This is the second installment in the Threshold series. If you missed the first post, click here.

It takes time to boil water. Applied heat over time raises the temperature of water until it finally boils at 212 degrees F. Simple science.

The same principle can be applied to life.  The result is not simple.

Unconscious Living

Over time, we get to this place of auto pilot. I do it when I drive. Suddenly, I arrive at my destination without having consciously participated in turning the wheel, applying the brakes, and watching the road. Scary but it’s the brain’s way of identifying known patterns of behavior.

Why use up available neuron power to do well-known tasks? Just retrieve the data and kick it into motion. Of course, should something cause a variance to the activity like a red light, or a car behaving erratically, auto pilot drops and your mental acuity rockets up. It keeps you safe.

It’s a good mechanism. We are not overloaded with minutia. We are free to think about other things while we drive.

But, when we run on default for much of our life, things work perfectly as designed … but sometimes not in our favor.

Patterns of Destruction

Our sustained activities over time are habits.

When we know that lack of activity is probably not a good idea, why do we persist in a sedentary life? If our blood pressure is too high, why do we persist in eating unhealthy foods? If we are always exhausted, why don’t we go to bed earlier?

Habits. And, we are consciously aware of our agreement with our habit to continue in spite of overwhelming facts to change.

Some people are disciplined enough to stop a habit and replace
it with a more resourceful choice. But some of us don’t have that kind of self-control. We permit something else to make that choice for us. Usually a catastrophic one: a medical event, a career derailment, a relationship failure to name a few.

The proverbial wall is hit. The end of the rope has appeared. Choices are gone.

Avoidance or Goal Oriented

As we flirt with a catastrophic event, we are consciously assessing our ability to make a change, reduce damage, or avoid the event entirely. We are aware that something needs to happen. Our level of control in the situation heightens. We pit ourselves against habits that have served us in the past.

Control is the underlying force.

If you don’t want your options removed for you, what would have to happen for you to make a life change?

A key element in making changes in habits is to decide what you gain or lose with the change.

For example, a long time ago, I used to smoke cigarettes until a friend said why wait for a heart attack, stop now. Done. I didn’t want a heart attack; so the choice was clear. I had a high avoidance reaction to make my change happen.

Another friend lost a tremendous amount of weight. The driving reason for her was she wanted to be healthy. A goal and positive reaction to make her change happen.

What drives you to make changes in your life? Is is an avoidance of something bad? Or do you change for a goal oriented result? (One is not better than the other.)

Or do you let time and habits make the decision for you?

Let me know how your change mechanisms run and how that has worked for you.

The next installment in the Threshold series is about clarity of choice.