Say you’ve come to a point in life where you realize that a major change is needed. You’re tired of the way things are, and you want things to be different.
Maybe you’ve been right here before and things didn’t work out so well last time. Most of the time when someone is actually fed up enough to try to initiate real change they want big change, and they want it right now!
What usually occurs is that you make a big time resolution, you draw yourself a line in the sand. You go for the huge change all at once.
All or nothing right?
The common perception and belief is that to make a worthwhile change in your life you must make a huge resolution and a “big” change. A complete 180 degree shift.
It feels good and symbolic to get fed up and make a huge stand, to say “enough! I’m going to change drastically starting tomorrow!”.
You’ve heard some of these before from friends and you’ve no doubt made some similar declarations yourself.
This often takes the form of a “New Years Resolution”. Or the familiar “I want to lose weight, so starting Monday I will only eat 1200 calories of perfectly healthy food per day no exceptions ever!”
Huge changes all at once almost always backfire
The problem with the all or nothing approach is that you almost always end up with nothing in the end. What’s worse is you’ll also have less confidence going into your next attempt to change or grow.
It’s exceedingly hard to totally change yourself overnight just on determination alone. When you hear of someone really changing it all in a flash and it sticks, they usually had some major unavoidable life shakeup or tragedy that forced it.
When you attempt to make a huge change in yourself or your life all at once it may seem like only “one thing” to change but in reality you’ll be trying to change lots and lots of little “things”.
Everything in a persons world is connected and interlaced so your “one big change” will really mean the breaking and forming of lots of little habits and preferences in areas of your life that you probably can’t even imagine when you first set out.
Huge resolutions hit big internal resistance
When you go for the big sudden change you’re going to be facing a very formidable foe set on making you fail miserably. Your own mind!
Whether you are aware of it not, your mind wants you to stay the same, deep down it hates change, and the bigger the change the more it hates it. This is because your mind always thinks you are RIGHT the way you are.
Acknowledging a change is needed is like saying you are WRONG the way you are. Your mind will fight that.
The bigger the change you go for the more it’s like telling your mind that you yourself are wrong. This means that the bigger the change, the more your mind will fight it. You want huge change? You’re in for a huge fight!
Small changes have a much better chance of success
We just looked at how a huge change will gear your mind up to fight all of your efforts, so what to do? Let’s see.
Your very decision to change is offensive to your own mind! If you seeking a big change equates to your mind being seriously offended, then you can expect a big fight that will certainly outlast your willpower.
The bigger the change you seek, the more the offended your mind is and the stronger the fight from it. You can’t get around this or making those huge resolutions would always just work and you wouldn’t be reading this right now!
Knowing this, I think you should choose to make a small change and see what happens! Try to make a change that will be helpful, but so small your mind will barely put up a fight at all.
How to slip one by your mind
In our above mentioned “I want to lose weight” example the “huge resolution” was “starting Monday I will only eat 1200 calories of perfectly healthy food per day no exceptions ever!”.
Since you’ve probably been eating pretty bad, your mind will take this resolution as a big offense and within a week or two you’ll probably fail totally, thus rendering the whole effort useless.
You may actually binge so much when this falls apart it will leave you worse off than when you started!
Say instead you look at the end goal (to lose weight) and break it down into “non offensive chunks” and you start slow so as to not upset your easily offended mind.
You decide to cut out sodas only. You love them, and you know going to water only would be a shock, so you decide to substitute your sodas with tea with a small amount of sweetener.
This act barely registers with your mind, heck you’re still eating exactly the same. The drink is a bit different but not real tough to take. This change, small as it is sticks! Now it’s been a month and you’ve lost a pound.
You are now better off than if you’d gotten all upset, drawn a line in the sand and made a huge resolution! NOW you’ve made a small change, a tweak, you’ve stuck with it, and grown in confidence due to it actually working. You’ve also lost a bit of weight, and you’re still on track, so the change will continue to have lasting effects.
A few small changes can have more impact than one huge one, especially if the huge one has none
Say a couple weeks later you decide to reduce your normal dessert by half. You still have it, but you only eat half your normal portion. This too slips by your mind and in a month becomes habit. It sticks. Your weight is down a bit more.
With success in these two small efforts you are well on your way to the overall goal of losing weight! At the same time your confidence is rising.
With the “huge resolution” method you not only failed but you ended up worse off because you “really tried super hard” and you got bad results, so your confidence is down.
Breaking it all down
Going forward when you want to make life changes, think of the big picture, the end goal. Break the goal down into smaller “less offensive” moves, and slowly execute them.
Try to choose the least offensive move that will have the most impact in the long term. That’s the sweet spot. As you become better and better at this, you’ll master choosing just the right non offending yet difference making moves to get you to your goals easily.
Give it a go!
Consider the implications of making a couple of small easy changes right now and see how it works for you! Think back to the last huge resolution you failed at and use this logic to break it down.
Choose your first move and give yourself plenty of time and go slow. I believe that if you use this method of change you’ll find you have much more success with your life goals, with the bonus of it taking less effort.
Let me know how it goes….