Introduction: Achieving Goals
In the first article in this series I looked at the big question: Why is it that Achieving Goals related to our Health is so Bloody Hard? I talked about the big issues related to achieving goals. For this 2nd article in the series I want to go from that big global issue and drill right down to the day-to-day nitty gritty specific issue: Why can’t we do the small stuff that matters so much?
I said, “For a certainty, the only way to fail to achieve a goal is to NOT take, or to avoid actions in its direction.”
True the only way to fail for sure is to DO NOTHING, or to do so little it is meaningless.
Here I am starting to talk about TAKING ACTION. By that I mean DOING STUFF in the direction of your goal.
Let’s face it, it seems that it is logical to believe that taking action in this context should be easy. It is YOUR goal, YOU set it, for reasons important to YOU, no one else is making you do it. YOU WANT IT. If you have no physical reason for not being able to get off the couch then what IS the problem!?
But, oh, how hard is it to get off the couch after you have settled in!
And, ahhhh, how hard is it to stop dipping the spoon in the ice cream tub!?
They are indeed hard, very hard. I am being serious! Changing behaviour, to do something new, or to stop something we are comfortable doing, is REALLY hard. Not physically but in another way.
First things first. We have to understand why is it so hard to DO SOMETHING, to DO ANYTHING toward our health and fitness goals!
The Problem about taking actions on goals…
The problem is that humans are wired up to …
… actions that trigger negative emotional or physical effects.
Many of us are unconsciously driven by the instinct that goes something like this:
If what we are doing doesn’t feel good, STOP
We seek to stop the bad feeling – and we can most easily do that by stopping whatever it is we are doing that is causing it… like cooking a meal, taking our morning walk, getting to and staying at the gym to exercise or trying out some new activity.
STOPPING the actions, STOPS the process of change.
We jump back to what is comfortable and we feel better for the moment. But we continue to produce the same results using what is comfortable and familiar. You already KNOW what your current behaviour is causing! We are stuck.
I am going to leave you here to ponder the notion that without strategies to override those instincts to stop, delay, avoid or procrastinate we are not going to be healthier in the future than we are today.
I will leave you with the teaser that there ARE 3 cognitive strategies that those who seem to persist in growing their behaviour and getting the hard stuff done use consistently and with good effect. These are learned behaviours, meaning you can learn to use them well enough to use with immediate effect. I would like to convince you that I know what these strategies are and have taught them to scores of people successfully.
Have a wonderful week reflecting on your behaviour in light of the idea I am suggesting here
More from me soon.
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Dr. Stephanie Burns is well known in the Australian corporate, education and government communities. Her work is also found embedded in other international education programs. Originally trained as an engineer by the U.S. Army her career evolved through influential studies into human behaviour. Read more about Stephanie here