Recently a guy came into the gym because he wanted some help losing weight. We will call him “Joe.” Joe was overweight. He was around 6 ft tall and weighed just north of 425 lbs and it was evident from the beginning that he was terrified to be in the gym talking to me.
Joe had never been in a gym and just the thought of walking into one made him want to vomit. He was so nervous that for the preceding two days he was shopping to find clothes that would fit and looked somewhat athletic so he we would “fit in” better. These new clothes were now soaked with nervous sweat as he anxiously sat down in my office.
I asked him to tell me his story…..
Joe was in his mid 30’s and wanted very much to have a family of his own. He had been unsuccessful in that endeavor in large part due to his weight. He had no kids or wife and hadn’t had a girlfriend in years. The closest people to him however, was his brother and sister-in-law and their 9 year old son.
Joe was enjoying being an uncle and it helped fill the void in his own life. So, when his nephew mentioned that he had never been to cedar point and wanted to go one day, Joe jumped at the chance to take him.
When the day finally arrived, Joe had everything packed up and he took his nephew to Cedar Point. His nephew’s biggest reason for wanting to go was to try out the roller coasters. So the first thing they did was find the biggest one and wait in line.
Now we all know how long those lines can be so they waited for well over an hour before they made it to the front of the line. So here was the big moment, Joe would get to share in the mutual joy of taking his nephew on this trip and riding with him on his first roller coaster.
Except one problem…..
The harness couldn’t fit Joe. He was too big to ride the ride and his nephew was too young to do it alone. He would later realize he couldn’t fit on any of the rides. They had to turn around and walk all the way past the line they had waited in for over an hour.
Embarrassed isn’t enough to describe the way Joe felt that day. As he told me the story it was complete devastation, failure and shame. I felt for him. I could hear the sadness in his voice and at that moment I wanted to do anything I could to help him.
Joe’s story is a common one. Sure, the circumstances change and details are different but what Joe went through and his next steps, are all too common. It begs the question: “Why don’t we change behavior even though we know we should?”
Luckily, the answer is pretty simple……..
We don’t change, because we perceive the pain of that change to be greater than the pain we are currently enduring.
We see the process of change to be worse than staying put.
That is until we experience what is called a “Threshold Moment…….”
A Threshold Moment is an experience that flips the script and immediately makes the pain of staying put, far greater than the pain of change. It is that moment and that pain that made Joe pick up the phone, call a gym, buy new clothes and through all his insecurities and fears, walk into the gym and talk to someone.
The momentum and motivation that someone experiences after a threshold moment is a very powerful force but it is finite. No one can rely purely on motivation to drive long-term behavior change. It will fizzle out over time and old-habits will creep back slowly.
If you have experienced one of these moments you know how potent they can be. You must however in that moment of incredible strength and resiliency create a plan for the long-term because once the motivation is gone, discipline must take its place.
Here is how you create that plan:
- Define and clarify goals
- Create actionable steps and a timeline to achieve the above goals
- Have someone that can provide strict accountability on a pre-determined timeline (How much by when)
- Have someone that can provide high-level perspective when we don’t reach our goals. (This is KEY!)
Once there is a solid plan in place all that needs to be done is to execute that plan. If this seems over simplified that’s because it is.
The process is a simple one and I know it works.
The hardest part about all of this is steps 3 and 4. Find someone who YOU will be held accountable to and who can provide perspective and you will be well on your way to making long-term behavior change.
I would love to hear any stories about your experience with a threshold moment and the change that followed and, as always, please email me back if I can help you in any way.