The Piggy Bank
Updated: May 31, 2021
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself”
- Leo Tolstoy
This post is extremely important, not because I’m writing it, but because it’s an area of life that everyone struggles with, from the moment that they can make conscious decisions to the day that they no longer can.
As you read, do yourself this favor: ask how this content pertains to you, how you can make small changes to effect lasting change, and how you have already overcome your own limits to be the person that you are in the present. This post is written to help you see how special you truly are, and how you can maximize your blessings to be an even greater version of yourself.
Consider for a moment, a time in your life where you haven’t performed your best. Whether it be a week that just wouldn’t end (for me, this was last week), a poor performance that left you behind expectations, or even just a day where you can’t escape your own cloud of self-doubt. Whether we realize it or not, everybody struggles through these moments in life (even Beyonce), some are just better at hiding it than others (Beyonce, probably).
So what do we do when we’re facing these challenges? How can we overcome self-limiting beliefs and continue to march forward? The ‘solution’ isn’t necessarily clear-cut, and it should be different for each person; but generally, our struggles are born out of a resistance to change. By nature, we want to remain in a place of comfort, and it just so happens that this comfort zone isn’t necessarily a breeding ground for our maximum capabilities.
In order to effect lasting change in our lives, whether it be transforming eating habits, moving more, or getting in touch with our intellectual side, we must move from a state of unconscious incompetence (not realizing that we’re doing things in a manner that is out of sync with our values and capabilities), to a state of unconscious competence (the state of unknowingly living in rhythm with our values and capabilities).
We can think about these two stages of being in the context of a diet. When we’re just beginning to implement new eating habits, we micromanage every aspect of our daily lives. We plan, cook, weigh, eat, and track everything, ensuring that it fits within our new dietary plans. Yet, it’s not until these habits become unconscious to the point that we decide to choose certain foods, prepare them in a specific way, and truly enjoy healthier choices, because our taste buds have become accustomed to eating in this manner. The idea of being unconsciously competent goes hand-in-hand with the mindset of our eating choices as being a lifestyle, as opposed to a diet.
For most, the journey to creating habits that fuel our growth isn’t as simple as it looks when we write them down on paper. After all, science proves that humans resist anything that throws us out of a state of equilibrium. Think back to science class with me: overtime the body identifies what is ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ on a day-to-day basis. These routines that we create become our own sense of homeostasis. When we make moves to alter those normal rhythms, our homeostasis becomes disrupted and our brains try to lead us helplessly back to our previous behaviors. In order to combat the brain waves that are telling us to go back to the way we were, we must take control of our neocortex (the decision-making region of the brain). We must make conscious decisions over-time that ultimately begin to shift what our unconscious selves would identify as normal; creating a new equilibrium.
As you go about your daily life this week, notice the conscious and unconscious decisions that you make. Are these decisions in rhythm with you inner-most desires? For many of us, our decisions are made out of the desire for comfort. We want to look and feel secure 24/7, 365. The problem is, the things that give us the most comfort are usually the same things that keep us stagnant in life.
Plain and simple: if you desire growth, you must interact outside of your comfort zone.
It wouldn’t necessarily be accurate to say that all things outside of our comfort zone promote growth, however. If your true desire is to be a more emotionally intelligent and approachable person, you probably won’t be best serving yourself by focusing on your own diet and effort inside the gym. Rather, you will need to target the specific actions that are requisites to achieving growth in the desired area, as well as the behaviors that you will have to consciously implement to perform those actions.
Once you have identified an area of your life that you desire to grow in, as well as the actions and behaviors that you will need to become accustomed to, you will need to focus on achieving two successes.
First, the success of planning: understand what you will need to do to be successful. If you’re goal is to change your eating habits for the better, you probably wouldn’t overlook the practice of planning your meals and scheduling time to grocery shop and cook, right? We’ve all heard the saying that failing to plan is planning to fail (thanks Ben Franklin). These are some of the truest words ever spoken, and yet far too many people fail to create a sustainable plan for lifestyle change.
The second success sounds simple, but in actuality, it can really suck sometimes. You must achieve success upon success in the ability to consciously make decisions that serve your long-term desires, and not the short-term pursuit of comfort. If you look at your daily decisions, you may find that you unconciously take actions that don't serve your goals. It takes a strong-mind (something that we all have, believe it or not) to check yourself and make the moves necessary to impact change. I've said this before, but it's relevant here: everyday we deposit pennies, and one day we may look back and see that those pennies have built up to create extraordinary fortune in our lives. The conscious decisions that we make serves as our pennies. Deposit, and deposit again, and see the change that it will make down the road.
Let's be real, these decisions take sacrifice, they may not always be the most appealing action to take, and there isn’t always going to be instant gratification. But rest assured, if you have truly looked within yourself to identify what you want to be, why you want to be that person, and how you aim to achieve that goal, the conscious decisions that you make on a daily basis will be the only factor that you have to worry about.
Hold yourself accountable and be better, if not for yourself, then for those that you love. There are more people than we know that depend on us to be a person of virtue, and if we fail to live in the manner that allows us to reach our true potential, we never know what we may be leaving on the table.