If you were given the choice “change your behaviour or die”, would you change?
Naturally the majority of people would say “yes”, but would you? Of the people that have serious heart bypass surgery every year, in around half of cases the bypass grafts have clogged up again within 5 years. Many of these people could have avoided a return of their heart problems and further surgery by switching to a healthier lifestyle. Even after this massively invasive and expensive surgery, 90% of people do not change their lifestyle.
Most people are very reluctant to change even though they know they should. You would think severe heart disease would be a critical enough trigger to make people change, but in fact, this rarely lasts longer than a few weeks. Even when people are given factual reasons why they should change, it is not enough.
The only real way to get people to change is to work with people’s feelings. It is much easier to get someone to move towards something they want than it is to get them to move away from something they don’t want.
If you want to lose weight, and visualize or repeat to yourself “I don’t want to be fat anymore”, what your brain will pick up and concentrate on is the picture of you being fat. However, if you concentrate on the positive image of I want to be thin it will be much more effective. It is easier to move towards being thin than it is to move away from being fat. Joy and pleasure are much more powerful motivators than pain and fear.
How people think is formed into the synapses of the brain over a period of time. Each time we have an experience it enters the brain, often as an emotion, and if the brain can’t find some way of relating to it, it is usually rejected as being unrealistic. Concepts are not something that can be changed just by telling someone facts; they have to feel the information.
The big challenge in getting people to change the way they think is to change the way the brain is structured or to change the way they feel about something. When people are trying to make a change and get support on a regular basis, they are more likely to persevere with the effort. This is why support groups like “Alcohols Anonymous” and “Weight Watchers “are so successful. It is the ongoing support they provide. This is why it is so critical to get someone else involved when you decide to make a change. Someone else that will support you and push you to continue with the changes you want to make. This is what coaches and mentors do.
This is also the reason of the ongoing success of the hub system. You are associating with like-minded people that are on a similar journey to you. By regularly mixing with, seeing how other people work and being encouraged by other members of the group you are more likely to experience success in your own life. It is when you are on your own that you are much less likely to be successful.
It is actually much easier to make massive positive changes than to make small incremental changes. When you make massive changes, say in your diet, you notice the difference very quickly, as you feel better and healthier, and are therefore motivated to continue with the changed habits. This would then get rewired into your brain in a positive way and become your new reality. When you only make small changes, you don’t notice the difference, so your brain doesn’t get rewired and you revert back to your old habits much more quickly.
Self-discipline means not letting your thoughts and emotions control your behaviour. It means deciding what you want to do and following through, even when the alternative would be much easier. Self-discipline means being patient and putting off what would be an easy quick fix now, for a more rewarding future.
First, you need a clear picture of what you want in the future, so you can be clear about what you need to do. People that excel in life have a clear picture of their future, based on what their values and goals are and then consistently work towards this picture, sacrificing short-term pain for long term gain.
Once you have a clear understanding of your purpose in life, based on your values and goals, you will find it much easier to have the discipline needed to follow your desired path. If you are not clear; if you are going in the right direction; ask yourself the following questions:
- Will this action take me further along my desired path towards my personal vision?
- Is this action congruent with my values and goals?
- What outcome do I want to achieve from this action?
- How will this action impact on others?
- Will this action harm others or is it a win-win situation?
- Is this a good action for me?
You can find more help to work through your values and goals in our book.
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Extract from “The Wheel of Life’s 8 Keys to Success” by John and Linda Ballis
John and Linda Ballis
Wheel of Life book
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