Why Just Changing Your Habits Doesn't Work In The Long Run...
Kris Deichler, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International
“We think we see the world as it is, when in fact we see the world as we are.”
- Stephen R. Covey
If you were going to focus on one thing that, by improving it, would make a fundamental, significant and revolutionary difference to the way you are and what you do and achieve in life what would that be?
It’s an important and valuable question to ask and to answer don’t you think!
I’m sure there are many situations and problems in our lives where many of us would love to be able to just click our fingers and change our experience and/or the quality of our results from those we’re currently seeing.
That might not be literally possible but there are some things we can do that will be far more effective at improving our lives and life situation than others. Unless we're clear what gives us THE greatest amount of leverage and will make THE greatest positive impact on our lives, we will likely be spreading ourselves thin; focusing on the wrong or more ineffective things and getting frustrated. How many of us constantly chop and change our ways in the attempt to get “there”, wherever and whatever “there” actually means for us personally, without ever seeing the improvements and successes we really want? Or without knowing just WHY something was successful enough to then repeat and improve on it again?
This can cause many to give up on their goals, believing they can’t change and that greater levels of success and happiness is something others were born for, or are just luckier at getting than ourselves.
But is that true? No. And this will explain why...
The most important thing any of us need to understand and in almost every case have probably never realised our whole lives, is that the most effective way to achieve positive change doesn’t start with changing our behaviour!
Really? No. Are you sure? Yes! 😉
It is something a lot deeper and more fundamental than that. After all, how many times have any of us started out trying to change the way we behave only to see ourselves slip back into our old ways after a brief spell of change and improvement?
Like in going to the gym regularly and enthusiastically for a few weeks only to gradually slip back to sitting on the sofa most nights watching Netflix and complaining we're too tired, or don't have enough time to go again.
In the end, we all want similar things... It might be that we want to enjoy a richer, deeper and more meaningful loving relationship with a partner, instead of the way things tend to become just another functional co-existence with someone when the honeymoon phase has faded.
We might want to have more genuine and deeply rooted self-confidence and certainty in ourselves at work, instead of the default hesitation, self-doubt and insecurity that’s been holding us back for years; stopping us from seizing opportunities we know would challenge and fulfil us. Or we might want to feel a greater belief in our ability to risk and go after a dream of ours; like starting our own business, rather than procrastinating and settling for the very comfortable but ultimately unfulfilling job we've been in for years now.
World-renowned author and speaker, the late Dr Stephen R. Covey; author of the book, 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,' spent years diligently researching personal development literature that spanned 150 years.
From this, he managed to identify that the key place for any of us to start if we want to achieve optimal results in our lives is NOT with our behaviour or even our attitude.
Nope... It was actually in the fundamental perceptions and beliefs we have developed about the world; our mental image of “the way things are” - our PARADIGMS!
Paradigms are what determine the patterns we live out each day.
They determine how we feel about ourselves and others in any given situation. They determine how we approach an opportunity or a problem and therefore what we get... or don’t get from them. They determine our every expectation for ourselves and life itself before we even get out of bed in the morning and are constantly in operation in our every waking moment. Paradigms are, as you might sense, FUNDAMENTAL in determining our level of success, happiness, fulfilment, affluence and abundance - or the very lack of those things.
Your very situation and experience of life right now has been first of all created and determined by the perceptions you have developed over the course of your lifetime and which are running in you right now, this very second, moment by moment as you read this article. Whether you knew it or not! That’s right. Every thought, feeling, judgement or question you have towards this thing you’re reading right now is being determined by your paradigms.
Are you intrigued, even fascinated by this? Are you curious, maybe sceptical about it? Are you more dismissive, even cynical towards it? Whichever it is, it is because of your paradigm, whether you realise it or not.
Paradigms are in effect the way we SEE and FEEL about the world; ourselves, other people, society... everything!
They form our perception, beliefs and interpretation of our experience moment by moment which will directly determine who we are; how we feel and think about things. What we then DO on the back of this - our behaviour - will determine our results, or what we GET in life...
Do you notice how the “doing” is not at the beginning of this process? That's why trying to change only our behaviour has, to a greater or lesser degree, never worked out to the extent we might have wanted it to. We were jumping in the middle and working in the wrong place; a bit like starting to build a house before you’ve even planned it and laid a foundation. No wonder it didn’t end up as good as you wanted it to and/or kept falling down.
For example: imagine you’re about to give a keynote presentation but your paradigm is that you're terrible at presentations; you’re not a very good speaker, the material is boring, the people in the audience don’t really want to be there, the speech you’re giving isn’t going to make any impact or difference in any way. How well do you think you will do? No matter how much you psyche yourself up and try to behave differently THAT paradigm will always be working against you.
It’s the same for anything in life. Imagine you’re with a new partner but your paradigm is that people always end up cheating on you or leaving you in the end, that a lasting relationship simply isn’t possible.
Imagine you want to start a business but your paradigm is that there's no way little old you can run a business and have a successful family life at the same time, or that people will always screw you over in business and you can’t trust anyone when money is concerned.
You can imagine the results and you get the picture!
So, the question we all need to ask is what ARE my paradigms in any given situation and how accurate are they?! The paradigm that we’re not a very good speaker may actually be accurate for where we are at that time, especially if we’ve never practised or done it before. However, an accompanying paradigm that says you could never change that and improve to become a very good speaker isn’t real and is holding you back.
The biggest mistake any of us will ever make, that will always sabotage and hold us back in life, is believing that the way we see and interpret something is always the way it is. As Dr. Covey says...
“If you want to make minor changes in your life, work on your behaviour. But if you want to make significant, quantum breakthroughs - work on your paradigms!”
- Stephen R. Covey
Watch the below video from Dr. Stephen R. Covey to understand more...
If you’d like help with how you can start to understand and change your paradigms to make quantum changes in your life, contact us through our live chat on the bottom right of the page...