When’s the last time you promised yourself to make some changes, either break or make a new habit? And how long did your changes last?
Changing habits can be one of the hardest things to do. Once we decide to lose weight, quit smoking, get fit, or do anything differently, it takes a lot of effort and persistence before we can claim success. Anyone who tells you it only takes 30 days to acquire a new habit doesn’t know human nature.
Most people who’ve been successful at making major lifestyle changes report that it rarely comes as steadily upward progress. Instead, it’s often two steps forward and one back, with intermittent relapses, surges of resolve, and a lot of learning along the way.
One has only to look at the obesity problem in the US and other affluent countries to see how hard it is to make behavioral changes that stick. Despite growing evidence that being overweight contributes to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and premature aging, people struggle to lose weight, start exercising, and eat healthy. The obesity rates aren’t getting better, they’re getting worse.
And yet we know more about how to make or break habits than ever before. Behavioral scientists have conducted extensive research into how people make lasting changes. Why aren’t more people successful?
Knowing Isn’t Enough
“If you want to make a change you need to know why you’re making the change―but for that change to really last you need more than knowledge. When it comes to change, our minds don’t work rationally.” ~ The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr. Elissa Epel, Grand Central Publishing, 2017
We humans have far less personal control than we like to think we have. We largely go about our days operating out of automatic patterns and impulses. When we decide to change our routines, some of us are more accomplished than others. Here is what successful change experts suggest we do.
First, identify a change you’d like to make. Identify one area you’d like to improve, such as health. Before you commit, ask yourself three questions.
The brain is equipped for automaticity and economizing efforts. The way to make that work in your favor is to include brain-friendly action steps.
It’s not rocket science; making changes stick isn’t complicated. Make sure you set meaningful goals, and create a pathway to success. Expect obstacles and distractions. What are you waiting for? Those who succeed are those who get support from others, are willing to delay gratification, and persist. As an executive master certified coach, I assist you with to make long lasting changes in any areas of your life that challenge you the most.
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I am also available for a consultation until July 30th. Please call me today at (949) 721-5732 to schedule a 30 minute complementary session.
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