Make Change Stick: Knowing Isn’t Enough

Brain-functionsWhen it comes to personal change, like breaking or making a new habit, even the best leaders can struggle. It is difficult to make change stick.

A hallmark of great leadership is adaptability and growth. I’ve written about this type of mindset, here. But changing habits—making changes stick—can be one of the hardest things to do. Once we decide to lose weight, quit smoking, get fit, or do anything differently, it takes a lot of effort and persistence before we can claim success. Anyone who tells you it only takes 30 days to acquire a new habit doesn’t know human nature.

Most leaders who’ve been successful at making major lifestyle changes report that it rarely comes as steadily upward progress. Instead, it’s often two steps forward and one back, with intermittent relapses, surges of resolve, and a lot of learning along the way.

One has only to look at the obesity problem in the US and other affluent countries to see how hard it is to make behavioral changes that stick. Despite growing evidence that being overweight contributes to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and premature aging, people struggle to lose weight, start exercising, and eat healthy. The obesity rates aren’t getting better, they’re getting worse.

And yet we know more about how to make or break habits than ever before. Behavioral scientists have conducted extensive research into how people make lasting changes. Why aren’t more people successful?

Knowing Isn’t Enough

“If you want to make a change you need to know why you’re making the change―but for that change to really last you need more than knowledge. When it comes to change, our minds don’t work rationally.” ~ The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr. Elissa Epel, Grand Central Publishing, 2017

What have been your experiences making changes stick? I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached here and on LinkedIn.

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