Hey Coaches, How are you? I’m so glad you’re here and welcome to the next episode of She Coaches Coaches. Do you ever find yourself saying “I know what to do, I’m just not doing it”. Well, that’s what we’re talking about today.
And before we go any further, don’t for one minute think that I don’t have the exact same challenge that you do. In fact, when it was time for me to write and record this episode I heard myself saying the same thing.
Yup, I heard this thought. “I know what I need to do….I’m just not doing it.”
Now before you hit the exit button I want to give you the heads up.
This is NOT going to be an episode where I tell you just to get some more discipline, work harder or set better goals.
I’m not going to tell you, you need more productivity tools or to plan your work better.
Nope, that’s not today’s episode and I can guarantee that you will never hear an episode like that from me.
Probably because they often don’t really work. The traditional approach of planning your work, getting more rigid and being harsher with yourself isn’t going to help you in the long run.
If being harsher and acting more like a dictator was going to work…it already would have. You’ve tried it haven’t you? I have and I know it works for a week or two and then I’m back to square one.
Face it, how many times have you said one of these things to yourself when faced with a project, task or a deadline.
“Oh come get your act together”
“Get it done already”
“I just need to get more disciplined that’s all”
“Put your mind to it” or
“What I need is a better productivity tool or I need a better goal”
What we are going to talk about today is how to work with your brain’s design instead of fighting it.
There are three characteristics of your brain that you need to know:
- Your brain wants comfort
- Your brain wants pleasure
- Your brain wants easy
Sounds good right? Mmmm comfort, pleasure, easy.
Ok let’s dive into each of these three characteristics a little more:
- Your brain wants comfort
We want to be comfortable, safe and secure. We don’t want to take risks. We inherently avoid discomfort. This is a result of evolution. Safety and security keep us alive and helps us to survive and thrive.
It only makes sense, think about the caveman who was a risk-taker, they were more likely to be eaten by a saber-tooth tiger than the cavewoman who stayed safe and comfortable in the cave. This type of selection means that most of us are descendants of the safety and comfort-seekers, not the risk-takers -their genetic pool is much smaller, and in some cases wiped out.
- Your brain wants pleasure
We want to feel good. Of course, without any other input we will naturally choose the yummy treat over the thing that tastes like sawdust.
We love that endorphin hit – the feel-good hormone. We get that endorphin rush when we buy something we want, or when we get an email or a text, the ding of notice gives us a little rush.
We will almost always choose to feel good now, instead of choosing to delay gratification.
For example, we know we should save for retirement. We are bombarded with ads for retirement planning, ways of saving and ideas of how good life will be when we retire. They want us to choose to delay gratification. But our brain prioritizes pleasure. So, notice how often you choose to buy that beautiful pair of shoes or go on vacation instead of saving for retirement. We opt for immediate pleasure over the delayed pleasure all the time. It’s the way we’re wired.
Notice too that sometimes we get pleasure from a thrill like riding a roller coaster. Here’s where your brain has chosen pleasure over safety and comfort. Interesting isn’t it? Some like roller coasters and some (like me) don’t.
- Your brain wants easy
Yup, your brain wants to push that easy button as often as possible. And when I say easy button, what I mean is that your brain wants to conserve energy. It’s a survival approach, your brain uses between 20 and 25% of your body’s energy. That means 20-25% of the food you eat goes into your brain’s function.
Your brain wants to be efficient because survival is most likely when you stay safe and use the smallest amount of energy. Your brain is an expert when it comes to putting things on automatic – creating habits.
In Episode 10, I spoke about the levels of learning. That episode shows you how your brain moves to put things on auto-pilot.
Your brain learns it and creates a habit so you don’t even have to think about those steps. Your brain is always angling to put as much as possible into an unconscious pattern or habit.
Think about what you do when you get up every morning. If you’re like me, you probably pee, have a drink of water, put on your robe and then brush your teeth before pouring a cup of coffee – I bet you do this without even having to think about it right? That an example of your brain conserving energy and putting a series of actions on auto-pilot, essentially creating a habit.
Have you ever tried to change the order of what you do? Try pouring your coffee first before brushing your teeth. Or try brushing your teeth by holding the toothbrush in the other hand. It’s not so easy, but when you let your work according to its design, you will be ready for your day without even a thought.
So that’s the 3 tendencies.
- Your brain wants comfort and avoids discomfort
- Your brain wants pleasure
- Your brain wants easy to conserve energy
Ok so what do these 3 things have to do with “I know what to do, I’m just not doing it”.
Your brain is always in play and it will always win in the end.
So if the thing we want to do feels risky – tendency #1 – avoid discomfort kicks in.
If this thing feels like hard work and no fun….tendency #2 – seek pleasure says…why would I want to do something that’s no fun?
If this thing is new and it’s going to take a lot of energy to figure it out, of course tendency #3 – keep it easy and conserve energy is going to kick in.
