Is Your Thermostat Set to Mediocre?


I learned about thermostats and how they worked at a very young age. My Pop Pop was a plumbing and heating contractor, and I went to work with him, my Dad, and my Uncles from the time I was five years old. By the time I was seven or eight years old, I was wiring the classic Honeywell round thermostats that you probably picture when you hear the word “thermostat”. I always thought that these devices were awesome, one of the many simple features of a first world upbringing that we take for granted. Think about it, you set a dial to a specific temperature, and a complex series of events take place to ensure that your home stays consistently at that selected temperature; not too hot, not too cold.

The thermostat is also a metaphor that I use frequently to describe our ability as humans to operate within a few “degrees” of our comfort zone at all times, rarely exceeding our programmed setting, and only working to turn up the heat if our conditions drop below what we consider acceptable.

We all have these “settings” in our lives.

  • If you notice that you always tend to have about the same amount of money on hand or in the bank, often  within a few dollars of what is needed to cover your basic expenses, then your financial thermostat is probably set to “get by”.
  • If you find that you are sporadic in your efforts in the gym, or with your diet, making little in the form of measurable progress with your body month after month, year after year, then your body thermostat is probably set very close to whatever you currently see when you look in the mirror.
  • If you find that you are in a relationship that is generally unfulfilling, or do/are not meeting the type of dynamic, interesting, and truly exciting people that would truly enrich your life with their presence each day, then your relationship thermostat is probably set to “boring and mediocre”.

If you can relate to the financial example, consider what it takes to truly motivate you to get creative and bring in some income. Let’s say you’re living your normal paycheck to paycheck life, making the minimum payments on credit cards that are near maxed, that you used to buy things that never really brought you the joy that you thought they would at the time. You’re finding that you have too much “week left at the end of the money”, as Jim Rohn used to say. What does it take for you to get resourceful and really push to generate some liquid funds?

  • A costly but necessary car repair?
  • A crapped out water heater?
  • Meeting a new girl that you want to take out and impress?

If you’re chronically unhappy with your body, think of a time in your life where you made serious progress.

  • Were you working towards a specific goal that “pulled” you towards it?
  • Did you wake up one day and see an image in the mirror that had gotten so bad that it repulsed you?
  • Did you meet a girl that you wanted to take out and impress?

You see, what happens in these instances is our thermostats drop below our “comfortable” setting by a significant enough margin to make us say “enough is enough”, and fire up the furnace. If the temperature doesn’t fall enough to trip that switch, we tend to abide by Newton’s Law regarding objects at rest; we stay at rest.

Now, what happens when we get back to our point of comfort? What do we tend to do then?
If you guessed kill the flames and get comfortable again, you’re probably right.

Just like the temperature reaching a certain limit and satisfying the thermostat, once we get back into our comfort zone, pay the bill, lose a few inches, or clean up the house to a “respectable” degree, we tend to back our efforts off quite a bit.

Sadly, most continually bump the thermostat down a bit year after year in many areas of their lives. This occurs as result of feedback from our conditions creating a belief about our identity.

  • After years of “just getting by”, we begin to accept that where we are financially is pretty much where we will stay.
  • After a few bad relationships, or a few years in an unfulfilling one, we tend to settle and think “that’s just how it is”.
  • After a few years of being overweight, skinny fat, or otherwise unhappy with our physiques we tend to accept that we just don’t have the “genetics” to have a great body, or some other equally flaccid excuse.

Why would we do this?

We do this because it is easier to rationalize and create excuses as to why we aren’t where we want to be than it is to keep the furnace burning around the clock, day after day in an effort to bring the house up to a temperature that very well might seem out of reach, or even “unrealistic” in the moment.

Want to know the secret of highly successful people?

They like their houses extremely hot.

The furnace kicks on, does the work necessary to make the room comfortable, and then keeps burning and burning because the “perceived” temperature that indicates comfort is not in the same ballpark as your number, it is much much higher.

Think about a few times in your life where you really cranked up the heat because your current situation was far enough below what you were comfortable with that you finally acted to make change.

What do you suppose would happen if you ratcheted up the dial on your internal thermostat today?

What would it take to program it to melt the paint off of the walls?

This process of adjusting your thermostat is one of the most common topics that I work with my Coaching clients to accomplish each and every day. It is truly amazing the amount of resourcefulness and creativity that these people demonstrate once what represents “comfortable” to them becomes a much higher number, a much greater distance from their current conditions.

What are you waiting for?

Adjust your thermostat today; your quality of life is not an area where you should be concerned with energy conservation.




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