Early on in massage I remember getting excited thinking about my next, big work move. Unfortunately, most of the time, I wouldn’t follow through. But over the years I’ve discovered that if I harness the pain that my current work situation is causing me, I can stay on track to accomplishing my goals.
Self-Help in the ‘80s
I spent my 20s devouring self-help books. At the time, the general advice was that pain and negative emotions were bad. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood that pain and unpleasant emotions were highly effective in helping me to change habits/behaviors and accomplish goals.
Better Husband Project
The power of unpleasant emotions to change things for the good hit me between the eyes when I consciously made a decision to be a better husband. For years, I had struggled with important relationship issues, like trying to be a better listener.
When I told my wife, Lisa, that I was committed to making changes and I was putting together a plan, I was terrified. Nothing really had changed before. Why did I think I could change now?
I was banking on a couple of things. For one, this time I was going to have multiple layers of accountability, including Lisa and a counselor. In the past, I was the only check point.
Two, I was going to write down (or record) everything associated with my desire to be a better husband—especially the painful and sad events that led me to wanting to make a change.
No Recall of Pain, No Gain
At first, I was doing okay. But then I started to slip. When I realized I was slipping, I found myself automatically going back to my notes describing the painful events. And, subsequently, I’d feel the sadness. Immediately, the sadness would strengthen my conviction to never ever create that situation again.
It quickly became apparent to me that if I wanted to stay on track to being a better husband, I needed to recall the painful events on a regular basis.
Celebrate the Small Victories
I also observed that there was a downside to reconnecting to the painful events. It shook my confidence. But as I worked the plan and saw myself make progress, even if it was something small, I would feel a huge sense of satisfaction. When this happened I made sure that I patted myself on the back. Once I did, my confidence returned.
Make a Work Change
Soon after I started the Better Husband Project, I took the powerful lesson of remembering painful events and used it in my massage life. At one point, Lisa and I each increased the size of our private practices to help fund another business we had started. And I took some clients just for the money. To be honest, I dreaded working on them.
For a while, I pulled out the therapeutic rapport and did my best, but because my values and personality were so different from theirs, the mental stress eventually became unbearable.
That’s when I put the pain (of having to work on them) on paper. I went back and connected with the pain frequently so that I would continuously have the emotional drive to change the situation. And it worked. Because I kept lighting the emotional pilot light, I pushed myself to find ways (more writing and teaching gigs) to replace those clients and I didn’t lose any money in the process.
4 Steps to Making a Work Life Improvement
Do you currently have a massage work situation that makes you unhappy? Are you thinking about making a change? Here’s my process for staying motivated:
Step #1: Write down or record the painful events associated with your current work situation.
Step #2: Create a plan.
What would be a better work situation? If you’re doing massage for someone else and you don’t like the work environment, do you want to cut back your hours? If so, you could start your own massage practice, look for another massage company to work for or get a part-time job.
Step #3: Regularly recall the painful events.
When you feel yourself losing your motivation to change, go back and reread your Painful Event notes. You’ll quickly reconnect to what’s at stake if you don’t follow through.
Step #4: Give yourself plenty of pats on the back for each positive step you take.
Work in Progress
I continue to make plenty of mistakes as a husband. I sometimes stall in the middle of a work-life improvement step. But when I do, I harness the unpleasant feelings around the situation I want to change and then I have the motivation to get back on track quickly.
Finally, don’t take failed attempts to change personally. It simply could have been that you lost your motivation.
Let’s get your motivation back!