What one change could you make that would radically transform your life?
If you are are honest with yourself, and if you possess some level of self-awareness, you likely have identified a number of things you would like to change about yourself. Maybe it’s a part of your personality or temperament you wish was different. It might be some bad habit that you haven’t been able to shake that you desperately want to overcome. Perhaps it is a certain relationship pattern that sabotages your friendships.
The idea is to consistently work at self improvement by tackling the bad habits and patterns that hinder our effectiveness.
Here are some reasons why people don’t change, or find it difficult to change:
1) What we see in other people is very obvious because we can observe it objectively. This perspective is huge. Understanding that what we see is not as obvious to them is vital. Communicating our perception in a fair manner is the first step.
2) We have all been “programmed”. A lot of our emotional habits are formed in early childhood. It took us a long time to perfect these habits, so to just “change them” permanently is not always easy. If you have ever tried to quit a bad habit like smoking or eating sweets , you’ll know that at first it is really hard to just stop. Emotional habits are even more difficult because they are not as obvious. Self-awareness is the key.
3) Sometimes people are aware of their annoying habit or behavior but still don’t change. This happens when the “payoff” for staying the same is higher than benefit of changing.
Think about the person who is notoriously late. What kind of payoff can someone get from being late all the time? Here are a few payoffs that may be keeping them stuck. “I can get a lot more things done during the time I could be early or on time”. “I feel in control”. “Being late is fashionable, I wouldn’t want to appear over anxious or too eager”. “If I’m early I may have to wait for someone else”. Although these payoffs are double standards they are often overwhelming.
The obvious positive payoffs that we may perceive, like “appearing more professional”, “improved relationships” and “reduced stress levels” is what we really should tell ourselves.
So what can you do? Here are some tips to making lasting changes:
1. Change yourself first but state your needs clearly and respectfully. You can only change yourself. This may include letting others know that your needs are not being met and telling them what you require from them. You can say something like, “I have to let you know that when you are late I feel disrespected. My time is important too. In the future, I require that you be on-time or let me know in advance that you’ll be late. Is that something you can do?”
2. Get some perspective. Self-awareness is the key to change. You can’t change what you can’t see. If you require a new perspective on yourself take a look at your life and see what’s not working for you. Then, with the help of some objective and truthful friends, ask them what they think you’re doing to create this situation.
3. Uncover your history to discover your current mystery. Patterns and habits can be deep. Look at your early childhood experiences. Are you a people pleaser? Why? How did this start? Are you shy and withdrawn? How did this start? Finding the root of your emotional habits will equip you to make different choices. Conscious choice is incredibly empowering.
4. Figure out the “payoff”. Leverage is needed to change a habit. There has to be a bigger reason to change than to stay the same. Looking deeper is often the key. Honestly list all the reasons why you may be unconsciously resisting change. Then list the benefits of changing. Seeing both sides of the picture is the only way to “get it”.
5. Do a 30 day challenge. Doing the same thing for 30 days will help you on your way to permanent change. Track it, journal it or create a spreadsheet. If you can get through that the rest will be a breeze.
I have friends who recently started an intense workout program called “INSANITY”. Albert Einstein‘s famous definition of insanity is: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In the beginning it was painful and grueling to implement the daily exercise routine. Change can be such an inconvenience! I believe what carried them through is teamwork. Having a partner provides both accountability and encouragement. Another success tip is finding some way to celebrate your new habit. Perhaps promise yourself a reward.
About Matt Sileno: Matt Sileno, the President/Founder of TheIntuitive Group, Inc. is no stranger to hard work and overcoming adversity. He has taken his small Sales and Marketing Firm to new heights working directly with Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies across the U.S.