Now as I sit here typing this I'm two weeks away from running the Boston Marathon. It's a massive accomplishment and I'm proud, nervous (kind of scared actually) and feeling like it's a moment of pseudo graduation. Like getting a degree in Life Change. Not to say I'm returning to a life of McCain's frozen pie, whiskey and potato chips, but recognizing that any change I've created has stuck. The old habits are gone, this new life is routine.
On Sundays I lead a small running group that seems to cater for the most part to new runners. People that are in the contemplative stage of fitness. I enjoy it and find myself desperately wanting to help others catch the running bug knowing how it will positively impact their life. In my Saturday morning run clinic this morning hosted by a local running store there were about 15 runners left out of the 70 to 80 that started the program in January. On Sundays we are trilled if we get 5 runners, and only on a couple of occasions have we had more than 10. Most people come once or twice and despite swearing they will continue we never see them again.
I don't own that failure. It's not really a failure of mine, nor theirs. Sometimes things just don't stick. But I keep thinking about what makes things happen. What actually creates meaningful change in someones life? How in fact did I go from lazy to driven? From a junk food addict to a health food enthusiast? I have theories. I've pondered the change and tried to nail it down to an exact moment. I believe it all started with career restlessness which lead to health changes after health scares. But I'm not really sure. And how do I seed motivation in others if I can't discern my own tipping point?
Why did I follow through when in fact most people don't? Even in the face of life threatening disease, obesity and deep unhappiness most people fail to endure the work toward meaningful life changes.
This isn't some boast from up on high. I'm truly surprised I did it and keenly aware my life isn't perfect. Career goals have somewhat eluded me despite my persistence at health change. I often wonder in private moments of vulnerability how long it will be before I fade back into my old ways flopped on the sofa, eating Old Dutch chips, drinking beer, and completely unhappy.
But when I'm feeling excited, motivated and jazzed about where I've come I want to share it. And I'm often asked what is the secret. I've had people seek me out for advice and given it freely. Sometimes I can see fire in their eyes and figure they have a good chance, but often I can sense they are still contemplating change, not committed. I see "Change Gurus" offering their snake oil in motivational speeches, podcasts, books and pay as you go programs and sensed the falseness of their claims.
I want to offer something profound but I'm left with no secret at all to share. I don't know why I changed. I don't know why I stick to it. I only know that it gets easier as change becomes habit.
I'll leave you with one theory, it's the best I can do. If you are wanting to change something about your life you have to judge whether the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. Will creating inertia hurt less than staying still? If so you have a shot. If not then you've come the wrong Guru.