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What’s keeping you from reaching your goals (based on behavioural design)

The Start of Something New

We’ve all felt the buzz of something new. The fire and the passion of getting involved in something you truly believe will change your life. The motivation at this time is unmatched, and you can’t picture yourself ever quitting, but then six months pass by and you realise that new thing that was going to change your life was just a phase.

Of course, this isn’t always the case. Most people will have things they’ve stuck with for a long time. Think about your favourite thing to do and think about why you do it. I bet the answer is either because it’s easy or because you really really enjoy it.

I struggled for years with disordered eating. I would diet and binge on a cycle and there seemed to be no end. I’m at the point now where I have consistent habits that I enjoy. I eat a lot of vegetables, I do workouts that make me feel good and I find pleasure in a good night’s sleep. Whatever your problem is, I’m sure the world offers a lot of quick fixes for it from diet teas to study drugs, but it’s like giving super glue to fix a bookshelf when what’s really needed is a nail and hammer. After a while, most people get sick of buying new glue and let the damn books fall.

Red flags to look out for

  • speed - are you expecting a quick fix?

  • promising the difference is one change (that you have to buy)

  • anything using the words 'secret to'

  • common sense - does it seem too good to be true

What actually works? The psychology of positive goals

Long-term behaviour change is made up of a lot of small changes over time. It sounds obvious when I type it, but we’re bombarded with advertisements these days that make us think otherwise. Early onset motivation doesn’t last, and being miserable will only make you want to quit.

So ask yourself why you’re really doing something. If you’re doing something that feels hard, it doesn’t mean that it’s good for you. Ask yourself why you want what you want. If the answer is because you are afraid of doing something, than you will never view the replacements as enjoyable. We think we can change long term behaviour from pure motivation and grit, but the truth is you need to enjoy what you’re doing and as it forms a part of your identity over time its likely your friends and habits will change with it.

When it comes to long term change doing something for negative reasons will lead you to fail because people are more motivated by positive goals (Desire Code). So if your why for what you want isn’t along the lines of because you love it, because you want to be better for yourself or because you want a challenge see if you can shift your thinking or find something else to do.

Did you find this post useful?

I post blogs for curious people every Wednesday at 9:00am.

In next week's blog I'll give tips on how to change behaviour long term based on behavioural design principles

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