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The Challenge of Behavior Change

By Scott Schwefel, CSP, CEO, Discover Yourself

Anyone who has ever made a resolution to get more exercise, to waste less time on Facebook, or to become more organized about their work already knows that it is incredibly hard to change our behavior. Once a behavior has become a habit or a part of our routine, it’s very difficult to replace that habit with something new.

Why is it so hard to change our habits?
If my goal is to get fitter, and I have the equipment, time, and motivation to do so, why is it so hard to stick to a goal like going running twice a week? I might manage my goal for a few weeks, but if I’m like most people then I won’t maintain the new habit in the long term. Even when I know that the new habit will make me feel better and will make me happier overall, it’s still tough to maintain.

The problem is that as humans, we are far less rational than we like to believe. We’d like to think that when we’re presented with clear evidence that a particular action is possible and would make us happier, then of course we’d change our habits. But in truth, we don’t weigh choices rationally. In a previous blog post we talked about an experiment where kids would rather eat one marshmallow now than wait ten minutes and get two marshmallows. It might surprise you to learn that adults do much the same thing. An experiment at New York University offered adults a choice: they could receive $20 now or wait a month and receive more money then. The majority of people chose to have the $20 now, even though they would have received more money if they had waited. The essential problem is that, as human beings, we are bad at weighing our future happiness against our immediate desires.

How can we influence our own behavior?
Given this problem, what can we do to change our behavior? There are two main approaches to this issue:

Firstly, we can get more information about the issue. In the case of exercise, we could learn more about the health benefits of exercise and how it could improve our life. Information like this can provide long term motivation in setting goals, but given that we do not make decisions rationally, it might not be so helpful in getting us out the door for a run right this minute.

The other approach to behavior change is to provide incentives. These can be either positive, like getting a reward for completing a new habit, or negative, like giving money away when you don’t complete the habit. Both positive and negative incentives can be effective, so it’s best to use a combination of the two. It also helps to keep us engaged if these incentives are fun and immediately rewarding.

The role of the environment

If you want to make new habits, there’s something important to understand about human psychology and how it applies to behavior change, and that is the role of the environment. People often think of humans as being “brains first” or “genetics first,” as if there is a core real “us” which is placed into the world. But this isn’t the case. Rather, our brains (and our minds) develop in response to our environment. Your brain and your mind are profoundly affected by the world around you – to such an extent that if you were taken completely out of your environment, you wouldn’t be “you” for much longer.

Instead of thinking of yourself as a pre-formed brain which should make rational decisions based on self-interest (which is not a helpful way to think when you’re trying to change your behavior) think of yourself as a bundle of intentions which responds to environmental cues. Information comes from the environment, it enters our brains, we respond to this information through behavior, and behavior drives outcomes.

Practical advice
What does this mean in practice? What actions can you take to make it more likely that you’ll stick to your new habits? Here are a few suggestions to promote behavior change:

  • Remove “pain points” to make it easy to do the right thing. For example, have your running gear washed, ready, and in one place, and leave your running shoes by the door. Then whenever you do want to go for a run you won’t be put off by the hassle of finding your gear.
  • Put physical reminders in your environment. For example, if you want to work on your finances each morning then put your accounting book on top of the papers on your desk. You’ll have to physically pick up the book to get to your desk so you’ll be reminded and incentivized to do your accounting.
  • Reward yourself for meeting your goals. The trick for this tip is to pick an appropriate reward. If you reward yourself for going running by eating fast food, then you’ll undo all of your good work. Instead, try something small like ticking a box or adding a sticker to your diary. It might sound childish, but a physical reminder of your progress like a sticker can be great motivation.
  • Related to this, do track your progress over the long term. For example, you could record how many days per week you do your accounting, or track how many miles you run each time. You’ll be able to see yourself improving over time, which will reinforce that each run adds towards your long term goal of getting fitter.
  • Get social support. One of the biggest factors in whether someone will be able to successfully quit smoking isn’t whether they use nicotine patches, or if they’re educated about health risks, or even whether they enjoy cigarettes – it’s whether they have support from their social circle. Having friends, family, and colleagues support you in your new behavior will be a big help in getting you to stick with it.

