Whenever we try and change something about ourselves – quit smoking, lose weight, getting in shape, overcome our fear of public speaking – we invariably begin the journey of change by placing all of our focus on the new behaviours we believe will bring us the outcome we are striving for.
And, as so many of us have learned through repeated attempts, this method does not work.
It is interesting when our TV watching is interrupted by commercials and all of the big name weight loss organizations take over the screen to inform us of how they can help us realize our dreams by making our extra pounds disappear into the annals of history.
These commercials are all the same. They trot out their success stories and parade them in front of the cameras for all to see. “This is Jeff. He lost 106 pounds eating delicious meals.” “This is Belinda. Belinda lost 92 pounds following our cutting-edge, revolutionary new program.”
I have no doubt that Jeff and Belinda are real people and all the commercials for the weight loss organizations have their own Jeff’s and Belinda’s proudly showing off their new bodies.
Here’s an interesting question: why are they not showing us are Jeff and Belinda from five, six or 10 years ago? My guess would be because Jeff and Belinda, like the 97% of people who do achieve large weight loss, will have regained every ounce – usually with a bonus – well before the five-year anniversary of their accomplishment.
Changing behaviours does not lead to sustainable, long-term habits.
Let me repeat that – changing behaviours alone will not lead to sustainable, long-term habits.
There is an established pattern that must take place if we are to have any hope of ever establishing new habits. Behaviours are the very last step in the process, not the first.
New habits begin first and foremost with the choices we make. And the choice we must make is to create a new belief about who we are, what we are and what we do repeatedly.
A belief can take many forms: it may be a long-held viewpoint of something we believe to be true, it may be a short-term viewpoint of something we believe to be true or it may be a thought that occupies our awareness in the moment. The beliefs we hold profoundly influence our feelings, and it is our feelings – our emotions – that drive our actions or behaviours.
What this means is that if we are sincere in desiring new long-term, sustainable habits for ourselves, then rather than focusing on the behaviours necessary for those habits, we must first choose the belief(s) that will help us experience the emotions necessary to repeatedly choose the behaviours we wish to become part of our long-term being.
Almost all of the work I do as a Habits Coach is focused on helping my clients develop the habits that will take them from where they are to where they want to be.
If I am working with a salesperson who wishes to increase their sales, we do not even talk about the behaviours and practices needed to achieve this goal. Rather, our early time is spent building the story (a belief) that validates who that person wishes to become and then learning how to create the emotions that will drive and sustain the requisite successful selling behaviours.
Similarly, when a client wishes to lose weight our immediate focus is not on nutrition or exercise. It is intensely focusing on who or what that person believes to be true of themselves, how they see themselves and how they feel about themselves.
Sometimes we don’t even discuss weight loss until the third, fourth, fifth, even sixth session or, third or fourth month into the process.
I know this is contrary to traditional thinking. The conventional wisdom encourages so many people to go down the pathway to despair by embracing the huge high that always accompanies great accomplishment, only to have that experience change to an overwhelming sense of failure and disappointment when the non-sustainability of their accomplishment returns them to their original starting point.
In the same way that habits don’t die easily, we don’t acquire good ones without serious intent and dedicated effort.
My job – one I have become exceptionally good at – is working with clients to achieve just that.
And if it’s true that our habits do indeed ultimately determine our destiny and shape the results in our lives, then investing wisely to develop the capacity to ensure you are living as purposeful and sculpted life as possible ought to be everyone’s number one priority.
Call me – I can help you achieve this and so much more.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.