Ever overhead someone talking about the newest and latest change they have made in their life? Perhaps they are eating low carb now. Or maybe they are going to be taking their dog on a walk every morning. Or working out every day of the week.
Now let me ask you how many of these people do you over hear talking about change actually stick with the new change?
Or perhaps a better question is how many of these people do you see collapse in on themselves like a dying star trying to stick with and continue the change?
My answer would have to be most of them and I am never actually surprised when it happens because the way they go about the change is all wrong.
To prevent yourself from suffering such a fate I want to share with you 10 mistakes that so many make when trying to change that inevitably lead to their downfall. This in hope that you will recognize these mistakes and correct them before it is to late.
1. Making a dramatic and drastic shift in your lifestyle.
You know that feeling you get after watching a really great movie or speech that inspires you to make a change. It is a feeling we all now well. One that tells us we are unstoppable and that nothing will get in our way of this new way of life we have decided to partake in.
You get all jazzed up to start juicing all your veggies, meditating for an hour everyday, answering emails only at lunch, only getting on Facebook 30 minutes a day, or walking with your friend after work everyday. And at this moment you feel empowered and typically it carries over for several more days as you begin this new transformation.
But yet we always find ourselves a week later crashing and burning in a fit of rage and frustration because we feel deprived, tired, and fed-up with this new change. We revert back to our old way of life and are never the better for it.
This happens because during this great wave of inspiration and motivation we decide that the best course of action is to completely alter our way of life and routines for new and unconquered ones.
The problem here is that this is to many large steps in to short of a time to manage. It is simply an unsustainable pace that inevitably leads to burnout. Changes have to take place at a rate that is manageable. The Change has to be broken down in to steps so small it is impossible to fail. Steps that build one on top of the other.
2. Believing you have to live all or nothing.
I find myself doing this one a lot. But I think many others can relate. We feel that if we decide to make a change we have to make a one hundred percent clean break from the old ways of doing things and replace them completely with the new way of doing things.
And we feel that if we cannot make this big dramatic change in one fell swoop we are not legitimately changing. We feel as if we are frauds. And nobody wants to feel like a fraud or inconsistent person so instead of trying to make the change we just stick to what we are already doing because at least in our currently life we are consistent and true, at least based on this mindset.
But this is an incorrect way of looking at change. Things in life are rarely black and white. It is okay to live in the grey when you are trying to transition from one way of doing things to other. We have to individualize the change process so that it occurs at a pace that is manageable for us and also so that this new lifestyle can be integrated properly into our lives and the lives of people who depend on us.
3. Reading way, way, way, to much.
This one is a bigee! We live in the age of information. You can get multiple answers to the same question in one quick click of a button. Usually the answers are conflicting and it takes us forever to sift through the contradiction and figure out which one we agree with or think will work best for our situation.
This is called the paralysis of analysis and we spend way to much time in it. Time that instead of being wasted could be spend actually taking action. Progressing, learning, and experiencing life.
My advice find one person who you really connect with and who knows their shit and follow their advice completely. If it works for you after a while stick with it. If it doesn't try someone else. But stop trying to source answers to your problems from seven different people.
4. Believing your rider is stronger than your elephant.
In Chip and Dan Heath's book titled Switch they use a great metaphor to describe the human beings psychology. The metaphor they use is a rider an elephant and the path. The rider representing our logical brains, the elephant our emotional brains, and the path our environment.
They explain that while humans do have the ability to logically and reasonably come to a decision as well as control their impulses this ability is a finite resource such as the strength of the rider to control the elephant. They tell us that the elephant will always when the battle of where to go and what to do at the end of the day because the Elephant is simply bigger and stronger than the rider and after the rider has exhausted himself the Elephant, or our emotional brains, will begin making all the important decisions. Which isn't such a good thing.
The problem here is that so many of us believe that our rider, or logical brain, is stronger and greater than our emotional one. We believe that we can control our impluses and desires no matter what. When in reality we cannot. Self discipline is a finite resource that eventually runs out and when it does the rider is overpowered by the elephant.
It is important for us who want to change to recognize and be cognizant of it.
5. Not shaping your path.
The other part of the Heath brother's metaphor is the path along which the elephant walks. This path directs the elephant where to go when the rider can no longer use his own strength to bend the elephant to his will. The path provides a default roadmap for the elephant.
The path represents our environment and we can shape our environment to protect us from the impulses and desires of the elephant. It is a safety mechanism to defend ourselves against our rider's limited reserve of strength.
But few of us actually spend any time shaping the environment around us to contribute to succeeding at change. Instead we go on trying to coral the elephant down a new path over the old well worn familiar path.
This will always be a mistake because our rider will always tire out, give way to the elephant, and the elephant will take us down the old familiar path.
6. Not surrounding yourself with like minded people.
Social support is a huge predictor for successful behavior change. It is one of the most overlooked resources for creating positive change. Yet it is probably the number one driving force behind negative changes. Ever head of peer pressure?
Most of us probably carry some negative connotations associated with peer pressure relating to drugs, sex, and alcohol. But peer pressure isn't necessarily a negative or positive force. Peer pressure or social support is just simply a tool for reinforcing behavior and creating accountability. It can be used for good and bad.
The mistake we make when trying to change is that we don't change the people we hang around with or make new friends that also care about our new change as well. So our old buddies continue to reinforce our old behaviors and our new changes get pointed out, berated, and shoved to the back of the priority list.
7. Trying to hold on to your old way of life.
This one really bugs me. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
It is insanity to believe that you can watch those three and a half hours of tv every night alone in the den and have a better relationship with your loved ones. It is insanity to believe you can continue eating six donuts for breakfast everyday and look like Ryan Reynolds. It is insanity to believe you can hold on to the old ways of doing things and get a different result.
Change brings in the new. You can to embrace it and let go of the old life you use to lead.
8. Not believing in the change you are trying to make.
The idea that you will do something different for a while and then revert back to the old ways after you have accomplished your goal is asinine. This shows a lack of authenticity about wanting to change. It simply says you don't believe in what you are doing as being the best way to be, but rather you see it as a means to an end.
9. Approaching your change with an an attitude of self deprivation.
This one kills a lot of my clients.
To many people believe that when they are making a change they are losing way more than they are gaining. This belief makes them feel as if they are being deprived of something that everyone else gets to enjoy.
When in fact most people stand to gain way more than lose by making a change. Stop pitying yourself and start actually believe that this change is worth it.
That it will truly leave you a better person with a better life once it is complete.
10. Walking into a donut store.
I don't think this one needs much explaining ; D!
But to reinforce an old idea remember this would be an example of shaping your path. By making sure your environment doesn't include donuts you ensure that your elephant doesn't run wild when your rider gets tired of pulling your hands away from the donuts.
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training