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3 Common Pitfalls to Change (And How to Avoid Them)

I don’t believe there is less than 3 weeks remaining in 2020. And although this year has been “unique,” I think now might be the best way to prepare for a better 2021. Today’s post is going to discuss 3 Common Pitfalls I’ve seen when it comes to implementing successful change, and what you can do to avoid them.

The 3 Common Pitfalls with Successful Change

  1. People don’t actually know what they want.
  2. People have not aligned their values/positive emotions with the things they purport to want to change
  3. They only focus on the end, and not the Continuous 1st Step.

Let’s go over what these three things are and how you can avoid the trap inherent in these pitfalls.

1. People Don’t Actually Know What They Want

Often times people know extensively what they don’t want, but ask them what they do want, and they can only half describe it.

“I don’t want to feel out of shape.” Ok…what does that mean exactly? Does that mean you can run a 5k? Does that mean you can keep up with your kids? Or does that mean something completely different to you?

Knowing what you want means you have a vision that you’re aiming towards. And a vision is more than a goal, because it’s more personal.

For instance, someone might have a “goal” to get married by a certain age, but when they meet the person they want to marry, it should no longer be a “goal.” Instead, there should be a vision of the shared life you want to have with that other person.

The same is true for yourself, inasmuch that a vision is necessary to fully implement the changes you want to make: How does your like look like, when you have achieved what you want? What has remained the same? What new actions are you taking and enjoying? What old actions have you joyfully left behind and grew out of?

This is the vision of not only new actions, but a partially new You.

2. People haven’t aligned their values/positive emotions with the things they purport to want to change.

After you have a vision of the life/lifestyle you want, the question is, how can you align that with what you value. For instance, a lot of people highly value freedom and connection. These two values rate highly for a lot of people. And then these same people go on super strict diets, where they don’t feel free to eat the foods they like, and makes them feel like an outcast amongst their friends and family.

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In creating such structured and confined rules for eating, they are acting against two of their highest values. This is a system that’s designed to fail.

Instead, you need to find ways to align your deeper values, with the changes you want to make.

For instance, when I eat by myself (I live by myself, so this may be different for you), I eat super healthy, and generally in a slight deficit. When I eat out with others, I eat whatever I want to eat. But even when I go out to eat, there are a few rules I follow: A. I stop eating when I’m full (or whenever the taste of the food drops precipitously – usually means I’m full before I actually “feel full”). B. I don’t have to finish the food (I can take it to go). C. I don’t eat the bread & butter, or chips & salsa. I eat only the things I have ordered and want to eat. D. I don’t have more than one drink at dinner.

Just these simple rules, allow me to have the freedom and connection I have without being too concerned about overeating with calories.

Does this mean that this technique is perfect? Absolutely not. But it is perfect for me. And that’s the point.

You have to find out what your higher values are, and then align your actions to those values. Because if you don’t, you’re going to end up quitting the habit, while often times blaming it on “lack of self-control,” which could not be further from the truth.

3. They only focus on the end, but not the Continuous First Step

The Continuous First Step is the most important aspect of any long-term successful change. The Continuous First Step is the battle you have to fight day in and day out, week in and week out. It never goes away and is the thing that will test your resolve, yet all you have to do is that First Step and you’re well on your way. But most people only focus on the ends that they want, and way too little focus on that Continuous First Step.

For instance, with working out, the Continuous First Step for me, has always been getting to the gym. That’s the battle I need to fight most days of the week. If I do that though, if I simply show up to the gym, I am more than half way there. That’s the hardest step for me, and the one that when I’m at my weakest, is the one I will most readily give up on.

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With Covid, it was doing the first push-up. If I did that, I would workout. If I couldn’t get myself down to the ground to do one push-up, I invariably wouldn’t workout.

So sure, I want to be healthy, and I want to have a certain type of look, and those are my “ends,” but the way to get there is through that Continuous First Step.

With eating, sometimes The Continuous First Step is not having certain foods in the house. Or it could be: Meal Prepping for the Week Planning Your Meals Eating 2 servings of vegetables at the beginning of every meal Eating slowly (20 chews per bite) or being mindful of your satiation (fullness) levels Having the same healthy 1 or 2 breakfast and lunches options every day of the week, and allowing dinners to be unique different.

No matter your strategy, know that that Continuous First Step, will often times be the hardest, but most worthwhile step towards any goal you have.

Have a good week!