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The Secret To Lasting Change—Unlock The System

March 08, 2020

A client of mine was struggling in his sales career.

He said he knew why:


He said that because of his family life, he wasn’t able to get to bed at a reasonable time. He’d wake up tired.

Waking up tired made him lazy and not feel like making phone calls.

He reasoned that if he could get more sleep, he’d make more sales calls. More sales calls would soon turn into more sales. More sales, more money.

Now, this was not my first rodeo. I knew that his sales struggles were likely not just because of sleep.

But, if I told him that, he may or may not have believed me. If he tried and failed on his own, then we would know for sure that sleep was not the problem.

If you tell someone something they doubt it. If they tell themself, they believe it.

So I bit my tongue and we worked on him going to bed earlier. He put agreements in place with his wife and children to let him get to bed earlier in the evening.

How’d it work?

Great...for 3 days.

After the novelty wore off, he was right back to his old ways.

Undeterred, we continued to try multiple strategies to get him to bed earlier:

  • Pre-exhaust himself by working out during the day. (Didn’t have an effect, he stayed up anyways.)
  • Sleeping-in instead of going to bed early. (He felt guilty sleeping-in when his kids were going off to school. Couldn’t do it.)
  • Naps during the day. (Many days he didn’t have the time to nap. Still not a good solution) After a month or so of nothing working, we decided to let it go for the time being. We’d work on other parts of his life instead and come back to sleep later.

It turns out that he had quite a bit of emotion in those other areas of his life.

He hated his job.

His marriage was challenging.

We started working on these and in a short period of time, he changed careers, and had significantly improved his relationship with his wife.

He forgot about sleep being a problem, he never brought it up anymore.

A few months later, I asked him about it.

He said he hadn’t thought about sleep, but was surprised to realize that without any effort he was now getting to bed early and waking up refreshed!

When I asked him how he accomplished it after so much of what he tried had failed, he said, “I think it’s easier now that I am happier.”

Our bodies and minds are amazing systems.

If you cut your finger, it will repair itself on its own.

Is that not crazy?

You do nothing but wait and your finger will be repaired.

When our bodies need nourishment, we feel hungry and get the idea to eat.

When we’re low on oxygen, we breathe more.

All of this is done automatically.

It really is incredible if you think about it.

But then there is the voice in our heads that wants change. We want something different. We want a different life. We want to go to bed earlier.

But these dreams and desires exist in a vacuum. They do not take into account the many aspects of the systems they are enmeshed in.

My client wanted better sleep, so we worked on it. But what he didn’t recognize was the complex system of thoughts, beliefs, and emotion that was underlying his behavior.

There were other forces in his life that were making his desired life changes difficult.

So if you are caught in the loop of wanting something, striving, and not getting it, maybe it’s time to give up and embrace the mystery of the system that governs your behavior.

There are many unique factors that are influencing our automatic mental and physical systems, most of which are totally unknown to us.

Relax. Take the pressure off. Subtract.

Let your mind clear.

A clear mind is the best chance any of us have to glimpse these important variables.

From there, an insight into the inner working of the system may be gleamed, and we can unlock a change that will actually last.

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