Matt, a 48-year-old busy executive, clutched his chest as the pain hit. Fear shot up through his entire body as he realized he was having a heart attack.
He thought about dying, about missing his kids’ graduations, their weddings, their futures.
After a moment, the pain subsided. But the fear did not. It was a false alarm. He was not having a heart attack, but considering his lack of exercise, he was well on his way. Matt decided he must make changes in his life to take care of his health.
He set up SMART goals (exercise 4 out of 5 days) and a tracking method—noting the days he exercised.
Three months in, he noticed he didn’t come close to keeping his commitments to himself. But why?
Commitment to morning exercise is worthless if you get hypnotized by emails on your phone and never make it to the gym. Commitment to this goal is not the issue. The competing commitment to another goal is the problem.
Matt was asked what he was afraid would happen if he changed his behavior: “I am afraid that if I don’t work seventy hours a week, everything will blow up. I’ll lose my job, and I’ll be destitute.”
What became clear is that Matt wanted job security more than he wanted physical and mental health.
If you have a competing belief, NO amount of will power is going to get you to the gym.
How do you remove the barrier of a competing belief? Try this exercise.
Step 1: Identify your competing belief
1. State your commitment. I am committed to exercising four times a week.
2. What are you doing or not doing that’s keeping you from your commitment?
Saying yes to any and all work requests so I have no time to exercise.
3. What are you afraid would happen if you changed this behavior? I am afraid that if I don’t work seventy hours a week, I will fail and become destitute.
4. Therefore, what do you want more than being physically and mentally healthy? I’d rather have job security more than feel healthy and at peace
5. Challenge the competing belief from #3. If you don’t work seventy hours will you REALLY fail and end up destitute?
Your logical mind knows you aren’t going to be broke if you work out for 30 minutes. But you believe it anyway.
Step 2: Re-program a competing belief
Challenge the belief by running tests to check its validity.
I suggested Matt take a small step by showering and eating a healthy breakfast twice a week before he turned on his phone.
In the beginning, he could only wait until after his shower to pick up his phone, but Matt kept stretching his comfort zone.
After a few weeks, he began to make it to the gym before checking his phone.
By testing his competing beliefs validity, he found that he could have health and maintain his job!
Matt has lost 35 pounds and reports feeling as good as when he ran a marathon 15 years ago. Even better, he works 50 hour weeks and no longer experiences the chest pains and stress that kept him from being present to his family and kids—the thing Matt wanted most of all.
Here’s to your emotionally, spiritually and financially prosperous life!