SHAKE your magic eight ball… What does it say?
It is important to be the “observer” of your experiences, and to align your purpose with what brings you to your best.
Life is filled with opportunities. We must each decide what is the right path to take, every step of the way. Observing your daily actions and reactions to your daily routines should reveal your path to the your future.
Ask yourself these questions:
Why is it so tempting to put off making a change? Why do people seem to have an inexhaustible source of excuses? Why do we expend more energy rationalizing things than just getting on with it? Why is change so hard?
Let’s first take a look at conscious and unconscious resistance.
Do any of these excuses look or sound familiar?
“I don’t need to change! I’m not the problem.”
“This is me, being authentic!”
“That was an isolated incident.”
“It’s no big deal.”
“It’s not me, it’s you.”
“Everybody does it this way.”
“It got me to where I am. I’ve been successful doing it this way.”
“I’m too busy to change.”
“I tried changing before and it didn’t work.”
When change is proposed by someone else, denial is a natural reaction. We’ve all occasionally felt the need to push back and to be defensive. Others are wrong! Here enters the ‘Bias Blind Spot’ and with it, a heady dose of irony. Not only are we humans stuck with a whole host of cognitive biases that cause us to make errors in judgment, but we are unaware of these biases and are often unable to find them in our own thoughts and behaviours. Check out an extensive list in layman’s terms at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases. (Remember, Wikipedia is user run and maintained, which means that not all the information you’ll find on it is necessarily accurate. However, it’s a useful starting point!)
“Faced with the choice of changing their mind, and proving there’s no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.” –John Kenneth Galbraith
Once you are aware of the need to make a change, the next step requires lots of repetition. It’s not so much that we are necessarily lacking in motivation, it’s that our brains are wired for unconscious resistance, too.
The brain learns through a process similar to what was described by Thomas Bayes in the 1700s, referred to now as Bayesian inference. Bayes’ theorem, as it applies to the way we learn, suggests that new information and ideas are added to existing schemas, skills and knowledge. New ideas aren’t examined solely on their own merit but are included with existing beliefs and the package gets evaluated as a whole.
This leads to three possible outcomes:
1. New information aligns with existing beliefs so it’s accepted and incorporated.
2. New information doesn’t align with existing beliefs so, after a period of unconscious deliberation, it is rejected.
3. New information doesn’t align with existing beliefs, but it is reinforced and made salient by the environment. Change happens!
The brain continues using external feedback to decide whether to incorporate the new information or not. Failure to get enough reinforcement leads to what often happens: everything seems to be moving ahead fine for a short while, but then old habits reassert themselves. Overcoming this ‘Bayesian inference machine’ in our heads requires constant repetition and an external environment that reinforces the changed behavior.
Change, then, requires:
Conscious acceptance and recognition of personal biases;
Repetition of the new ideas;
Reinforcement in the environment.
Have a wonderful New Year!