Complete article: 10 minute read
Listen to an audio conversation about this article here with Lesli Doares – Couples Consultant and Coach.
We all know someone who’s hit “rock bottom”.
Even celebrities who seemed to “have it all” are not immune: Brad Pitt, Robert Downey Jr., Hugh Grant, Mickey Rourke, Ben Affleck, Michael Vick, Lawrence Taylor. The list goes on…
Why did they wait so long to figure out there was a problem?
Here are five reasons we often wait for a crisis before deciding to change:
- We are creatures of habit. We are hard-wired for habitual behavior. Our brains create neural pathways as we repeat behaviors until they become sub-conscious and our default way of thinking and behaving.
- We are trained to respond to immediate gratification. We create habitual behaviors based on what gives us quick feel-good responses; shopping, pornography, gambling, sugar, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, fast food and instant messaging.
- We live in a society of busy – running to our next appointment, taking the kids to their activities, working overtime, we run on adrenaline and stress – who has time to think long-term?
- The “devil we know” is often more acceptable than the one we don’t. What we know gives us a sense of comfort, reliability and stability.
- We don’t like taking risks. Change can be risky, is unknown, takes effort, time and maybe some money, so we delay/avoid for as long as possible.
And these are the results.
We ignore warning signs, and against our better judgment, we continue doing things we’ve always done, we settle, even when we know what we’re doing is harmful or unhelpful. “Nah, it will never happen to me… I’m okay, really…”
Or we decide to change but never really go all in – how many New Year’s resolutions were busts after only a month or two?
Often a crisis is what spurs us to change – we are unwilling to contemplate changing our unhealthy behaviors until we get a stiff dose of negative motivation where the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change.
Too often we can’t find a way to make a change last even when a behavior isn’t healthy for us – because we have a habit of reverting to old habits.
Old habits are powerful. Our sub-conscious is trained to use those default patterns of behaviour. If we aren’t determined to be in it for the long haul, we lose our motivation, minimize the memory of past pain, and end up repeating the cycle.
We doubt our ability to change. We talk ourselves back into our old way of being: “I’m too old. I can’t change. It’s too hard. I’ve tried. It wasn’t so bad. I’ll do better this time. I’ll start tomorrow. Someday…” We’re great at telling ourselves stories that reinforce the “old-faithful” behaviors.
Those closest to us often want us to stay as we are, or the opposite – tell us what we should do differently. We either capitulate or we get our backs up and say “I’ll show you” – ether can influence us to return to our old ways.
There are those who do manage to successfully implement long-term change after a crisis, or who change without a crisis. So how do they do it?
Usually it’s a case of hard-core determination that is based on short-term motivation – focusing on the pain of staying the same, the “kick-in-the-ass” – that drives them forward.
However, successful change based solely on short-term, pain-based motivation is effective for only a small number of people.
A method for successful change that works for most people is long-term focused and involves four parts.
- Personal determination to change. We must be determined and committed to making the change, for us, or it won’t last.
- Leverage short-term pain-based motivation. Motivation based on the pain of staying the same is extremely powerful early in the change process and as a reminder when we need it to stay on track.
- Create a vision of long-term inspiring outcomes. We need inspiration to change, to understand the long-term benefits to the change – a vision. What goals, dreams or possibilities will be available to us? How could our life be better one, two, five, ten years in the future?
- We need to fully understand and accept the consequences of our choice – both short and long-term consequences.
In order for successful change, the long-term benefits of the change must outweigh both the short-term pain of the change and the long-term consequences of staying the same.
We don’t need a crisis before deciding to change, but we often do because we’ve never been taught a method to make a choice in a positive, logical and proactive manner.
There is an easy to use and powerful method to build motivation and inspiration for successful change, one that will give clarity and confidence to your decision.
It’s called a Choice Comparison.
I have used this method to make empowering life-changing choices that have improved my health and quality of life.
Once complete, you can revisit your decision at any time to use the short-term pain of motivation – kick-in-the-ass – or the long-term inspiration to keep you on track.
Ultimately your decision will come down to choosing between:
- Staying the same – long-term pain for short-term gain OR
- Changing – short-term pain for long-term gain.
Get control of your life. Be empowered with your choices instead of waiting to feel you have no choice.
Be proactive instead of reactive.
You don’t have to wait to for a crisis to make a change.
Click here to get FREE access to a comprehensive version of the Choice Comparison tool – includes a video example.
Make better choices. Create a better life.
I write to inspire others to greater self-empowerment, authenticity, and improved emotional and mental well-being.
I am the author of the unique personal development novel The Shift Squad.
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Be Empowered. Make Authentic Choices And Enhance Your Quality Of Life.