Everything we do in life, we do because we get something out of it. Sometimes the things we get are logical and obvious. For example:
- If you go to work every day. At a minimum you get money out of it. If your work is fun, interesting and educational, you get those things too.
- If you spend time with your children. You feel loved. You learn. You gain a sense of contribution.
- If you exercise every day, you feel better. You look better. You also maintain better health each time you put on your exercise gear and begin training.
- If you study, you gain an education.
The list goes on.
Sometimes the payoff is not so obvious. These are often the times when we have things, or experiences or people in lives that we say we don’t want, or that we believe create unhappiness or frustration for us.
Think carefully for a moment about something or someone in your life that you say you don’t want. Then dare to ask the question… What do I get out of it?
What is my payoff?
Struggling to see what I mean? Let’s explore possible scenarios…
- Got a partner that won’t let you make any of the decisions? Congratulations, you never have to take responsibility for any results you get that you don’t like.
- Too busy with everything going on in your life that you simply can’t make space for the person you’d really like to be in a relationship with? Congratulations, you won’t have to deal with the relationship and self-esteem issues you fear and do not have to risk the pain if the relationship doesn’t work out.
- Too busy procrastinating that you don’t ever getting around to finishing the book you’re writing? Congratulations, you never have to deal with any criticisms or judgements of your work.
This list of possible scenarios is infinite. In every case though, the only person who can know the true payoff is you.
That doesn’t mean it will necessarily be easy to see. Your own mind will fight you with the beautiful and well-crafted story you’ve been playing out in your head for years (or maybe even your whole life) about why it’s happening to you and not because of you.
You are living your story.
I often encounter plenty of resistance in coaching when I start asking questions about payoffs. The resistance isn’t so much against having to admit that there is a payoff; it’s the realisation about what follows that admission.
Admitting that you’re getting a payoff is tantamount to admitting that you’re probably the biggest cause of your current situation. Admitting that means changing your situation comes down to you too.
Keep faith though. If you can see the payoff, and admit that it’s there, you’ve taken the biggest and most important step.