Next time, we’ll talk about perception and the ways that we perceive the environment around us – correctly and incorrectly. So check back soon for more. www.discoveryourself.com

Beyond Success

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Throughout the past few weeks, we’ve talked about success and how to achieve it. Achieving success following this path requires much thought and personal work, but in the end, it will hopefully allow you to reach some of the personal goals you have created for yourself. Using the power of your personality type and what we know about the subconscious mind, we can create successful patterns of living our lives and accomplishing our goals.

Working towards success

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” William Churchill spoke these words as a man acquainted with both great failure and great success. Churchill, Edison, Einstein, and other individuals throughout history had failed many times before they were able to produce the successes they knew they were capable of. Einstein puzzled with the very nature of the makeup of the universe, and his contributions to physics and mathematics were products of asking questions, finding answers, figuring out if they were right or wrong, and continuing on his line of questioning until he reached the end.

When creating the filament wire for the lightbulb, Edison failed over and over again in the quest for light. In Edison’s case, this was finding the literal light in the form of contained electricity. He failed over a thousand times to create the right filament, and yet he continued to work away at this problem until he got it right.

Success and happiness

This isn’t all to say that all the successful people we know aren’t faced with challenges eventually. Albert Schweitzer said: “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Combining what we are passionate about with what we do every day can have a major impact on our overall success rate as well as how happy we feel about the path our lives are on.

Success doesn’t always lead to happiness – just ask the lottery winners who may be financially successful, but are no happier than they were before they won. Successful professionals may find that their professional success has come with many personal sacrifices and that their passion has waned. However, success in these fields would be extremely beneficial to the person who has planned out their personal and professional goals, done the work to achieve those goals and has remained aligned with their passion for what they do.

Carl Jung opened up an entirely new world with his discoveries, and new discoveries in the psychology of personality and the self are still being made today. Insights Discovery is based squarely on Jung’s theories, and as such, it is an invaluable tool in helping people to understand themselves and others. Schedule me, Scott Schwefel, as your keynote speaker, and I will come to your group and address the differences in personalities in a truthful, fun, and easily understood way. Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to share my blogs with the color energies you work with!

Success, One Step at a Time

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The path to success isn’t found through a formula. Success doesn’t just happen because someone got lucky, or won the lottery. Success looks different for everyone, which is what makes defining success and following your own path that much more important.

There were eight steps outlined in the last eight blogs to show one way how success can be achieved using your passion and what you want your life to look like. The first step was to find your passion, which is a statement that can seem simpler than it is in practice. Finding your passion can take time, but think about what you would do if you didn’t have to worry about money or time. What would you do?

Steps to success

The second step to success was to define success as it pertained to you; this doesn’t mean success as society, your family, or your job defines it. Step three was to know your personality, what you are good at and who you are at both work and home. Step four was to set goals which align with your passions and can be placed into categories like your physical health, your spiritual life, your family, your friendships, and your financial and work lives.

Step five was to think. Think about your goals once you’ve written them down and work towards attaining those goals, one day and one step at a time. These accomplishments may not seem like much, but in the long term, they reveal much more about who you are and how far you’ve come. Setting your mind to your goals is a powerful tool.

The next two steps were the most essential. Operate with integrity both at home and at work, and execute your plan to utilize your passion every day and find success. Inspiring respect in others is a by-product of living with integrity and executing your personal plan for success on your terms.

This isn’t the end

Of course, finding success isn’t the end of the line. Failures happen, and success is temporary, but continuing to strive towards personal success creates good habits and brings you closer to living out your passions consistently. Giving back to the people who helped you accomplish your goals is essential, as is giving your knowledge and experience back to others who may be on their journeys to success behind you.

Carl Jung opened up an entirely new world with his discoveries, and new discoveries in the psychology of personality and the self are still being made today. Insights Discovery is based squarely on Jung’s theories, and as such, it is an invaluable tool in helping people to understand themselves and others. Schedule me, Scott Schwefel, as your keynote speaker, and I will come to your group and address the differences in personalities in a truthful, fun, and easily understood way. Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to share my blogs with the color energies you work with!

