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Not to invoke Albert Einstein too early in this blog, but … “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 

According to that definition, I’ve definitely qualified as insane a few times in my life. And there’s rarely been anything more crazy-inducing than my past tendency to try to “hack” my way through life.

I was convinced that there was a “quick fix” to any number of problems — my fitness, the fact that I hated my job, even finding a relationship — and if only I could find the right system, methodology, or steps, then everything would be golden once and for all.

In my quest to find a magic bullet, I have thrown thousands of dollars at my problems over the years.

I’m guessing you might be able to relate.

GETTING MY BUTT IN SHAPE

Everyone has an Achilles’ heel in life, and exercise is definitely (one of) mine.

I just don’t like it. I’m sorry, but that’s how it is. I can’t for the life of me understand why people enjoy being in pain. (Maybe there’s a point at which it stops being painful? I wouldn’t know!)

But nevertheless, I care about being healthy. I want to live a long life, and I want to give my body what it needs to thrive.

So up until recently, I was on a quest to find the “right thing” for me when it comes to exercise. Because, naturally, I was convinced that the reason I resisted exercise so much was because I hadn’t found anything I liked enough to do regularly.

You could chart my pattern like clockwork.

I’d start by getting fed up with myself for not exercising, and then react to that by making an impulse buy. This is usually when I’d find a “booty lifting” or “cardio dance” program in my online cart.

I’d get into the new program for a few weeks, then I’d get bored and the whole thing would fizzle.

Pissed off about that, I’d think, “OK, I’m just not good at holding myself accountable. I know! I’ll buy passes to Bikram yoga so that I have to go!”

And for a few months, I’d get into Bikram … until June rolled around and it was impossible to be in a 120-degree room for 90 minutes.

OK, fine. Obviously more personal attention is what’s needed, so a personal trainer it is!” … until I ended up gifting my unused sessions to Kristen.

I have so much crap literally and figuratively collecting dust.

RIP to: the beautiful bike that’s rusting away in my basement closet that I rode maybe 10 times, the Brazilian butt lift DVD and equipment under my bed, the workout program that promised I only had to do it for 15 minutes every 3 days (and still … I couldn’t keep up with it), the countless unused class passes and Groupons, and all the gyms that barely knew me.

And if you thought it was just exercise, you’d be mistaken.

I LOOOOOVE TO BUY COURSES AND NEVER TAKE THEM

I love learning, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But … spending $500 on a course and never once logging in? That might be a problem.

Maybe it’s the sleek marketing tactics, but damn, some of those things just get you every time:

“Yes! I do need access to 100 interviews with women who found their soul mate in 90 days or less!”

“Learn how to be a business magician and attract beau coups clients? Sign me up!”

“Create social media fame overnight so that money will flow in buckets? Uh huh!”

And to be fair … sometimes I did log in. Sometimes we (because Kristen doesn’t get off the hook that easily) did half or even all of a program.

Oh, and the books! And the planners! How many countless systems have promised to make me a more organized, goals-crushing person (in 12 weeks or less)? And how many planners did I use for 2 weeks, only to recycle a year later?

And let’s not forget the thousands of dollars we’ve spent on coaches and consultants over the years … only to discover after working with most of them that we already had all the insights we needed.

BUT THAT’S WHY THROWING MONEY AT YOUR PROBLEMS IS EASY

It’s a lot easier to assume that something or someone else has the magic fix. Because if that’s the case, then you can hand over your money and wait for life to right itself.

When you’re convinced there’s a magic bullet, you give your power to someone else and make the problem their responsibility. And when (inevitably) there is no quick fix, you assume you just haven’t found the right person/system/method.

This mentality is convenient because you never really have to do much. You bounce from quick fix to quick fix, all the while never having to make any real progress because you keep starting over. It’s a procrastinator’s dream!

And of course, it’s never your fault that life isn’t working out for you, or you can’t get in shape, or you can’t find love, or whatever … you just haven’t found the right magic bullet yet.

