Listen to my confession. It was the turning point in my life and I hope it will somehow help you to leap into a new life for yourself and your loved ones. If you prefer, read my confession below.
Sincerely, Elle Raunston
It is such a relief to admit that to you. I was hiding behind too many jobs, too many things that didn't need to be done. I didn't want to face up to the fact that you were going to find out the truth.
I stared at myself in the mirror. It was like looking at a stranger.~ "Who are you?"
~ "What have you become?"
~ "When did this happen?"
~ "And why didn't you notice?"
~ "They" say truth hurts, and you know what?
~ "They" were right....
The painful fact of the matter was, I was not being true to myself, I was afraid to be me. Of course there were rare exceptions, usually when I achieved something momentous. But those times were few and far between.
I was reminded of the song "Changes" by David Bowie, in it he says:
"I turned myself to face me, and I never caught a glimpse".Well he was right, I had become a shadow ....
It hadn’t always been this way. I knew how to set goals, and more importantly achieve them. But I had a short memory, or so it seemed. Because I was back on the same circular road I had travelled many times. Talk about Groundhog day! I’m assuming you’ve seen the classic Bill Murray film, well that was my life. Except, I didn’t wake up at the same time, in the same place, listening to the same song, doomed to repeat the same day, but it was close.
At that point I could have cried. I knew that I would get to the end of another year in the same situation. The only difference being the number of candles on my birthday cake.
I can't say there was a single defining moment when the penny finally dropped, when I finally got it. I just knew that something had to change, and that something had to be massive.
The thought of change, and massive change at that would have been enough to send me back into hiding in the past.
But not this time.
This time I knew I didn't have all the answers, in fact I had very few. What I did have was lots of questions.
~ "Why did I fail so many times? Was it because I hadn't worked out what I wanted to be "when I grew up?" "
~ "Were my goals too outlandish, too obscure? Or were they too easy?"
~ "Why did I put in the effort for so long only to slide back into the old ways of doing things?"
~ "Did I fail because I didn't have enough reasons to "work on me?"
~ "Was I a self-help junkie who didn’t really want to be helped?"
~ "I said I wanted to be rich and famous, yet like the shy, awkward teenager at the party, I was slouched in a corner, hoping no-one would see me!"
~ "Did I fail because of my working class background? I didn’t "deserve" to be rich and famous. Sometimes I felt, "it’s not fair!".
~ My parents had gone without so much throughout their lives that to have more than my fair share wasn't how I had been brought up."
~ "Was I happy where I was, or not unhappy enough to change any of it?"
There were many reasons, and every single one of them I could justify if I tried hard enough.
When I started to look at the many "self-help" programs I had started but hadn’t finished over the years, I discovered patterns. As you know, patterns form habits. Habits of course are those things we do without thinking. These habits have programmed us to expect that if we do things in a certain way; we’ll get a certain result.
I thought I was moving forwards, but I was a self-help junkie. I would buy the books and the programs, and devour them quickly. What I did not do, was follow the advice. I would tell myself I would go back and complete the exercises, once I had all the information. "It would make more sense" I would tell myself. But like a child I would be off to find the next bestselling self-help book on the market. My wheels were spinning but I was going nowhere.
And then it dawned on me. I was happy where I was.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t happy as in, "I had a smile on my face and everything was right in my world." I was just not unhappy enough to do anything about changing. I had enough, or so I thought. My health was OK, I did enough exercise to keep my body in shape. I wasn’t horrendously in debt, I could manage my situation and my life, if everything ran smoothly. But when it didn’t go quite as planned, my stomach would churn and panic would set in. "Could I cope?" "What would happen if I didn’t?" "What options did I have?"
I remember coming home from work one night. Opening the mail and discovering to my horror a utility bill that was 10 times what it normally was. My mind instantly began to work overtime.
~ "How was I going to pay it?"
~ "What had caused it, was it a simple case of a wrong meter reading? Or"
~ "Could something be draining the power?" ~ "If the meter reading was wrong, would I still have to pay the bill?"
~ "There was no way I was going into debt for their error. No way. I’d be in credit for years."
I yelled to the kids. "We’ve got a problem, could you do me a favour and turn everything off. And I mean everything. Lights, computers, televisions. I need to see what’s causing the power surge"
As the kids scurried around the house I yanked open a kitchen drawer.
~ "Where was the (insert expletive) flash light?"
~ "Why did it always happen in winter?"
Wrenching open the door, I raced back into the dark.
~ "What if the meter had been read correctly?"
~ "Would the offices be open?"
~ "Should I drive over to see?"
~ "If I phoned would anyone be there?"