Giving Back

giving back

You are on a roll! You have accomplished a few of the goals you have set for yourself and are seeing improvements in your personal, professional, and social lives. What happens now? There will always be a few setbacks when it comes to shaping your life and accomplishing your goals, but over time you may find that setting your attention towards your goals makes them easier to attain.

You may start to feel better, not only mentally, but physically as well. If one of your goals was to eat better and exercise more, you should feel the physical benefits of this new lifestyle as your body grows healthier and more energetic. If your goals were professionally oriented, you might have gotten closer to a coveted position within your company or finally settled into a new career that is more closely aligned with your passions.

Looking ahead

Looking ahead to the future means continually assessing and evaluating your goals to see what you have accomplished in the last few months or years. Knowing how far you’ve come can give you a much-needed mental boost on those days when you feel like you haven’t accomplished very much. Take this newfound energy and success and channel it not only towards yourself, but towards other people as well.

You can imagine that you are in a place of growth as you accomplish your goals and create a life you are passionate about. This direction leads you towards places of influence over others, whether it is within your family or your professional sphere. As you grow and begin to know yourself better, you can have an incredibly positive effect on those around you. Giving back to the people you interact with every day can be as simple as smiling at the barista at your local coffee shop or not losing your temper when confronted with bad drivers on your commute.

We can’t always control the world around us, but we can control our reactions to the people, circumstances, and situations we find ourselves in. As we enter a new phase of defining and finding success for ourselves, we need to remember that we are in control of our futures and our destinies.

We are what we think

The idea that we are what we think about is nothing new. Everyone from the Greeks to Buddha to figures in the Bible echoes a concept along those lines. If we are consistently thinking about who we are, what we want to accomplish, and how we are going to obtain success, our lives will naturally flow in those directions.

Carl Jung opened up an entirely new world with his discoveries, and new discoveries in the psychology of personality and the self are still being made today. Insights Discovery is based squarely on Jung’s theories, and as such, it is an invaluable tool in helping people to understand themselves and others. Schedule me, Scott Schwefel, as your keynote speaker, and I will come to your group and address the differences in personalities in a truthful, fun, and easily understood way. Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to share my blogs with the color energies you work with!

Defining Success

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What is your definition of success? Many of us might not have thought much about what success means to us. All too often we accept someone else’s definition of success- a college degree, a career, marriage, kids, a mortgage. These paths aren’t always the right one for individuals to take; each person needs to define success for themselves.

Defining success can be difficult. We often aren’t sure of who we are or what we want to be, even if we have already grown up. What we are passionate about might have been left by the wayside or never discovered in the first place. Defining success for ourselves is a journey, just as life is.
Finding success
Finding success is, of course, as elusive as finding happiness. When we have it, we don’t always know it, and often we are so intent on finding it that we forget to enjoy the moment we are in. These moments, the everyday moments, are the ones in which we can find what success means to us as individuals. Without considering other peoples’ expectations or definitions of success, we can learn to define who and what we want to be.
Finding success starts with a starting point and a goal. Knowing where you are and where you want to go can help define success to you personally. Starting with where you are can mean categorizing certain parts of your life, such as your physical life, spiritual life, family, friends, work, and finances.
Some goals are small; in fact, the smaller the goal, the greater the accomplishments. Life is lived in moments, and successes aren’t just those big life changing moments we occasionally have. Some successes come in increments, making the larger journey that much more attainable.
Success on life’s journey
Success isn’t always where you are today, but where you have come from. Having the ability to look back and see how far you have come in meeting your personal goals is part of defining success on your terms. Success doesn’t always mean climbing a ladder- sometimes it means taking a step back and reassessing what is the most important to you and moving in that direction.

Part of success is also recognizing that failures will happen. Society tells us that to fail is bad; however, failure makes us learn faster and often pushes us towards life lessons that need to be learned. Failure can be beneficial to individuals in the long run when it comes to defining successes later on.
Jung opened up an entirely new world with his discoveries, and discoveries into the psychology of personality and the self are still being made today. Insights Discovery is based squarely on Jung’s theories, and as such is an invaluable tool in helping people understand themselves and others. Schedule me, Scott Schwefel, as your keynote speaker, and I will come to your group and address the differences in personalities in a truthful, fun, and easy-to-understand way. Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to share my blogs with the color energies you work with!