When you believe in quick fixes, you never have to take responsibility for what’s not working or do any deeper thinking about why it’s not working.

NO AMOUNT OF MONEY WILL EVER FIX YOUR PROBLEMS

It’s like people who’ve gotten egregious amounts of plastic surgery and still go back under the knife — no amount of physical alteration is going to make them feel beautiful if, at their core, they believe they aren’t good enough or worthy enough as they are.

Until you address the underlying issue, no amount of money, courses, exercise regimens, lovers, botox, whatever, will ever change a thing.

Looking for a “quick fix” (in other words, trying to buy an external solution to an internal problem) is how we attempt to bypass the real work.

When it comes to exercise, I had to stop throwing money at new programs/gyms/classes and finally examine the intention behind that pattern.

Here’s what I realized:

I was overly obsessed with the results, and I wasn’t at all interested in the process.

I wanted what I was being sold — a trimmer, leaner, stronger physique — and I wanted it to be easy, and then I wanted it to be over. (As if exercise is something you can do for 90 days and then stop.)

I wanted to go through the motions and get the results, but not actually change my attitude about exercise … which is why nothing I tried ever lasted.

Changing my attitude about exercise meant accepting that there is no such thing as a quick fix. And that if you’re doing it for the results, you’re in it for the wrong reason.

Funnily enough, I exercise more consistently now than I ever have. It’s pretty low-key — walking, yoga, swimming, some light weights. I’m no longer doing it for an end result (seeing positive changes is just an added bonus). I’m doing it because I want to live a healthy lifestyle.

And even though I still want to die when I’m working my abs in yoga, I understand that pain is just a temporary part of the process and, get this … you don’t have to enjoy every second of something in order to do it. That’s been a revelation for me.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Oh, and the courses and business consultants? They were usually an excuse to avoid trusting my own intuition and a convenient way to keep focusing on theory and never take any action.

But the courses and coaches that did work? Well, first … I logged in. And then I did every single piece of the process. I wasn’t trying to fast forward through the hard parts. I didn’t just want the end result. I wanted to actually grow and change.

Remember, there’s nothing inherently good or bad about any course, exercise regimen, or whatever else you invest your money in. Like most things in life, why you do anything is more important than what you’re doing.

So, what about you? What have you found yourself throwing money at? Share with me, in the comments!

IF YOU LIKED THIS, THEN YOU’LL ALSO LOVE …

Why you need to stop fighting your life and just go with it

Are you actually *qualified* for happiness?

Taking the slow train to get fast results

Much Love,

Rachel (& Kristen)

14 comments | add a comment | Share this > Tweet this > Email this >
  1. While I very rarely waste money in doing so, I can really relate to the “quick fix” thinking. Especially when it comes to courses/books/theories, etc. Like you said, I collect all this information, but procrastinate when it comes to putting what I’ve learned into practice. I think part of it is my fear of failure and hope for perfection the first time. What if it doesn’t work?
    I can also relate to the exercise issue. I so wish it could be one or a few and done. But the reality is, exercise has to become a regular part of your lifestyle. I know that intellectually but again, procrastinate putting it into practice.
    Thanks for commiserating. It really helps knowing you are not the only one going through something.

    1. I’m glad this hit home for you! And yes, it can totally be motivated by a fear of failure. It’s so much easier to keep *thinking* about something, and collecting all sorts of intellectual understanding, than it is to actually go out there and *do it.*

  2. You MUST be my twin!!! You spoke of EVERY thing I have done; excitement over the next ‘new’ thing, spend money on it with the desire to have a quick fix outcome, procrastination, paralysis & frustration has been my cycle of INSANITY! I don’t like how I look, yet I want to look beautiful on the outside to feel better on the inside, which will lead others to wanting me to be a part of their lives. I don’t like how I look, yet I want a guy to say he’d accept & love me just as I am which will make me feel better about being in the body I’m in. I don’t like the fact that I don’t have a job, yet it’s because I don’t know what I really like to do because I’m busy liking everything I haven’t chosen one thing to focus on. I’ve spent money on gadgets, videos, courses, books and even people. I have dreams of being great, yet the way I’m living this life journey, I’m NOT going to get there. Not knowing WHY I am this way and not committing to myself is VERY discouraging. I know I’m not the only one, yet I can’t help anyone else when they see I’m not committed to the best for myself. I NEED my healing.