Whatever the answers were, I knew I wouldn’t get much sleep that night. The wind tore at the bill, I jammed it into my pocket, and tried to open the meter box. Stiff with un-use I scraped my knuckles down the edge of the wall, tears streaming down my face I yelled to no-one in particular. "Why do these things always happen to me?"
Why would I move mountains to deal with things that annoyed me, or made me angry. Yet allow other things, crucial, life changing things to drift by in a haze of false starts and couldn’t be bothered?
Which rather stopped me in my tracks.
If I could move mountains to do those things that I had to do, could I force myself into believing that other things, things that would enhance my life, were urgent and important?
It was interesting though. I realised I was addicted to the buzz working under pressure gave me. I deliberately left things to the last minute, so that I could rush, pretending that what I was doing was important. As with all adrenaline rushes, the thrill and the buzz of being late,couldn’t help me complete those things that needed to be done. This shocked and surprised me.
What was wrong with me?
I thought I knew what I wanted, so why couldn’t I find the energy and motivation to achieve my goals?
Going over my old patterns of behaviour I had another revelation:
I achieved more when I was finding ways to motivate myself every single day.
It sounds such a simple thing to say, but almost impossible to sustain. I’m sure you have heard the phrase, "think good thoughts and good things will happen to you." Well, you may try to think about the good things, but if you could eavesdrop on the conversations going on in your mind you would soon find out your real thoughts. In my case, my non-conscious thought demons were undermining every positive thought with:
~ "yeah right"
~ "who do you think you are"
~ "you’re hopeless"
But how do you stop the negative chatter?
One of the solutions that presented itself came from an unexpected source.
A friend in the UK was also having a bad time. Out of work and he felt, on the wrong side of 50. My friend, lets call him Peter, well Peter is his name after all, happened to mention this to me by email. He knew I worked in the employment sector, so he asked me to have a look at a job application he had put together. Which I did. But instead of focusing on the positives, and all those things he could do and do well, he had highlighted the negatives instead.
Helping Peter overcome the image he had of himself as portrayed through his writing, I sent him a daily reminder of things he needed to do. I joked that he needed to "take his motivational medicine every day.
Working with Peter had given me a whole new insight into myself and my character. I now knew why I had failed so many times; I never had the right kind of support to help me through the daily ups and downs.
The question was – if it worked for Peter, could it work for other people as well? And in doing so, could I provide support and guidance to the most important person in my life? Me! That night I couldn’t sleep. Could I practice what I was preaching? Could I sustain the effort this time and turn myself from a self-help addict into a goal achiever? Did I want to step outside of my zone of comfort and create the life I craved?
It was around this time, I mentioned my work with Peter to my partner Mike. Mike knew me all too well; he knew that if he didn't push me, then this idea would fizzle out, to be replaced by some other project. After all I had a million things on my to do list, but if I were honest with myself, and lets face it, I wasn’t being, they were hardly going to make much difference to me in the long run.
Anyway Mike issued the challenge and registered the Internet domain "MotivateMe!"
Today MotivateMe! holds one of the top spots on Google. But when the domain was created, it was just a personal website, designed as its name suggests - to just motivate me. Until people like you began to find it. It turned out I wasn’t the only one who needed to be prodded, cajoled and encouraged to be more and do more. That was when the final number on the combination clicked into place and the door swung open.
I had had all the evidence in front of me, but I had chosen not to see it. Are you like me, looking but not seeing?
Are you repeating patterns of behaviour that you know should be changed?
Are you waiting for that defining moment?
As you will realise by now, this is not a one-size fits all program. What worked for me, may not work for you. And what worked for you yesterday, may not work for you in the same way tomorrow, as I discovered all too quickly. But as we move through the program you will begin to see where you’ve failed in the past, and what changes you can make so it doesn’t happen again.
If you are willing to change your thoughts, you can begin to change your behaviours. Once you begin to change your behaviours you will begin to change your habits and your life. But only you will know if you are "Ready to Change".
"Hi Elle. One of your best - really hit home for me. I thought I’d changed this habit when I became very ill about 4 years ago and decided not to let things that I could not change rule my life. This reminds me I’ve slipped backed into some of my old ways. Thanks for the reminder. Time to refocus on the things that really matter and I can do something about."
"A perfect message for today - Thank you! I was wondering what today was going to turn out like. I had some important meetings scheduled for today and I could hardly sleep last night. The first thing I saw this morning was your e-mail before heading out the door and you know what - it's now time to head home and everything DID turn out just right! I am relieved."
"I want to thank you for your constant encouragement. I don't always get to read your emails when they come through, when I do get a chance to look at them, it seems the one or two messages I do read were meant just for me at that point in time, and it helps me try yet again – knowing things will work out. Thanks for being a part of the GOOD in the world"