Enabling you to create lasting change is what MindMotions is all about, so you will see this topic coming up frequently. People spend months and years trying to create lasting change, some are successful, but the majority is not. A single blog on such a fundamental topic would not do justice and to be honest, fundamental change probably won’t be achieved through a blog. It will take deep analysis and guidance – best done through coaching or training. But if you can’t do that we still want to deliver value to you in every single blog. Not just content, but value. And we will do that by adding useful tips and a key takeaway at the end of every blog. Something that you can implement or test right away if you choose to.
Let’s look at the difference of short term and lasting change for a minute. Creating short term change can actually be done quite easily and often an emotional trigger can be enough. We see an inspiring quote, watch an exciting event, listen to an inspirational speaker and make a resolution that we will do it! Yeah right…. It normally doesn’t take long for reality to kick back in and a nice long list of why we “can’t” shows up. We like to call it justification (just feels better) and portray ourselves as victims of circumstances, but the real reasons lie a lot deeper and – sorry for the bad news – we are responsible for the inaction, not someone else or external circumstances.
But then there are these people that seem to be able to do it, these terribly “disciplined” people around us. They go to the gym, they eat well, don’t smoke, don’t drink, follow up on resolutions etc etc. We admire and sometimes hate them at the same time and often call them boring (to feel better about our own weaknesses). But deep inside we wonder how the heck they do that (their discipline doesn’t say anything about their happiness or fulfillment by the way). How are they capable of resisting the permanent temptations around us and we are not?
This takes us right to the core of why people do what they do and that is fundamental to lasting change. If you only remember one thing from this blog, remember this. People do what they do for two reasons only, to create positive emotions (joy) or to avoid pain. That’s it. And although these two are not always obvious, it does boil down to that one way or another. We don’t buy a Ferrari or a Handbag, because we want that, we buy it because we want the emotion that comes with it. And all the things we wish for are actually emotions we are seeking and hoping to find when we get what we want. Normally just to find out it didn’t work or last very long. Nest handbag necessary.
So, let’s get started on this pretty complex yet simple topic and cut it down into smaller pieces. The first piece we want to look at is what stops us from changing despite the fact that we want to. The part that wants the change is in our conscious mind and often in the rational part of it. It thinks long term and often gives advice related to that (be healthy, eat better, study etc). But then there is a very powerful counterpart, which lives in the here and now: We call it the pleasure master. He/she looks after one thing only and that is how to have as much joy as possible as quick as possible. And the bad news is that short term fun (gratification) easily beats long term rationale. And bingo, that is the core of most failed plans to improve in certain areas of our lives. The soap opera is simply more fun than the gym for many people and that snickers bar is so much better than the salad! Simple, no? Yes. But what’s not so simple is how to change that.
But there is a second category of reasons why we do or don’t do things. And that is even more powerful than the pleasure master. Fears. They are so powerful and smart that they may drive large parts of our lives and we don’t even notice it. Fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection and so on. And although they can be very disempowering, they always have good intentions – to protect us.
To create lasting change, we need to understand our underlying drivers, which are often not what we think they are and hidden in our subconscious mind or behind limiting beliefs. Short term gratification (joy) easily beats long term benefits (rational) on one hand. On the other hand, fears can be at the steering wheel and we don’t even know it. Both need to part of our strategy to create lasting change and the key is to have tools that will put you at the steering wheel. Stay tuned for part 2, coming soon.
Write down the areas where you tried to change and were not successful. Then list the justifications you had not to do it. Have a very close look at those, were they the real reasons? What deep inside of you (not in the external world) were the reasons. What fears could be behind the inaction? Do those fears show up in other areas of your life and limit your behavior?