Change is inevitable; successful change is not.
Have you ever set a goal, made a New Year’s resolution, or tried to change some area of your life that didn’t work out so well? Or maybe you hit the goal, but couldn’t sustain the end result. Want to know why?
Research shows change is hard.
Most people don’t like change. It’s uncomfortable to make and unwelcomed when it arrives even when the results promise to be better for them.
Although the new outcome might be your own personal desire and decision, statistics indicate most change initiatives don’t last. Personally, professionally, or organizationally, people fail dismally at sustaining the change outcomes they’re trying to make.
One reason change is so hard and unsustainable is most people go about creating change incorrectly. You do so in one of two ways:
The first is to muster all your conscious strength, perseverance, and willpower to “just do it.” Essentially, you push yourself to a greater level of discipline and determination to get the results you want. That often means having to forgo the other pleasures, habits, or routines of your life in order to stay properly focused and committed to the rigors necessary for goal achievement. Sounds like a pretty effective way to reach your goals, doesn’t it?
Actually, it’s not. Anytime you push yourself (or others) to change, you’re using a form of coercive motivation. In other words, you’re telling yourself – consciously or subconsciously – “I have to [fill in the blank]:
- I have to get to the gym today.
- We have to get the report finished.
- I should clean the house this weekend.
- You better get your homework done (or else…).
Better known as “muscle management” or “command and control,” this type of motivation can create movement. The problem is it’s typically not the highest quality or most creative outcomes, and it’s often met with a lot of resistance.
It doesn’t matter if I’m pushing you or you are pushing you, people have an innate defense mechanism to push back when pushed.
Subconsciously, you resist any time you feel the pressure of being forced into doing things you’d rather not do. Look at the “have to’s” and “should’s” in your own life and watch how you’ll procrastinate, give up, or do the bare minimum just to comply. Moreover, what happens when the effort of pushing stops? Do you keep going and growing? No…the momentum also stops. And research tells us the minute we stop “trying harder,” we always go back to the person we know ourselves to be.
The second way you try to motivate yourself to change is to dangle some prize at the end of your goal. Instead of pushing yourself, you use incentives to pull yourself into the results you want. So what’s wrong with a little positive reinforcement? Prizes are a great way to celebrate your success, but they do little to maintain the high level of performance or commitment necessary to keep you there.
Over the years, I’ve worked with many organizations that use contests to pull higher performance out of their people. The unintended results are often costly in terms of culture. Rather than becoming externally competitive with other organizations in the marketplace, contests create silos and internal competition that work against team building, information sharing, and collaboration toward the larger vision.
Additionally, once the prize is won, your energy, habits, and attitudes always go back to “normal.” Contests, prizes, and brides used to induce better behavior are just short-term attempts of external motivation.
Significant, sustainable change occurs when you learn how to create internal motivation by changing your beliefs, habits, attitudes, and expectations on the inside, in your subconscious mind.
Instead of pushing or pulling yourself to eat, work, play, love, talk, learn, give, participate, try, refrain, pray, relax, and so on, better than you know yourself to be, you simply change on the inside, and your behaviors and emotions naturally follow. It’s you and improved at a new level without trying harder.
Once you understand the process of being transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2), you can apply it to any area of your life any time your destiny requires an upgrade to grow into that next level.
–Source: Destiny Makers
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