    1. You know, it sounds like you’re circling around a really profound point in this comment: Until YOU choose you, no one else will. Whether that’s with love or career, or anything else. Until you honor, respect, and accept yourself, you can’t ask anyone else to do the same.

      As far as the job thing goes, don’t be afraid to pick one thing and try it out just *for now.* You sound like you might be suffering from fear of having to pick just ONE thing forever, and that’s definitely not something that has to be true. This blog post might resonate with you:

      https://clarityonfire.com/hummingbird-or-jackhammer/

  3. Before becoming a minimalist I could relate to SO many of these things.

    I was a junkie of “Free online courses to help you “insert amazing thing here” in just one week…”

    I also had wayyy to many empty journals, partially used planners, and books I had never even read the introduction of.

    I am so thankful I have learned to embrace the power of less is more because I was always feeling so overwhelmed from things I had yet to complete before as they filled me with guilt.

    Love this post and can totally relate.

    1. I’ve definitely become more and more attracted to minimalism over the years! Simplicity is a big value of mine now. And I’m definitely a fan of picking just one or two things and focusing on them, versus trying to spread my attention across too many things and not making any progress on ANY of them. A great book that helped me a LOT in this regard is Essentialism by Greg McKeown!

  4. I actually relate to everyone’s comments. Quick or not, I need a fix yet I don’t even know what’s broken. I too am a minimalist, yet Istill cant’ figure out what’s missing. And it is difficult to work towards something if you don’t even know what it is your hoping to find. This post helped me confirm what I’ve been thinking for some time now. there is no quick fix and it’s is absolutely and totally unnecessary for me to be so hard on myself and in a hurry to figure myself out. I am going to give myself some grace and space and trust my faith. In other words practice what i preach!

    1. Practicing what we preach is so hard, isn’t it?? It’s so much easier to just want the results, but not want to deal with the soul searching or striving or confusion that goes with the process of getting there.

  5. I feel like you just described me. I obsess over outward appearances with clothes, beauty products and exercise always seeking approval. The planners and courses are definitely another area where I think if I just do this I’ll be ready to make the big changes I want but I let fear stop me and little failures (like not using the planner or finishing the course) serve as verification that I will fail. There are certainly some root insecurities that need to addressed first rather than focusing on any external quick fix that won’t work. Thank you for this post. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

    1. One of my favorite things about having a blog is that I can prove to people that they aren’t the only ones thinking or feeling a certain way; usually they’re one of MANY people! 🙂

  6. Oh. I actually DO the courses I buy.

    I wish to tell you, from bitter experience, that desired results DO NOT materialise in even teeny ways.

    That hollow feeling of utter disappointment. The lack of depth and quality. Conned again.

    Even when I ask, with that horrid INTP precision – ‘Will doing this answer that?’ ‘Oh yes! As sure as the sun rises.’
    That is a naughty porkie.

    I have no regrets lingering in my closets. I have enormous respect for the people who write that delicious, button-pushing copy for ‘Come buy my promises and Bright Shiny Objects’.

    And I rarely buy anything much, these days.

    1. I think it takes getting conned a few times to recognized quality when we see it, and hone our discernment capabilities! I’m with you — I rarely buy anything like that these days. If I do, it’s because I’ve really gotten to know the person or brand behind what’s being sold, and I trust not only them, but my own intentions for doing it!

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