I have been guilty of it too many times to count. When I am working on a tough, deeply personal goal that involves changing something about myself, I tend to get wrapped up in my own challenges. After all, it is my struggle. Nobody else can experience the frustrations or victories I feel in my pursuit of this goal, yet I know that everyone will feel the benefits of my success. Whether I am working on creating a successful business, earning a promotion or breaking a bad habit, I am motivated by the thought of creating a better life for the people I love. Chances are, you too get stuck in this train of thought too. Unfortunately, this focus on our own quest to achieve a goal often proves to be the one thing that prevents us from achieving it, and that’s because like everything else in life, personal growth cannot happen in a vacuum.
As we all know, personal growth involves getting outside of our comfort zone. We have to get out on the skinny branches in order to achieve something new and we can sometimes become blind to other people when we are busy charting a new course. Our focus on getting out of our own comfort zone makes us forget the flip side of this – that our comfort zone has become a part of the comfort zones of other people and we probably forgot to ask them to step out of their comfort zone with us. For example, when my daughters were young I started to lose weight. As a person who has struggled with weight most of my life this was a huge accomplishment for me and I was feeling fabulous. Then my youngest told me that I didn’t feel like mommy anymore and I started to believe that my husband wouldn’t like the thinner me either. I had lost a number of bonding activities with my girlfriends as I had been spending more time at the gym than I had with them and it suddenly felt like achieving this goal wasn’t worth everything I felt myself to be losing. So I gained back the weight, and some extra, and now I still have the goal of getting to a healthier weight and the guilt of a previous failure along with it. Additionally, I know that my loved ones would have loved the new me anyway.
Over the years of coaching I have seen many other people quit on their goals for the same reason I did. Fear that the achievement of it would come at too high of a cost, a fear that can only infect our thinking when we have forgotten to invite others into our change process. We need to recognize that our personal decision to change will make other people have to change too. They have to change their reactions to our behaviors, their estimation of us and they have to redefine themselves in relation to us.
Understanding this before and during our growth process makes the achievement of our goals exponentially easier. By thinking about the impact we have on others and asking them to join us in our quest to be a better person we simultaneously accomplish two things. We have shown the respect to those in our lives by inviting them in and we have created a support system for us as we start to climb our own Mt. Everest.
Whatever your mountain is think of everyone who you want at the summit with you. What considerations do you need to give them as you start your change process and how can you enlist them in the process? What concessions do you have to make for others to be a part of your team? Remember that the involvement of those that love you will be the one thing that makes achieving your goal possible.