Everyone wants to improve – in some way, at some point.
I want to lose weight.
I want to speak better.
I want to meet more people.
In order to improve, oftentimes you need to change your current behavior. It may seem difficult. You might ask, “Can I change my behavior?” The good news is you can change their behavior. It is simple. However, are you willing to change your behavior?
PROBLEM #1: Nothing is better than something.
If I offered you free money, would you take it? Surprisingly, under certain circumstances, most people won’t.
In his TED Talk, Dan Ariely describes the following scenario: a pharmacy offered people the option to get the same medicine for less money. The individuals simply needed to send a letter to opt in. Every 90 days, same drugs, less money. The pharmacy even offered FREE medicine for a year. How much of them took the offer? Less than 10%. Maybe filling out the document requires some effort. Maybe there is skepticism of “too good to be true”. Maybe they had too much money. Over 90% (?!) of people did nothing. The conclusion is the difference between doing something and doing nothing is very high.
PROBLEM #2: Habits form both ways.
If you are not starting a new habit, you are reinforcing an old one.
I could practice on Duolingo now… but it’s too easy… I will do it later.
Every step you don’t take forward is not the same as standing still. Oftentimes, you are taking a step back. And that is one more step you will have to take later. And another. And another. And another.
I need to go on a diet… but that cake looks so delicious… I will start tomorrow.
It may just seem like you just delaying the diet one day, but you are building the habit of NOT dieting. You are fighting the inertia of months and months (maybe years!) of not dieting.
I could go to that meetup today… but it’s a little far… I will go next time.
It may seem like you are just putting off something small, but not taking action, not being proactive, not being willing in general can become a habit. You can change your behavior. You have the power to change. You have the ability to change. You can build new habits, but you have to be willing. You need to exercise your will.
What can be done?
I know it’s easy to say, but hard to do. I struggle with starting and maintaining habits all the time. I need to be reminded. I need to be supported. It’s not a perfect line. Stumbles will happen. Regressions will happen. In the end, the more you exercise your will, the easier it becomes.