Updated: Feb 28
In this blog, I share a few stories of huge transformations I've witnessed.
I also share how you can increase your ability to create massive change in your life by understanding how to use pleasure and pain.
All change starts with a decision.
And all decisions are made to avoid pain and/or to gain pleasure in some way or another.
A lot of the decisions we make are to stay the same because change is often perceived to be painful. So most people avoid it.
The truth is that most of the time, it is more comfortable to stay the same.
Unless you are someone who is pained by the thought of staying the same for your life and living with regret. Then staying the same might be the more painful thing to do.
What happens when staying the same becomes more painful than the pain of changing?
What if we could use pain and pleasure consciously to create powerful change in our lives?
What would you want to change if you could create a massive change in your life?
I am sure there are many styles of transformation but two styles have stood out to me.
Massive immediate transformation
Subtle gradual transformation.
Transformation style 1: Massive immediate transformation
This is when someone makes a huge decision and says to themselves "I am done with this!".
Something triggers them to make such a solid decision that they begin a new way of life immediately, and they don't look back.
Whatever the change is, it's decided. They know their path now, and even if they don't know the path, they know they are going to figure it out.
It becomes a MUST!
I have seen and heard of quite a few people doing this when smoking cigarettes.
Something triggers them to make a solid decision, and they quit cold turkey.
1. One person I know dreamt that he had throat cancer. He had a very vivid dream of himself getting diagnosed by the doctor. He woke up and thanked God it was only a dream. He never smoked again from that day on (and still going strong, ten years now).
The pain of staying the same became stronger than the pain of changing.
2. Another person I know was showering and suddenly had a big realization that if they don't quit smoking now they may not be able to breathe in 10 years. He envisioned a movie in his mind of himself in a hospital bed struggling to breathe. He felt vividly what it would be like struggling to breathe in a hospital bed on his last days alive. He said, "It scared the shit out of me! and it's so clear to me now..why am I cutting my life short?".
He hasn't smoked since. The pain of staying the same became stronger than the pain of changing.
3. Another man 55yo, got to know a young 18yo who was struggling with a disease that stopped him from living a normal life. This 55yo man watched this 18yo kid struggle with his health.
This man thought to himself, "And here I am perfectly healthy, and I am destroying my health with smoking. What the hell am I doing?". He said to me that he felt it was disrespectful to the young man to choose to destroy his health when this kid was struggling.
He still hasn't smoked in 15 years.
Some strong decision-making triggers for weight loss I have heard of are:
1. "If I don't begin looking after my health, I might not get to walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding." This man hired a trainer and got himself on track.
He walked his daughter down the aisle 12 years later.
2. One woman I know survived a heart attack at 45yo. She was overweight and had never really exercised. She took her second chance and began living a healthy life. 5 years later, at 50yo, she is now at a healthy weight and is running 5km nearly every morning.
3. Another woman felt at the age of 47 that she hadn't truly lived her life. She said "I haven't truly lived, I have been afraid my whole life and I am now realizing that this life is not a dress rehearsal. Life is now!" She began learning boxing (something she'd always wanted to try), she started surfing lessons, and she booked in a trip to Nepal to climb Everest base camp (which she successfully completed).
She is now 55yo. She runs marathons, and loves traveling and going on hiking adventures with her new friends.
Transformation style 2: Subtle, gradual transformation
The other style of change I see is less dramatic at the start, but the changes are undoubtedly big.
It's when people decide to make subtle changes in their lifestyle that add up to creating dramatic transformations in the long term.
This could look like reading 5 pages per day in their field of work, listening to audiobooks on the way home from work every day, or going to the gym and lifting weights for 25 minutes two times per week.
One or two new ideas you get in that 5 pages each day will add up to 5-10 new principles and ideas each week. Over the next few years, you have thousands of new principles and ideas to implement.
Lifting weights for 25 minutes two times per week. In just three months, you'll see a huge difference. But in three years, massive transformations.
This way of changing is less daunting but still gets massive transformations.
Consistency is the key.
1. Take for example a friend of mine who was overweight by 50-60 lbs. He began a subtle change of eating about 200 calories less per day. He did this by swapping creamy sauces for tomato-based sauces, he traded his usual nighttime dessert for a protein shake (except on Sundays he would go out for a delicious dessert), and he began walking 20 minutes after work each day. These seemingly small changes that he stayed consistent with.
Two years later, he is now 50 pounds lighter and looks impressive!
2. A couple I know were not feeling very connected. They said, "We are not sure if we should be together." They were considering a divorce. They did two sessions with me individually to clear up a few issues going on, and then I said to them, "You have the decision to make. You can continue doing what you've been doing and see where it goes, or you can end it now and get a divorce, or you can decide that your relationship is worth saving and give the time, love, and attention it deserves each week."
They decided that their relationship was the most important thing. They said, "We want to save the relationship. It's the most important thing. We know we must take better care of our relationship because it is most important for our long-term fulfillment."
They began by taking one night out every week for the relationship. They hired a sitter to look after their 11 and 13-year-old for five hours. They went out for dinner and a walk with no children or phones. They said, "At first, it was awkward because we were not used to having this present time together with no distractions, but soon we began talking very openly like we did when we first met. We began sorting through a lot of our stuff and re-aligning our vision. After four weeks, it was like when we first met. We got our passion back, and we couldn't wait for our weekly date night."
It wasn't easy for them, and they were busy like everyone else. But they decided that their relationship was more important. They made it happen, and they are still happily married five years later.
We are all motivated towards pleasure and away from pain.
You can decide to make the things you want to change too painful to stay the same by taking time to think about all the worst-case scenarios of not changing.
What are the consequences of staying the same?
Who else are you affecting by staying the same? What will your life be like if you stay the same?
In 5 years? 10 years? 15 years? What could this lead to if you do not change?
Why will this be more painful than the pain of change?
How else can you make stuff staying the same more painful for yourself?
And you can make the result of the transformation incredibly compelling and pleasure-giving by creating a compelling vision.
When you make this transformation, what will be the incredible rewards?
What do you think about that? What else will this do to make your life better?
Will your change add to someone else's life too?
What will your life be like when you make the change? In 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?
What other good things will this change create in your life?
How else can you make this more compelling for yourself?
Once you have built up enough pain and enough pleasure, then determine what lifestyle changes you can make to support this change.
Find all the easy, low-hanging fruit first.
Make some immediate sustainable changes and celebrate yourself for doing so!
Commit to your new changes by committing to something big.
Track your progress and reflect every week to look at and celebrate even the smallest of progression you make.
Good luck & best wishes,