How to Keep Going After a Big Change

—video transcript—
I recently shared in my blogcast entitled “You Made It Out Keep Going” that it’s a very common human tendency to make a big change, take a large leap in life, stick the landing on the other side—and then shockingly end up back in very familiar loops, patterns reminiscent of the place from which you just escaped.

I wanted to talk today about why we do this. It’s very understandable. It is nothing to judge or beat yourself up about. I wanted to illuminate the reasons behind it so that you can be aware. And the next time you make a big change in life, you’re prepared and you’re ready to land and then keep going instead of staying put.

So, first of all, let’s understand that the human brain operates under a motivational triad. It wants to avoid pain, seek pleasure, and be efficient. So to make a big change, you had to override your core natural tendencies to not invite complication. The reason the brain wants to be efficient is because it actually takes more caloric energy to make big, hard decisions than it does to just do routine things over and over again. So by the time you make a big leap in life, you have exerted amazing amounts of mental energy that your brain would have loved for you to not have to do in the first place.

So it is completely understandable that once you got to the other side, you were tired. You were literally physiologically tired. I don’t know about most of you.I would imagine it’s true that when you’ve been through something big, you could literally feel it in your bod— because this is more than just the brain. It’s the entire nervous system. It’s your body telling the story of what you’ve just been through. So let’s be prepared for that.

If you are in a season right now of considering a big change, know that it is taxing. Cut yourself as many breaks as is reasonable so that you can keep mustering the strength to do what you need to do. And you need to use this amazing human super power that we have to plan ahead to decide in advance. So even before you make a big leap, be thinking about the reality that you’re going to land somewhere and the reason you made the leap was to make a change.

You don’t want a déjà vu all over again the things that you just escaped from. So planning is essential.

For me. I can think of a couple of large moments in my life history, where I did it; I broke free. I started anew, and, over just a little bit of time on the other side, I found myself doing some very similar things that I had previously. I didn’t hold true to my deepest dreams. I didn’t run ahead for the opportunities I had hoped for and envisioned because my body and my brain saw the familiar and sought to help me be efficient and avoid pain. I ended up back in some familiar loops.

I know that all things work to serve the ultimate purpose, so no regrets, but tons of lessons to be had from those moments. Tons of lessons for me to learn that anytime I make a change, I’m going to stick that landing. and then I’m going to need to catch my breath and move forward.

Another important thing to do is decide in advance how much you value the new opportunities you want to create for yourself. There were times where I personally did not move ahead because I let other voices in. It’s not the fault of the other voices. The responsibility is on me, but I received messages externally that overrode my intrinsic—my internal—motivation that had led me to make the big change in the first place. That was likely a very visceral response to maintain some familiarity and avoid that complication and that inefficiency of starting something new. That was just a lot of my internal stuff working to protect me.

But guess what? I have my self-executive—what I call my Chief of Everything, my COE—that can override that internal “let’s keep it simple setting” so that I can actually enlist every part of me to work on my behalf to go forward.

So I just didn’t want to leave that as a massive oversimplification: you made it out now, keep going. I wanted to raise your awareness and understanding of why the entire loop, the entire process, needs to be in your foresight as you make those big changes. It’s very natural to end up back in something familiar. Do not judge or beat yourself up, take full responsibility, wake up, look around, decide in advance how important what you’re going for truly is, and then disregard the external voices. Call upon that. Intrinsic motivation; actually rely on the “hallelujah, you did it energy!” that got you to the new place to propel you forward. You’ll be so glad you did.

So keep going now that you have the tools to do so!


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