Change Is Three Times Harder Than You Thought

Last week I wrote about one of my favorite topics – being relentlessly helpful. (Let me say, I love the image this evokes for people. Can’t you just picture me…chasing you down the street, waving my arms and shouting “Let me help you, dammit!”)

That isn’t exactly what I mean, but if it helps you remember the premise, I am all for it.

Anyway, being relentlessly helpful is something I have touted for a while. And I truly believe in it.

So, what inspired me to write about it now?

Recently, I have been reading a book by Tommy Wyatt and Curtis Lewsey, called Appreciation Marketing, which is in the same vein.

Wyatt and Lewsey point out that we are able to control two things in our lives: our thoughts and our effort.

For many people, the thoughts aren’t the problem…

The real downfall comes in the effort.

First, let me tell you that I am in no position to judge in this area. (And I wouldn’t judge you anyway.) This is hard for everyone!

It comes down to changing habits – which we all know is difficult.

You have probably heard that it takes 21 days to change a habit – but did you know that statistic isn’t scientifically validated?

I did a little research, and it turns out the doctor who made the statement that started all the hullabaloo had merely mentioned an observation that it took his patients “a minimum of about 21 days” to adjust to change.

Somehow, that shortened and morphed into the current belief that it takes 21 days to form a habit.

Well…I have good news and bad news.

The good news is, if you haven’t had success changing your habits over a three-week period – you are not alone.

The bad news is, that’s because it takes longer than 21 days to form a new habit.

According to a study in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic.

And, unfortunately, the range of time isn’t much help either. It took between two and eight months for habits of varying complexities to form in the 96 individuals in the study.

So, what does this mean for you?

If you want to change, you need to make a conscious decision every day until it becomes automatic – however long that takes.

And having support in your endeavors is incredibly helpful. Let me give you an example.

I have always said that I want to send more handwritten cards, and I have never done it. (Or, when I did start it I always let it fizzle out quickly.)

But no more!

Now, I write three handwritten cards five nights a week before I go to bed.

Here are the steps I have put in place to help ensure I stick to my new habit (and have more integrity with myself):

  1. I draw three circles in my notebook daily. Throughout the day, when I am inspired to do so, I write the name of the person (and maybe a little reminder of the inspiration) I want to send a card to.
  2. I asked my husband to hold me accountable. Every night before I go to bed he says to me, “Did you write your cards?”
  3. And, because the accountability piece is so key, I also asked a friend to do this with me. We text each other each night asking, “Have you written your cards?”

Remember, this isn’t a time to be prideful – ask for help. Not only will it help you accomplish your own goals, but it can help a friend reach theirs as well. Bonus!

As I said last week, this is a life tactic, and not just about generating clients. I truly believe that you get what you give in this world. Making the effort is so important.

If you live a life of gratitude people will notice. (And yes, it will likely have a positive impact on your business.) It may be hard to make that change you have been dreaming of, but it is so worth it! I challenge you to write some hand written cards this week. Can you send three a day? Please let us know in the comments how it goes – I can’t wait to hear about all the joy you are spreading.

Until then… stay passionate!

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