Have You Caught the Fix-It-All-Now Flu?

Recently a woman emailed me because she wanted to make the jump from a job she hated to self-employment in a field she loved, but she was scared. She wasn’t sure how to go about it, so she started with reading books to try and fix her fears.

Rather than helping her, they were making her fears worse. She bought books about money and abundance, books about being effective and goal-setting. But when she didn’t successfully make all the suggested changes right away, she’d feel even crappier than when she started.

Sound familiar? How many self helpy-type books have you bought that you haven’t followed through with, and just ended up feeling ashamed on top of everything else? It’s enough to make you feel sick! And, in fact, you are sick.

The Fix-It All Now Flu

You’ve caught the Fix-It All Now Flu. Symptoms include:

  • Acute disappointment when you don’t make all the recommended changes immediately
  • Feeling like you’re broken or wrong and someone else has the answers to solve your problems
  • A niggling feeling that the author’s suggestions aren’t quite right for you, but you ignore those feelings, because it worked for someone else
  • A small voice in your head that sounds like Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory saying, “I want it now!”

It happens like this: You embark on the new program. You start out strong, and vow to really make the changes this time, not like all those other times. But after a few days, you aren’t sticking with the new plan. You slip and forget, or you can’t quite fit it in your schedule, or you promise yourself tomorrow will be better. But it isn’t.

Pretty soon you succumb to the Fix-It All Now Flu and give up, deciding that you just aren’t fixable, and it’s too hard to change. Emotionally, you go to bed and wait until you have the energy to try something else. And the cycle starts again.

The real bummer? Not only are you disappointed that you couldn’t change like the book said you could, you still have that problem that started you down this path in the first place.

What’s Gone Wrong

Well, making changes in your life, real changes that stick, is like putting together a puzzle. Years ago as a teacher’s aide I would help young students put together puzzles.

We’d dump all the pieces in a pile on the table. Some kids would just start grabbing pieces, trying to fit them together, sometimes forcing together pieces that didn’t fit. Guess what? It didn’t work, and they became frustrated quickly, and left to find something more fun to do.

But if we started by sorting a few things out first, like the edges and similar colors or parts of the picture, we could start piecing certain areas together. After that, the rest of it would come together, without any forcing, to reveal the picture we were working towards.

There are similar steps to make changes in your life. First you need to have an idea of what your ideal life looks like. This is like the lid of the puzzle box – it’s a sample to guide you forward in putting the pieces together. Now remember, when you’re picturing this ideal life, you can take ideas from books, or people you admire, or wherever you find inspiration, but keep in mind, make this YOUR life, not someone else’s. Check in with your heart and see if it’s right for YOU.

The next step is to look at the pile of pieces that is your life right now. Even if it seems like nothing more than a big ol’ sloppy mess, find the pieces that you’re grateful for, the pieces you’re proud of, the pieces you’re okay with. Give yourself some recognition, have some gratitude for the good stuff.

Thinking Small Is The Way To Go

Now, go back to that vision of your ideal life. Bring back that really clear picture, where you can almost smell and taste it, and start with the most obvious parts first. What small change can you make right now that moves you the tiniest step forward? Embrace that change, and if it’s seems too big or too hard, you need to think even smaller. No forcing!

And keep taking small steps forward, refreshing your memory on the big picture when you need inspiration.

Practice

1. Choose an area of your life where you’d like to make a change. (For example, weight loss)

2. Assess what’s going well and what could be better for you right now in that area of your life. (I eat three well-balanced meals, but when I get really stressed I tend to snack on unhealthy, high calorie snacks to treat myself.)

3. Imagine how things will be after you’ve made the change, when it’s no longer a problem for you. What would you see, hear, smell, taste, really feel it deeply. (If I was at a healthy weight I would be able to play more easily with my kids; I could try some different activities; I would feel light and free.)

4. As you’re imagining all of that, what’s one small thing you can do to move you forward? Be curious and go with whatever pops into your mind. (Make a list of non-food “treats” that will help me take care of myself and relax.)

5. Practice that change every day until it becomes a habit. (In case it’s been a while since you played in band, practice means spending some time with it everyday, being willing to not get it perfect from the start, and have fun!)

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