Creating Lasting Change
I spend much of each day helping business owner’s change some aspect of their organization to create rapid and sustainable growth. Most days I love, love, love my job. However, I am frequently baffled by how many times people pay me good money to help them move forward, only to have them stay right where they are – stuck in the status quo.
What causes us to seek change, then reject the very advice or plan that would get us to our goals? Each year:
17 million people try to quit smoking and 92% fail.
95% of people who lose weight fail to keep it off long term
88% of people who set New Year’s resolutions fail at their attempt.
Less than 10% of the population has specific, well-defined goals. But even then, seven out of the ten of those people reach their goals only 50% of the time. That means if you have followed the #LiveRich philophosy and have a written plan to reach your goals, you have at best a 50-50 shot at reaching that goal.
Why is that? Are our plans flawed? Is our desire not strong enough? —only to find they lapsed back into their old behaviors within a short period of time? Whydo some people make changes that last long-term whereas others have a hard time getting past the initial hurdles?
This transformation and creation of lasting change begins with a commitment to constantly raise your own internal standards. It requires a continual focus on improving the quality of your life in every area: health, finances, relationships, leadership, spirituality, contribution, and time management.
Discovering the right leverage takes skill. You must understand what someone feels they really need and what you can use to ‘bargain’ with them to move toward more empowering actions. Leverage is uncovering what’s most important to a person to help them make the commitment to making a change.
One of the most important precepts about human behavior and change is that at the most basic level, there are two forces that motivate people to do what they do: the desire to avoid pain or the desire to gain pleasure. This principle is what causes the ‘yo-yo’ pattern in some people: they go back and forth between taking action to create change and losing their drive to take any action at all. Change is never a matter of ability, it’s a matter of motivation.
I do this with my diet. By Sunday night my desire to improve my health and look better in my clothes is at its weekly high. I am totally committed to having a week of healthy food, 60 minutes of high intensity activity each day and staying mindful through my daily life. Monday dawns new and fresh. My week is off to an amazing start – full of enthusiasm for my new and improved life style. The desire to avoid the pain of a feeble old age far outweighs the desire for sweets and tasty adult beverages.
Then it is Tuesday and my enthusiasm wanes just a bit after a long day and even longer commute downtown. Wednesday is hump day, just make it through and I am home free. Then there is the Thursday pre-weekend thinking. After 90 minutes of traffic to get home, the pleasure of my old behavior is overtaking the desire to avoid the pain of old age. By Friday all bets are off and old Cindy is back in charge.
However, how many of us know people who have created lasting change? Finally lost that weight, got out of a toxic relationship, went back to school, quit their job and went out on their own? Virtually all of these people had lasting motivation. A health scare, fear for their safety, a reality check on what tomorrow will look like if we just continue today – over and over. To ensure that change is lasting, the commitment has to be overwhelming. It has to overcome the forces of inertia that hold our old behaviors and beliefs in place. If change is a “should,” will people change? No. Change has to be not a should, but a MUST.
This is just the starting point. When you think about how hard it is to make changes in your life, you may be tempted to give up before you even start. It’s easier to coast through a good enough life. Everywhere you look, another person or situation trying to convince you a mediocre life is perfectly fine.
Society has conditioned us against stepping out and claiming the kind of life we want to live. Life is short and time can never be recovered. Each moment is precious and should be lived to the fullest.
Now that you have identified your pain and pleasure triggers, here are five ways to create lasting change that leads to an amazing life.
Start with the inner work. Real change starts within each of us. There are struggles and self-limiting beliefs that we have to battle before we can move forward. Take some time for a self-examination of where you are and where you want to be. Address that little voice in your head that gets uncomfortable at the thought of stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Be honest with yourself. For the inner work to manifest, it starts with honesty. It’s too easy to lie — especially to ourselves. Real change starts with getting honest about the things that have held you back in the past, and what scares you about the future. Change lasts when you get honest and stay honest. You will have setbacks, and the honesty helps you keep from covering up what will help you.
