sell yourself on change

It’s coming up on that time of year again. You know, the time where you seriously commit to the same resolution that you seriously committed to last year… before life got in the way and it evaporated into thin air.

Depending on who you ask, up to 85% percent of all New Year’s resolutions involved some element of lifestyle change, be it weight loss, exercise, better nutrition, improved life-balance or more sleep. And, of those, nearly 50% have been broken by the end of January, while 90% bite the dust by June.

Problem is, just saying you want to do something isn’t enough to make it happen. You need to literally sell yourself on the need to make it happen, then create a plan and set up a support and accountability structure.

Selling is an art form, even when we’re selling ourselves.

This is especially true when the actions that would lead to the result being sold are viewed as unpleasant, i.e., exercise and diet. So, let’s take a lesson from legendary master of persuasion and 7-figure copywriter and marketer, Dan Kennedy.

In his book, The Ultimate Sale Letter, Dan reveals a highly-effective 3-step sales process:

  1. Problem: Identify the problem or need that is not being satisfied
  2. Agitate: Stir up the problem to make it more present, more inflamed, more painful and more in need of immediate resolution
  3. Solve: Present a solution, a way out of the pain

It’s pretty easy to see how this 3-step process might work when trying to sell someone else, but we can also use it to sell ourselves on actions that we often view as unpleasant in the name of losing weight, getting fit, de-stressing, improving our health or just being able to do more with our lives.

Here’s how to sell yourself on lifestyle change:

  • Problem: Rather than just resolving to change some behavior or accomplish some goal, take a step back and define the problem that you are trying to solve by accomplishing your goal or resolution. Put another way, ask what’s important about achieving your goal/resolution or what’s wrong that you’re trying to fix. For example you might want to:
    • Rebuild your confidence – you feel bad about yourself when you look in a mirror and want to feel better.
    • Get off medication – high blood pressure is making you feel sick and the medication you take to control it kills your energy.
    • Recapture your inner-calm – stress is making you so anxious, you’re on medication to control it.
    • Get horny – don’t want to have sex anymore because you feel so self-conscious about your body.
  • Agitate: Once you’ve gone past a general desire to attain a result and defined the problem that the result will fix, it’s time to drill-down a bit and do some agitating. This is not the most-enjoyable process, because, when it comes to lifestyle change, it almost always requires you to do two unpleasant things: (1) face the present as it truly is and (2) visualize the future, should you stay on your current course. For many, neither is an appealing exploration. So, rather than agitating the problem, we do the exact opposite and avoid or minimize it so we don’t feel uncomfortable. The problem is that it is this very process of agitation and discomfort that serves as a huge motivation to take action. It brings our pain to the surface and gives us the opportunity to take action to remove ourselves from it. Looking at our first example above, we’d build on our disgust looking in the mirror and ask two more questions:
    • First, we’d ask the ‘what’s important’ question again to try to get to a deeper motivating force. In fact, we might ask it a few times until the motivational onion is fully peeled.
    • Then, we’d ask what our lives will look like 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the road should we choose not to make any changes.
    • Take the time to write out your answers in as much detail as possible.
  • Solve: This is where we finally get back to your original resolution, recommit to a specific goal and then take the step that almost nobody takes: make a plan of action. Take out a calendar, choose a start date and write down the exact actions you will take every day for the first 30-days to make your goal your reality. If you need help with this step, get it. Items on that plan might include joining a gym, seeing a nutritionist, hiring a trainer, finding a therapist or joining a team. Then, tell someone close to you about goal, the underlying reasons for it and your plan. Give them a copy of your plan and get their commitment to ask you about it every day for 30-days to provide a level of accountability.

Using the classic three-step method to sell yourself not only on lifestyle change, but on the very actions that will create it is a powerful step in making this year’s resolutions different than next year’s.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and additions in the comments below.

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