Coach's Casebook

7 Reasons Why We Fail to Change our Behaviour

7 Reasons Why We Fail to Change our Behaviour

How many times have you made a New Year’s Resolution only to let your good intentions slide only a few weeks after you made the commitment.  Or perhaps you have thought about setting some behavioural goals, even written them down but then failed to follow through.

It is more common than you might expect.  Indeed there is a Chinese proverb that states:

There are no perfect actions, only perfect intentions.

Which suggests our actions rarely lead to the behavioural goals that we set in the way that we expected or perhaps we would like.

Setting behavioural goals is still important, but you also need to be aware of why we fail to achieve our goals and why we give up before we succeed.

1. Change Takes Time
Change, real change takes time.  Psychologists suggests a habit can take between 18 and 250 days to form.  That is daily repetitions.  The duration varies depending upon the complexity of the task.  The point is however, that it takes longer, some time much longer than we thought it would and we simply become impatient and give up.

2. The New Behaviour is No Longer Relevant
Once you have planned out your future and identified the habits, behaviours and goals you want, you start to confidently progress towards that vision.  However, after a period of time and some initial changes, the goal may no longer be relevant and so we just stop pursuing it and give up.

3. Change is Hard
Change is hard.  We are looking to break a pattern that has been ingrained over a number of years.   This can feel like trying to scratch a record with grooves that are an inch deep.  Being so difficult, we believe that such a change is impossible and give up.

4. Distraction
As we move towards our longer term goals, we are often offered attractive alternatives, the opportunity for short term happiness.  We are seduced by the promise of a ‘quick win‘ and so lose interest in harder, more reliable path and give up.

5. There Isn’t the Reward we Expect
As we move from where we are to where we want to be, we begin to get feedback, an insight into what we will get if we complete the change process or achieve the goal.   That insight may show us that what we are getting is not be the same as what we wanted and so we give up.

6. We Declare Victory Too Soon
If a habit takes time to ingrain, then there is a danger that as soon as it appears that we have completed the change, we stop placing effort into the new habit and the ‘needle on the mental record player’ jumps back into the ‘old grooves’ and we fall back into our old habits.

7. The Change Must be Forever
A recovering alcoholic is exactly that, constantly recovering.  The same applies with behavioural change.  It is only a new behaviour if we keep doing it, again and again and again.  Maintenance is tough, perhaps too tough and too much of a commitment to maintain. So we give up.

Being aware of these potential pitfalls in our journey to change our behaviours and habits, will help you be aware of when you are slipping and the reason for that slip. Being prepared for these pitfalls with help you overcome them.

Keep working to improve your performance and you will succeed.

Try here for more on how habits form and how long they take.

Dare to Aspire

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