Focus on one step at a time. When you look at the big picture, it’s easy to get discouraged at everything that needs to happen to create change. If you want to lose 50 pounds, it seems daunting. If you want to leave a job you hate, you get 100 thoughts of all that needs to happen. The best way to approach lasting change is to focus on your next steps. Don’t look at the big pictures. Instead, break this down into bite size goals that you work on every day.
Form habits. Lasting change is most successful when you focus on creating habits. Habits are making lifestyle shifts versus quick wins. You incorporate the changes you want to make into your daily routine. You focus on changing how you think about the things you want to change, which affects the actions you take.
Stay accountable. Having support in your life can be the difference between success and failure. As much as we want to try this alone, having someone to get honest with you or hold your hand when you stumble, is crucial. It can be family, friends, or a support group, but stay accountable to avoid giving into excuses.
I realize this is all easier said than done, but I hope you realize how important this is. The death of my husband was my wake up call. It was a catalyst to free me from a period in my life that could best be described as existing. Today, I’m truly living and loving life.
I don’t know what your dream life looks like. I only know you can and should do something about it. You can make your dream a reality, and it starts with creating lasting change in your life. Use these five ways to claim the life you truly deserve!
What big changes are you making in your life?
Are you where you want to be in your relationship? Career? Health? Financial independence? Spiritually connected?
If the answer to all of these is not a resounding yes then let’s take the following steps:
To create lasting change you must associate massive PAIN to not changing NOW, and massive PLEASURE to changing immediately. The motivation is based on both pain AND pleasure. Pain is short-term motivation, but you need the pleasure side for long-term motivation.
The truth is everyone in life has developed different strategies or patterns for getting out of pain and into pleasure. Thus, if we want to create permanent and consistent change, what we must do is develop a new set of patterns of how to get out of pain and into pleasure. In other words, in order to create lasting change, we must use pain to get people’s attention and motivate them to want to make the change, but then we must link pleasure to the new pattern to make it last.
You want to begin looking for leverage by learning more about your motives and meaning in terms of the challenge. Leverage is created by asking questions and watching physiology for cues—look for large and small clues.
Listen and watch for what’s most important to you. What are your beliefs about life? What is something that motivates you toward pleasure and away from pain? Let’s learn how you make decisions and what’s most important in your world.
Ask 3 kinds of questions:
1. Pain-associating questions:
“What will this cost you?”
“What has it cost you in the past?”
“What is it costing the people you love?”
“What is it costing you in (vehicle—work, family, etc.)?”
2. Questions that demonstrate inconsistency with what’s important to you
“How does smoking keep you from being close to your family?”
“Is a leader of people so undisciplined as to need to sneak off to grab a cigarette?”
“How can smoking make you feel good when you tell me that your company hasn’t promoted you because you smoke?”
3. Pleasure-associating questions:
“If you change this now, how will your life be?”
“What will you gain?”
“What will it mean for the people you love?”
“What will it give you?”
Ask questions to make sure they are emotionally associated to the massive, immediate pain of not changing, and the massive, immediate pleasure of changing now. If the commitment is not clear, go back to steps 1 and 2. Make sure you are using what’s more important to them and not you.
Once you understand and master these 3 simple steps of accessing leverage to create change you can use it in either your own life or to help some one you know change in an area that matters most.
This week - let’s look at what motivates us – let’s ask the hard questions – let’s kick the status quo in the behind and make our lives rock!
Until next week,
May 21, 2018
Join me every Wednesday on my podcast “Unlocking the Secret to Living Rich”.
If you have questions or comments you can contact me at my email firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @cindybbrown777
Who is Cindy B. Brown? Cindy is a CPA, MBA, CFO, mastermind facilitator and board member of public and private companies, business consultant, entrepreneur coach and a foremost expert in the field of business mastery. Cindy’s purpose is to motivate, educate and inspire people to live their richest life. She is the host of “Unlocking the Secret to Living Rich”