Posted by: James Shannon | February 18, 2010

Change Through Pain Leverage: How to Achieve Results Through Exposure to Extreme Discomfort

inswolpaiiswealeatheboddisandbecgod_poeLife coaching by Insanity Wolf. A little extreme, but sometimes you need a little pain in your life to push yourself towards the results you desire! (image source)

So you know Who you want to become, What you want in your life, Where you want to be, When you want it to become reality, and Why you are taking action on all of the former.

One last element of the change equation remains unsolved however; How on Earth am I going to make it all happen?

The simple answer is to figure out the first necessary task that makes your ultimate goal possible, put one foot in front of the other ad infinitum, until you eventually get there. Depending on your level of motivation however, this could take months, or even years!

That’s a little too long for our tastes … we need a catalyst to make changes happen rapidly!  Enter the power of pain leverage. This is a little different than fear setting that Tim Ferriss talks about in The Four Hour Work Week ; instead of playing out and deconstructing a nightmare scenario in your head to make change less scary, we aim to make changing far more preferable to the status quo by making the status quo as uncomfortable and painful (within reason of course!) as possible.

It was my last job at the paper recycling warehouse that propelled me to make the necessary changes that have allowed me to move to the Rocky Mountains and successfully pursue the great life that I lead presently.  I could have snap quit my job after dealing with the vomit garbage bag that came in on a cardboard load one day.  But I didn’t.  I decided to use this job as an experiment to see how these vastly undesirable conditions could push me into action on things that I’ve always meant to do, but couldn’t be arsed to do in my previous job as a trades helper (comfortable but boring job).

With fresh memories of food waste, dusty air, and physical scars in the form of dry cracked hands (from continuous exposure to paper and cold dry air), I drew out plans to free myself from the (not-so) Merry-Go-Round of meaningless jobs that had been assuming to maintain my aimless journey through life.

drycrablehan_poeThis is what a dry Alberta winter and working with waste paper will do to your hands…! (image source)

After enduring a particularly bad day at work (read: hard-headed boss meets entrepreneurial-minded employee that doesn’t like being told what to do) , I finally broke through my objections to moving to Jasper, and got to work searching for an opportunity.  Six weeks later, I’m packing my bags and selling my furniture, and off to Paradise I went!

Now you don’t have to go get a job at the dump to make this change happen in your life;  just take any status quo behavior, pick out the negative aspects it possesses and make them grotesque, evil, unavoidably PAINFUL. For smoking, this means checking out documentary films of cancer patients; if you can’t find any, visit your local hospital and visit the palliative care unit (i.e. where terminal patients go to die with as much dignity as possible).  Hammer away at yourself for days at a time with this intense negative stimulus, and soon changing will become a much more attractive option in comparison to the status quo.

I am presently using this technique again to battle my addiction to soda/pop, as they contain high levels of high fructose corn syrup; a recent study has revealed that drinking soda twice a week doubles your chance of pancreatic cancer.  Big deal, right?  You bet.  Pancreatic cancer has a 94% fatality rate over five years, and according to 1st hand accounts, it’s a very painful, drawn out death.

With this frame in my mind, I am more determined than ever to end this health-threatening habit.  How about you? How have you/will you use(d) pain leverage to achieve change in your life?


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