Part One: Learn to Sneeze
Several weeks ago the muscles in my lower back staged a revolt, making it impossible to sit, stand, walk, or lie down without enormous pain. Every time I’m just about over it, something simple trips the spasms again and I’m back to hobbling — one time it was putting on a sock; another time I bent over the sink to brush my teeth and BAM! Five more days of hobbling in slow motion.
The most recent issue was a violent sneezing fit, which blew out my back; I collapsed to the ground in pain, bruising my hip in the process. The pain is omnipresent, yet it feels so ridiculous that I have to laugh every time I think about it!
In every challenge there are lessons. Here’s how I connect coaching and back pain:
1. Slow Down.
You can’t ignore the pain, but by staying slow and deliberate all the muscles still work. I had to “re-learn” how to sit down and stand up, and in the process became more attentive to every movement.
When you are trying to change a habit, you also have to slow down and be deliberate about everything you are doing – or not doing.
2. Keep Moving.
To heal a bone, you must immobilize it, but to heal a muscle, you want to keep it stretching and flexing.
If you want to strengthen a new skill, you can’t just read about it and expect it to “show up” the next time you’re stuck. You have to try it out, test it in conversation, and notice how that new behavior feels.
3. Learn How to Sneeze Properly.
Until I had this crisis with my back, I’d never thought about “how to” sneeze. Yet once that sneeze smacked me down, I had a new context for learning something new. (Visit this site to learn how to stop a sneeze)
For many people, moments of crisis open up new awareness, e.g. that they could be Happier or that their Leadership skills need work. FAILURE is a great teacher and motivator; PAIN prompts us to seek alternative paths.
4. Stay On the Edge of Discomfort.
To get better at anything, you must constantly challenge yourself. I am reminded of this every time a friend or relative has surgery on a knee, hip, or heart — within hours, a nurse has them up and walking, testing their limits. So I kept moving, testing, finding the very edge of my pain, noticing that each day it was a little farther out.
Changing a habit requires that you step outside your comfort zone, and if your end goal is quite different from current reality, that gap can feel terrifying. So don’t try to run before you walk. Start small, and remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
5. Ask For Help.
I reclined on the floor with my granddaughter to read her a story, and it was a lovely experience…until I discovered that I did not have the core strength to get up! I had to call my wife for help. We had a good laugh, once I stopped flailing about!
It’s hard to be an objective observer of yourself. When you’re striving to change, enlist the help of friends, family, and coworkers to help you stay accountable to your goals.
Part Two: Recommit to Your Goals, Anytime
Yesterday morning at the gym, three quarters of the treadmills were occupied. One month ago — and one month from now — mostly empty. Many people set New Years Resolutions about health, and by the end of January we “regulars” are the only ones showing up.
What’s going on? Excitement at the start of the New Year fuels many people, but within a few weeks old habits and patterns re-emerge and the energy dies.
What if you could recapture that energy of a new beginning, without having to wait until next January 1?
Try a new story — the year is full of beginnings! Four seasons begin in March, June, September, and December. Every month has a First. School starts in August, another term in January. Every week has a Sunday. A Monday, for that matter. Every weekend begins with a Friday. Every morning begins when your alarm sounds.
That’s 535 different Beginnings from which to launch a new goal, a new habit, or a new commitment to leadership, happiness, or self-care. And that’s just a short list.
Remember there is nothing magical about January 1. The best time to begin a new path is today. And remember the Chinese Proverb, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Part One: Learn to Sneeze
Read more articles like this one in: Everyday Happiness, Happiness, Health