Of course,, we’ve all forced ourselves to do things we don’t want to do, things that are hard, potentially embarrassing and peppered with risk.
We can use willpower to make ourselves to do just about anything, for awhile…then watch what happens. All of a sudden “not today, it’s too much trouble” or “I don’t’ have time to do this” or “I’m tired” and before you know it you’re back where you started.
An example is someone who is taking up exercise. They decide they are going to get fit. So they join a gym.
It’s risky to do this new thing – and it’s certainly not comfortable being the new person especially if you don’t know the equipment or how to use it.
Here’s how these 3 tendencies might sabotage your good intentions:
Maybe you don’t want to feel like the “new kid” in the gym. You don’t know anyone there anyway and you don’t know where everything is or even how to use the equipment. After the first day, your muscles are probably stiff. It’s so uncomfortable, so here comes tendency #1 avoid discomfort to remind you that maybe you should wait until you’re not so sore or perhaps you’re not cut out for this after all.
After the first couple of days, the glow of your desire starts to wear off and you realize it’s no fun, there’s little pleasure in starting exercising. Everything is hard, you look awkward and you sure don’t look fit. Isn’t it easier to sit on the couch and watch that cool Netflix series…that’s way more fun and tendency #2, the seek pleasure now tendency, persuades you to wait until tomorrow.
And finally, learning how to exercise is not easy. It takes energy to learn the exercises, understand what you should be doing and how. So much thinking Here’s where tendency #3 shows up. Isn’t there something easier you could be doing, (something that uses less brainpower)? You might find yourself saying “this can’t be right, I have to think about everything! What to wear, what to do, where to go” and it’s so easy for the other people. It’s just too hard. And eventually even getting dressed and out the door takes more energy than you’re willing to give it. Besides, it’s been a tough week and I’m tired. I’ll start again next week.
But we all know people who start at the gym and continue until it becomes a habit and “just who you are”.
I want you to know these tendencies are neutral. They can work for you or against you. How can you use these brain tendencies in our favor?
The first step is awareness, understand how they work.
Next, when you know they are always in play ask yourself.
Hmmm, how can I make this more comfortable?
How can I make this more fun or pleasurable?
And how can I make it easier?
Let’s go back to the person who is new to fitness.
How can they make it more comfortable?
Try preparing in advance. Go for a tour of the gym before you sign up. Go with a friend or go to a gym where you already know some of the people. Decide what you will do before you get there. If you’re going to do an exercise class make sure it’s the right level for you and not too difficult. Hire a trainer for the first few sessions so they can help you get comfortable.
How can you make it more fun or pleasurable?
Pair the new thing that appears to be not as fun with something fun.
For example, you could decide that you’ll only be able to watch the next episode of your favorite show WHEN you are on the treadmill.
This way you are rewarding yourself when you do the new habit, go to the gym.
How can I make it easier?
You can use a technique called habit-stacking. This comes from the book by James Clear – Atomic Habits. It’s based on the premise that there are some tasks you’re already efficient at. When you’re efficient, your brain has built very efficient pathways. So, if you pair a new habit, like going to the gym with another habit that you already have in place, it’s easier to start and create the new habit.
An example, after I get home from work I immediately change into my workout gear.
In this example of someone who is new to exercise, it won’t take long for the exercise and gym itself to be comfortable. You will meet people, the equipment will be familiar. You will find pleasure in movement, you will feel stronger, look better and get the endorphin rush of a workout. And it will be the easy button, of course I work out, that’s just who I am and then you’ll find it’s harder to not exercise than exercise.
Use these three tendencies to make your journey to being a coach with a full practice easier. I would encourage you to think of ways to make this new journey of becoming a coach easier, more fun and more comfortable.
Now, If you’re listening to this episode and you’re a new coach, I can help you. If you’re new and you’re not quite sure where to start or exactly what to do next. You might find you’re feeling overwhelmed, stuck or confused about how to start attracting your first (or your next) clients. If you’re thinking of hiring a coach to make faster, easier progress, that’s also more fun! We should chat. Let’s see if it’s time for us to work together.
There’s a link in the episode notes about how to schedule a consult. I’d love to hear from you.
Oh, and one more thing before you leave! I want to tell you about a gift I offer to all my listeners. It’s my free resource library, and it’s filled with content I created to help you grow and become a coach. I call it The Coaches Online Business Academy and here’s how it works.
Click the link and sign up for your free account and you get immediate access to all my free resources.
All you have to do, is go to the episode description or the show notes and click on the link to sign up today. And that’s it.
I’m happy to share this with you. It’s one of the ways I support my community and support the growth of coaching. I believe we need more coaches and that everyone will benefit by having a coach.
So that’s it for today friends. Come listen again next week, I can’t wait to chat with you then.
Featured on The Show: