In May, Kevin, a P.E. teacher in Massachusetts, set out to kick his Mountain Dew habit. He is a triathlete and a yoga teacher and wanted to uplevel his commitment to his body. He knew he needed accountability to go 30 days without his favorite afternoon hit, and as his coach, I knew he needed a good consequence if he caved. Even though he is a badass triathlete, the man is human after all! We all crash sometimes and need to get back onto our bike and pedal harder toward our dream.
When I asked Kevin to come up with a consequence should he break his promise of no Mountain Dew, I asked him to look at another area of his life that he wanted to upgrade to find something that would benefit him but that he didn’t want to do.
When Kevin looked me in the eye on our video call and said he had an idea for a consequence but wasn’t sure he wanted to say it out loud, I knew he had nailed it! Consequences are not supposed to be fun. We should dread them enough that they keep us from breaking our promises. His idea was perfect.
Kevin’s work environment was tense. He was the only male in the building and he didn’t have a great relationship with most of the female teachers. This was an area of life he wanted to elevate. His consequence became his first step.
If he drank a Mountain Dew during the month of May Kevin would have to eat lunch in the teacher’s lounge. Just the thought made him cringe so much that for weeks, when his head begged him to pull the car over to grab a soda, the thought of walking into that lounge and facing the other teachers kept him driving to his fridge of healthy food. That’s power of a good consequence right there, my friends.
Then, because Kevin is human just like we are, he caved. He listened to the bratty voice in his head telling him he deserved a Mountain Dew after a hard day, and drank one. He knew he was going to have to pay up but, man, he didn’t want to. In his words, “Putting myself in an environment where I might not be welcome made keeping that consequence challenging. But I knew I had to.”
At Handel Group, we help people reach their dreams through promises and consequences. When you make a promise to yourself to go after something you dream about, you commit deeper to it. Promises are little bits of daily accountability. Kevin’s promise was to go 30 days without Mountain Dew to reach his dream of a healthier body.
Consequences keep us accountable to our dreams and ultimately aware of our own personal integrity. So when the voices in our heads that do NOT have our happiness and dreams in mind get LOUD, a good consequence can fight against them. A well-designed consequence will prevent us from listening to those voices and breaking our promise. A consequence is not punishment, but rather a reminder to refocus on your dream. Then if you break a promise, forget making excuses and forget feeling guilty, instead pay up with a self-imposed consequence and continue on the race toward your dream.
So what happened when Kevin walked into that teacher’s lounge?
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He explains, “When I entered the teachers room for the first time in years, I knew I wasn’t going to say much, but I had to be there because I had to honor the consequence. One teacher, Barbara, eventually reached out and included me. It was a relief. But the thing that really landed with me was when she stopped me later in the hallway and said it was really nice to have lunch. There was a bridge built at that moment. The construction started… Months later, on the last day of school, I hugged her goodbye and thanked her for making me feel welcome.”
“Consequences really work. Honoring that consequence has spanned my confidence to engage with other co-workers. I am now comfortable being myself at work and that all grew from eating in the teachers room as a consequence of drinking a Mountain Dew. It’s that simple!”
Kevin is now looking for a new consequence because he enjoys his school lunches and his workplace so much these days.
What a difference a Dew makes!