How to Change Anything: The New Science to Personal Success – Source #1- Love What You Hate

Phil Wright
Contributing Writer
Success Academy Trainer

Have you ever attempted to change something in your personal life or professional career? Many people have with varying degrees of success.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve tried to lose weight, improve physical fitness, or get out of debt, kick a bad habit, improve sales performance, or increase market share, making progress requires some sort of change.

During many Success Academy training courses, we teach skills, techniques, language, and behaviors that require varying degrees of change in how technicians, CSR’s, and leaders conduct themselves. Some changes are more difficult to make than others, and it’s hard to know how to overcome the obstacles in your way.

In the book Change Anything: The New Science to Personal Success, the authors have identified six powerful, yet subtle sources of influence that shape your daily choices; not your lack of willpower. They examine each source, and explain how to implement tactics and strategies that will make each of them work in your favor, and get un-stuck in that area(s) of your life or career you want to change.

When it comes to making behavior changes, the researchers have broken down each of the six sources of influence into two knowledge bases: motivation (desire) and ability (knowledge/skill). They then looked at three forces that allow or hinder that knowledge being applied.

Source #1 – Love What You Hate 

When it comes to changing ourselves, the biggest challenge we have to overcome is that the things we should do are often boring, uncomfortable, or even painful. We want to do them in the abstract, just not in real life. We want to do them in the future, just not in the present. Here are some tactics and strategies that may help you “love what you hate.”

Tactic #1: Visit Your Default Future – If you’re having a hard time motivating yourself to make short-term sacrifices, there is a cure. Visit your default future – today. Your default future is the life you’ll live if you continue behaving as you currently are. It’s the life that’s hurtling toward you, but you aren’t motivated by it because you aren’t currently in it.

With a little imagination you can pull that unpleasant future forward and wire it into your current decision making. One powerful way to do this is to take a field trip to your future. An actual experience like this can profoundly reshape your feelings about your choices when the pep talks and guilt trips you’ve tried in the past have had no effect.

Our inability to see our future is particularly troubling when certain aspects aren’t guaranteed to happen, but will have cataclysmic consequences if they do. Under these circumstances, it can be even more important to personally examine what might happen to you…on a bad day. Glimpses into worst-case scenarios often propel people to change – in all kinds of areas of their life.

Is there a way to get a clear view of your most likely future? Visit someone or someplace that is pretty close to where you’re heading. The more vivid you make the visit, the more powerfully it can influence you.

Tactic #2: Tell the Whole Vivid Story – Many of us have already taken a peek into our future and know all too well what will happen to us if we continue down our current, unhealthy path. We just don’t feel it. And the reason we don’t feel it is that we play mental tricks with ourselves to keep from doing so. We think only about the partial and convenient truth. For example, we say “might” even though we know the truth is “most certainly.” We assume that our fate will follow luck rather than natural law. Mostly, we distract our attention from the default future by filling our mind with the present experience. In short, we nurture massive gaps in the truth – rather than fill in the ugly details.

When telling the whole vivid story, it’s important to use language that describes potential consequences in vibrant detail and use specific labels. For instance, ongoing research is showing that subjects who set aside money for generic “long-term savings” are less faithful in making their monthly contributions than those who choose to create a “new roof” account. Specific and meaningful labels identify specific consequences and as such are more motivating than water-down generic terms.

So, as you tell your whole story, use vibrant language. Replace innocuous terms such as “unhealthy” and “problematic” with poignant terms such as “bankrupt,” “fired,” “divorced,” and “emphysema.” Stop comforting yourself with fairy tales, innocent language, and half-truths.

Use the same type of poignant and vivid language when portraying what will happen when you do the right thing. For instance, you’re not merely going to be healthy; you’re going to play with your grandkids on the floor. You won’t just have more money for your retirement; you’ll cruise the Mediterranean. When considering both healthy and unhealthy actions, you deserve the whole truth, the vivid truth and nothing but the truth.

Tactic #3: Use Value Words – In order to make lasting changes, it’s important to keep in mind the reasons behind your current actions and sacrifices. Using value words help provide a link between actions and values. Whether you’re referring to pride in your work, respect, fairness, or being trustworthy; all speak to values, values, values.

Stop obsessing over the unpleasant aspects of what you’re required to do, and focus your attention on the values you’re supporting. The words you use to describe what you’re doing profoundly affect your experience of the crucial moment. For instance, when sticking to a lower-calorie diet, don’t undermine your own motivation by describing your choices as starving or going without. You’re doing far more than manipulating calories. You’re becoming healthy; you’re sticking to your promise; you’re sacrificing so that you’ll be mobile when playing with your grandkids. This difference in description may sound small, but words matter. They focus the brain on either the positive or negative aspects of what you’re doing.

Carefully choose the words you’ll use to describe your vital behaviors. In short, use words that support your values and provide positive thoughts – it can be very satisfying.

Next Steps 

As you work on your change effort, rid yourself of the notion that success requires a lifetime of self-denial. You can take steps to change how you feel about both negative and positive choices by making your likely future salient, poignant, and real. You can learn to love what you hate. To do so, keep the mentioned tactics in mind.

Review each of these tactics and decide which best suit your needs. Build one or more into your written change plan. Since all Source #1 tactics deal with you thinking about both the future and the present, they’re only a thought away. That makes them immediately available and totally under your control. Source #1 can be a powerful ally.

However, this article has only scratched the surface of one source. As previously mentioned, Change Anything: The new Science to Personal Success identifies six sources of influence.  Be sure to check it out!

Success Academy Trainer Phil Wright has 24+ years in the public relations, marketing and branding industries.  Phil also served as partner and president of his own service-based business.  For the last six years, Phil has provided leadership and communication training, both in the classroom and web-based programs.  From training non-profit to Fortune 500 companies, Phil brings vast experience to Success Academy to get teams prepared and ready for success. 

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