By now you’ve heard the expression the one thing we can count on is change. A cliché, but true.
Why is it so hard for many of us to make long-lasting, behavioral changes even when we want to? Here’s why:
1. There’s pain in change. No matter how much we desire a new outcome, change takes us out of our comfort zone.
2. Our brains are wired for repetition. Studies show that up to 45% of what we do every day is habitual, forming strong neural pathways which help us conserve energy and resources. Without constant vigilance, it’s too easy to default to old patterns.
3. Permanent change doesn’t happen overnight. Most of us want instant gratification and fast results and give up long before achieving positive outcomes.
So, given these obstacles, how do you stack the odds in your favor?
Face the truth. Rather than hide behind our comfortable discomfort, go within and make a compelling case for why you need to move out of your current state. Grab a sheet of paper; draw a line down the middle, and at the top of each column write “Pains” and “Gains.” What is it costing you (pains) emotionally, physically and spiritually to remain here? How is fear playing a role? Who else is paying a price for your lack of follow-through? How would life be different if you achieved your desired goals (gains)? What would it feel like to own this change? Develop a strong desire to participate and support the change by re-reading these pains/gains every morning and every evening.
Rewire. Choose to take action daily in some form or fashion to reinforce new behaviors.
Replace. Rather than eliminate a habit or behavior, learn to replace it with another for best results. For example, if you always find yourself blurting out “yes” to your supervisor’s last-minute requests and finding yourself overwhelmed, substitute the phrase, “give me just a minute to take a look at our current commitments and calendar to determine time frames.”
Enlist support. Individuals who are most successful at change have others on their team to inspire and hold them accountable.
Should you find yourself back into old habits, remember every day is the perfect day to begin again.