Reprinted from October 2, 2018
Have you ever said that you are, “ready, willing, and able,” to tackle the task at hand? The phrase rattles off the tongue quite effortlessly, conjuring images of a soldier in uniform stepping up to the front lines with a salute, ready for battle. I’ve said it often without a second thought, but as I often do, recently I stopped to think about it a little more and wonder if perhaps the words should be rearranged.
In my work as a Certified Wellness Coach, being ready for change is a big topic of conversation. After asking about and listening to many people’s desires and strategies for change, I propose that we put the words in reverse order to discover what we are able, willing, and ready to do to create change in our lives.
This first stage is pretty easy, because most of the things we want to do for healthy living are tasks we are able to do. With a few exceptions, we have the ability to buy fruits and vegetables instead of cookies and soda at the store, to drive to the gym for an exercise class or walk in the neighborhood, and to turn off the lights and go to bed at a certain time. Our arms and legs work in such a way that we are able to do those things, and we’re adults so generally we have some level of control over our time. There are some of us for whom these things are a challenge, but on the average, our functional ability is high; we are able to do most anything.
Now we’re getting into some rougher terrain. After all, what we are able to do and what we are willing to do can be quite different. Sure, you’re able to get in the car and drive to the exercise class, but are you willing to miss something else in order to do it? You have the ability to sip on coffee or tea while others have dessert, but are you willing to? It can take some time to sort out what we are really willing to do - and miss out on - in order to have a particular outcome. Be honest with yourself about what level of hassle you are willing to tolerate in your life if it means that you can make progress on a goal that is important to you.
This is where we get to the good stuff! Being able to do things is a gimme, and being willing to do things feels kind of like being talked into something. But being ready? That’s exciting! Being ready to take action is a great place to be because that’s exactly where you are: ready for something. The best way to figure out what you are ready to take action on is to think about feels like a step in the right direction, and also not like too much work. For example, you know you are able to buy fruits and veggies for snacks during the week, and you might agree that you are even willing to eat fruits and veggies as snacks a few times a week. The next step is determining what you feel ready to do, like maybe you feel ready to bring them to work with you so they are available when you need a snack.
Now, I realize you may be reading this and thinking, “I’m ready to sit here in my chair and do nothing, how about that?” That’s fair, because this process is for people who want to change, not stay the same. The key to using the able/willing/ready process to get started towards change is to challenge yourself a bit and nudge yourself towards the next step. The results you experience will be relative to the amount of challenge and effort you put in. The more willing you are to take action, the more you will be rewarded.
The beauty of working toward change is that it is a fluid process. Rarely do we get up, begin doing things differently, and never look back or get off track. So, if you find that the speed at which you are trying to change things is too fast, slow down. You can even go back to the old way of doing things. It’s your choice.
My question for you this week is are you able? Yes. Are you willing? Perhaps. Are you ready? Well, ready or not, your life is here. Jump on in!