The Trail of Bread Crumbs
In the year 1519, the Spanish Conquistador, Hernan Cortes arrived in the New World with six hundred men. His mission was to head 200 miles into the hostile Aztec territory and over throw them to steal their gold. A large portion of his men made a plan to steal one of the ships and sail back to Cuba. He learned of this plot and decided to burn all of his ships in the night cutting off the only escape route. It took them 2 years of hardship and struggle to finally overthrow the Aztec empire.
So, you may not be planning on overthrowing an empire and stealing all of their valuables, but you probably have at one time or another set out to do something good for yourself and not been successful. This gets very frustrating and eventually leads to resigning to the status quo. “What is the point in continuing to try to lose weight when everything that I try never seems to work?” “I’ve tried to find a new job, but I just can’t seem to find one that I like.” “I know I should exercise more, but I just don’t have the time.” There maybe a lot of truth in these statements that I have generalized. After all, if losing weight were simple and easy, then we wouldn’t have an obesity problem. What if losing weight was simple and easy? You would probably be ready for the infomercial script to kick in.
It is simple in theory, and easy once you have done it. The missing piece to the puzzle is closing the back door. The back door is your escape route when you get stressed, uncomfortable, sad, triggered, depressed, frustrated, and fed up. If you leave yourself a trail of bread crumbs to find your way back to the lifestyle that you are trying to get away from, did you really think you weren’t going to deploy that safety net?
Imagine that your goal was to start a new career as a landscaper. Your current occupation was doing factory work 60 hours per week, working the night shift. You don’t like it because of the sleep schedule, but the money is good with all of the overtime. When you get out of work you try to mow some lawns, and do a landscaping project here and there when you have time. You still have to sleep and eat, but you just can’t seem to get enough business in the landscaping arena to afford to quit your factory job. What’s the problem? Why isn’t this working? Time, attention, and focus are all watered down. Why? The back door is not only wide open, they actually never really left. Sure, there are reasons why they didn’t quit their factory job that are quite viable. What if they burned their ships? What if there was no going back? Would there be difficulties? Would there be hardships? Absolutely, but there would also be a greater drive, focus and pressure to succeed.
I ask new practice members on day 1 to rate their level of commitment to getting healthy, and when someone states emphatically, they are a 10, I know we are off to a good start. When someone says they are a 6, they are likely to not get very far. Just stating a number can be just a wish. The real answer comes when we see what their actions look like 90 days down the road. That 10 can become a 7, and that 6 can become an 8, but usually looks more like a 4 or even a 0. We want everything to be easy and convenient right from the beginning. Realistically big changes require the exact opposite. Which would you rather experience, the pain of discipline or the pain of regret?
Cortez hatched a plan that had no contingencies. When you set out to reach a goal you may have to do some difficult things in order to be successful. You may have to change your entire friend group. You may have to throw away foods that you like, but aren’t good for you. You may have to go to bed an hour earlier, in order to get up an hour earlier every day just to get time to exercise. A question that you need to ask yourself is “do you really want, what you say you want?” If the answer is yes, “how far are you willing to go in order to get what you want?” If the answer is “whatever it takes,” then close the back door for good!