How to Change Habits Positively and Powerfully
How do you change habits positively? Lately, this has been on my mind. I hear so many people, and so many professionals, talk about their desire for personal change- change within themselves and change outside of themselves. (Controllable change & uncontrollable change) It seems uncomfortable-almost wrong-to settle for anything in its current state. So, if we’re that uncomfortable with being where we’re at, what keeps us from moving in the direction we hope to head?
Why We Fail Trying to Change Habits
Are you ready for the answer?
We don’t commit to changing because no matter how uncomfortable we are with the idea of where we’re at – the reality is that we are rather comfortable when compared to the alternative. We don’t really want to stay where we are, and in fact, we blame our habits for keeping us there. But, when push comes to shove, it’s more comfortable to stay and less comfortable to leave our habits.
The situation looks like this: comfort of staying in current status > comfort of moving into mystery.
Until we become uncomfortable with what our comfort zone is costing us, we will not change a habit. We can’t predict how things will feel once we achieve the change we desire, so at the end of the day, we choose familiarity over the unknown. And any change, inevitably, has a level of ambiguity to it. So, how important is change to us? Start with this, significant change is not impossible.
A Vision for Change without Fear
Well, I’m here to tell you that your vision for how things can be, ought to be, should be – CAN become the reality. If you have a vision, that is step #1 to moving in the right direction to change habits. In fact, there are two ways you can look at this. Most of the time, if we are seeking to change something, we are either running FROM something [something we don’t want to be, something we’re afraid of becoming, something someone else has told us to fear, or anything that makes us feel just a wee bit anxious], or we are running TOWARD something different [something good, something positive, a better way of life, a new way of thinking].
If you run FROM something- it’s typically some level of fear that is driving you forward. If you run TO something else- it takes courage, hope and a vision to keep you moving forward. It’s up to you which of the two motivations is your motive for moving.
Now, in whatever direction you head, for whatever reason you choose – it is inevitable that you will encounter some resistance. But here’s the catch: if you are running to something that you believe in – it’s much more likely that you will see the value in overcoming the resistance. On the reverse, if you are running from something that you fear- ultimately, your decision to keep going will depend on what is scarier: the resistance you face or what you’re running from? Without this thinking process action steps to change fail because there is no emotional commitment.
A Formula for Changing Habits: D x V x F > R
To illustrate how these points can be put together, here’s a formula that models this process beautifully. Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher created The Formula for Change, which was later refined by Kathie Dannemiller and called Gleicher’s Formula. This equation helps to explain the process.
Research shows that at least 40% of our daily activities-everyday-are always the same in similar situations because of our habits. Three factors must be present for meaningful personal change to take place:
D = Dissatisfaction with how things are now
V = Vision of what is possible
F = First, concrete steps that can be taken towards the vision
If the product of these three factors is greater than R [resistance] – then the chances there will be change – are high. If the product of these three factors is less than the amount of resistance that’s present – the likelihood for change – is low. So, if you’re hoping to head in the direction of your dreams… there are a few simple things that you can do to help set the stage for success:
1) Understand what you want to change & why you want to change it.
2) Envision what it would be like if you made this change. Think it, feel it, and picture it.
3) Make a list of steps (just a few for starters) that would help you get where you want to go. Having a few reasonable ‘action steps’ in mind can make the prospect of change less overwhelming.
Pulling It All Together
Studies show it takes 15-254 days to establish a change a habit and create a new one. So, follow three steps above, and get additional support to stay persistent. Consider these approaches: personal coach, a mentor, training, written goals, meditation, exercise, and the like. Viktor Frankl, author of a Man’s Search for Meaning, said it powerfully, “When we are no longer able to change the situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Also, go here for proven methods for developing and changing habits related to success, see our complimentary inventory and action planning guide: Success Practices.
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