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Eight Reasons Why It's So Hard To Really Change Your Behavior

Try Too Much

Trying to take on multiple behaviors at once is a surefire way to send all of them into a ditch. The resources we rely on to make change happen are limited: attention, self-control, motivation, etc.

But other areas of our lives also use those resources, so even just one additional behavior-change commitment is a big deal. Trying to change too much places unrealistic demands on those resources and dooms the efforts early on.

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Eight Reasons Why It's So Hard To Really Change Your Behavior

Eight Reasons Why It's So Hard To Really Change Your Behavior

https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2017/05/28/eight-reasons-why-its-so-hard-to-really-change-your-behavior/

forbes.com

8

Key Ideas

Motivated By Positive Emotions

Negative emotions may trigger us to think about everything we’re not doing, or feel like we’re doing wrong, but they're ineffective for making changes that stick. Real change needs a positive platform to launch from; we need positive, self-edifying reasons for taking on the challenge.

Trapped By Thinking Fallacies

Feeling overwhelmed by trying to change a behavior often makes us charge into change, and see failure as a sign of incapacity. But this straps us into a no-win situation because you are unlikely to sustain the initial momentum to change for long.

If we really want to change, one of the first things we have to do is take all-or-nothing off the table, and purge a few other thinking errors while we’re at it.

More Than We Can Handle

It’s almost never possible to tackle all of a change at once. We have to start with particular, very specific and measurable actions.

Each specific action is one forkful of behavior change and a set of those actions engaged over time results in a cumulative change. And accompanying those cumulative actions, we need realistic and specific goals as they provide targets to measure ourselves against.

Neglecting The Tools

We must be somewhat knowledgeable about what we need to change in order to come up with and set up a practical plan that will lead to sustained change. Some of the knowledge and tools necessary will be specific to us, others universal, but without putting the effort we won’t find either.

Try Too Much

Trying to take on multiple behaviors at once is a surefire way to send all of them into a ditch. The resources we rely on to make change happen are limited: attention, self-control, motivation, etc.

But other areas of our lives also use those resources, so even just one additional behavior-change commitment is a big deal. Trying to change too much places unrealistic demands on those resources and dooms the efforts early on.

Underestimating The Process

Change is never just one thing, it’s a lot of connected things, and sustained change doesn’t happen without a process that wraps in all of the pieces.

Long-term behavior change involves steps. It’s a tough, process-oriented challenge to slowly change the behavior and believing otherwise demotivates.

Failure Is Common

Failing is part of the process, and it’s probably going to happen more than once. Failing reveals to you what deserves your attention and energy in the next round.

See failing as a step, not the end or an excuse to stop trying.

Making Commitments

Behavior change research tells us that not making a commitment leads to failure.

We need a "commitment device" that firmly establishes what we're going to do and how we're going to do it. Everything else starts there.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The Dynamics of a Resolution

We all have goals to achieve and behavioral changes we want to implement. Making the resolution is the easy part. The implementation and the work that is to be put in daily is the real challenge.

Why Resolutions Fail
  • Getting motivated by negative emotions like fear or regret.
  • A sudden influx of motivation followed by giving up in the first instance of a setback ("All or Nothing" approach).
  • Having a big and unattainable resolution.
  • Not being in terms with the concept of failure.
  • Not committing fully to the process.
Social Pressure

New research suggests we are less prone to keep working on our goals after we publicize them. This is because we may end up talking about our goals and celebrating our success prematurely rather than implementing them.

Social Pressure makes us fearful, as we can feel afraid of appearing inept. This negative mindset does not work well where we need daily work.

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Pre-Contemplation

In this stage of change, individuals are aware of the behavioral change they desire; however, they have no conscious intention of altering their behavior. They may be strongly influence...

Contemplation

In this stage of change, an individual acknowledges the problem and begins an internal debate about pursuing change. A lot of time may be spent in this stage as many may not be ready to commit to changing.

People often get stuck in this stage going back and forth between measuring the benefits and costs of behavioral change. A thorough cost-benefit analysis followed by a troubleshooting session can be helpful here, especially if it is done in written form.

Preparation

In this stage of change, individuals commit to the intention of changing in the immediate future and have accepted the costs and benefits. What determines the success of an individual in this stage is their commitment to exploring, planning and insuring.

Set up contracts with yourself, by setting specific measurable goals, and detailing how you will accomplish the task at hand, including contingencies in order to stay on track. 

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Leo Tolstoy

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Leo Tolstoy
About change

Organizations don’t change. People change. Many companies move to change systems and structures and create new policies and processes but fail to address the underlying mind-sets and capabilities of the people who will execute it.

A new strategy will fall short of its potential if they fail to address the mental attitude because people on the ground tend to continue to behave as they did before.

Looking both ways

Companies that only look outward in the process of organizational change, and dismiss individual learning and adaptation make two common mistakes:

  • They focus solely on business outcomes and fail to appreciate that people will have to adapt to implement it.
  • They focus too much on developing skills. 

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