When we bought our last house nearly twenty years ago, we knew exactly what didn’t work, what we didn’t like and what we intended to change – just as soon as we moved in. Take the plaid wallpaper in my office, for example. I was so confident it was going to be immediately replaced that I tore a strip off of it. I wish I hadn’t done that.
I’m embarrassed to say the wallpaper hung around until we were getting the house ready for sale just a few months ago. And, there are other examples.
As we have been in our current house just over a month, I am intentionally taking advantage of the heightened awareness and motivation that’s alive in the new space. Though the house has been totally upgraded, there is still a lengthy list of things to buy and do to make our home look and work the way we want it to.
While I’m not so crazy about shopping, I must admit I get a foolish amount of joy from crossing things off my list. The sense of accomplishment of scoring just the right Rubbermaid product for the job is tough to beat. A neatly organized drawer gives a gratifying sense of completion. The new drapery looks great with the old furniture. You get the picture.
Cognitive dissonance refers to the anxiety associated with simultaneously holding incompatible or contradictory ideas or beliefs. In other words, it’s the discomfort you feel with the way things currently are versus the way you intend or expect them to be.
Sometimes, as in the case of my wallpapered office, we just get used to the way things are, and the motivation to change, or the dissonance, disappears. From a minor annoyance in our environment to something terribly wrong in our life – we can get used to it.
What have you gotten used to? Being out of shape or being a certain weight? How about a pain that’s been around for far too long? Maybe you’ve gotten used to making excuses about some of the choices you make. Has putting yourself down become second nature?
What would it take to look at your thinking, your self and your health with fresh eyes?
I know that it’s easy to be overwhelmed with ‘the list.’ It seems like there is too much to learn or do, too much weight to lose, too much to think about, and too many competing interests and obligations.
Are you forgetting the sense of joy from all the small accomplishments that will get you where you want to go? Or, maybe you’ve never learned to notice and celebrate them. From my coaching experience I know that’s true.
If I’ve learned anything about accomplishment it’s that it’s all about the small stuff. Putting the books on the finished shelf matters. Installing a hook on the back of the bedroom door matters. Ten minutes of physical activity matters. Every dietary change you make, even if it doesn’t show on the outside, is worth something to your body on the inside.
The way you interpret a sideways glance or how you respond to stress matters. The way you think about your body and the way you carry it matters, in terms of how you look and how you feel. And, all of this makes a difference in the big picture.
Hold the vision of what you want in the future and work on the small stuff in the present.
Our move-in ‘to do’ list is shrinking, but new things are being added. Nothing is static. Like a home, we are works in progress that are never complete, so we should never get complacent. At the same time, we should appreciate what does work, what is beautiful and celebrate every small step forward.
Our perfect new hardwood already has a few nicks. It was never perfect. And that’s perfect, like you and me – perfectly imperfect. Let’s celebrate that!