The real truth is that you don’t stick to things because you don’t want them badly enough! That’s pretty much it.
If I offered you a million dollars if you would clean your kitchen once a week for a year, would you do it? In a heartbeat. So the real problem is your personal desire.
So let’s do a little exercise to help get you there. Get out a notebook and pick one thing to work on. I’ll pick sticking to a diet because so many of us struggle with that. On one page, write all the pain your current behavior is bringing to your life. “I feel out of control.” “I don’t feel attractive to my husband.” “I’m scared I’ll die younger.” “I don’t have the energy to play with my kids.” “I’m embarrassed by my weight.” Make a long list.
On another page, write all the things you’ll get if you change your behavior. “I’ll feel like myself again.” “I’ll look stunning!” “I’ll be proud of myself again.” “My family and friends will compliment me.”
You can do this for each thing you’re trying to change, but it’s best to begin with one. Read those lists daily. Add to them. And then work on changing that behavior. After I listed all the pain my extra weight was causing me, I was shocked. And the diet finally began sincerely—you couldn’t force me to eat poorly because every day I read the pain and I read the benefits and the choice was clear.
You already know how to accomplish your goal, most of the time. For those that you don’t, sit down with someone who does and ask, “How do you do it?” Pick her brain and then begin step-by-step to copy her (or him)! She’ll be flattered and you’ll be educated.
Do not sabotage yourself. Too often we make huge lists and then give out by the third week in January.
Think of it this way. If you permanently changed one behavior every year, how many would you have conquered by now? Dozens!
By now, you’d be reading your scriptures daily as a habit, praying daily, tidying your house daily, exercising every week, and on and on. Just by focusing intensive effort on one behavior at a time and making it a habit you can transform your life.
Just think: If you keep this up, you’ll be perfect in no time! Well, in an eternity at least . . .
Dear Auntie M,
My younger brother and his new wife moved into our basement apartment a month ago right after they got married. Before they moved in we agreed that they would stay for one semester, or four months. Since they moved in, they've decided to get a puppy (without asking us), they leave their lights on all day while they're not home, and they have put so much stuff in my garage that I can't even park in my own garage! Should I keep my mouth shut and just endure it for the next few months or should I say something? I don't want to cause a strain on our relationship.
Pleasant Grove, Utah
Dear Sister Landlord: Feel free to keep your mouth shut. But if you do, be sure and get a doormat and have your face printed on it. You can place this at their door so everyone is clear on the relationship.
Face it! They have already caused a strain in your relationship. And you are causing more strain by not speaking up and clearing up the expectations.
I must admit that it drives me absolutely crazy when people tiptoe around saying, “Gee, I don’t want to hurt their feelings!” when the other party has no problem hurting yours.
If you want to be a mature adult about this and model good behavior, you need to speak up. Make an appointment for you and your spouse and the young couple to sit down together. Say that it is time to set some appropriate rules since some things were left unclear. Tell them the puppy must go while they’re living there (if that’s what you’re wanting). Tell them they have two weeks to remove the items from the garage (or specify exactly what part they can have). And then indicate that their percentage of the electric bill is now increased because their usage is high.
Be firm. Repeat. Be firm. Be clear. Don’t be nasty. Just act very matter-of-fact. If they balk or complain, sit back and say, “Well, I’m sorry this isn’t going to work out. You will need to find a new place to live if that is the case.”
If they get nasty, don’t take the bait. You keep your voice low. Repeat and say, “These things must be resolved.”
Be sure to set clear deadlines and indicate what will happen if there is no follow through. (“If the garage is not cleared out, we’ll move the items that are left into your rooms.”) And I always think it’s a good idea to write it all down (including the dates) and leave it with them so there’s no “forgetting.”
Then you won’t need that new doormat.