Behavior Change Myths–Part 2: Big Leaps vs Baby Steps

Finally… part 2.

Again, the inspiration for this mini-series comes from this presentation.

Myth #2–Attempting big leaps of change instead of taking small steps

Ah did this one ring true when I read it. I’m sure we’ve all done this before. For me, it typically happens after an experience–either good or bad–where I suddenly feel a renewed desire to succeed. To change.

I go to bed that night with rich plans of what the future holds. “Tomorrow! When I wake up, I’m going to leap out of bed and exercise for an hour! Then I’m going to write in my journal! Then I’m going to study the scriptures for 30 minutes!!!”

Sound familiar?

How often does that last? For me, I think my record was about three days.

The point is that we are creatures of habit, and yes, while we can indeed change those habits and grow, huge changes like this lack the foundation (the habits) essential to behavior.

What I’ve found to be successful is instead to pick one thing. Something you want passionately but just one thing. Focus on it. Set a clear goal. Make it a priority. And then work on it.

One thing I’ve realized over the last few days is that setbacks aren’t failures. Failures imply a sense of permanence. Eternity. Rockets fail, and when they fail, they go boom. People don’t fail, though. We have setbacks. Momentarily loses of the momentum.

A good friend and I are working with a family in our ward to help them change some habits, and the thing we keep talking about is the idea that progression is a journey, not a destination. Trends matter more than current direction.

We all experience the consistent roller coaster of life. What matters more than the ups and the downs is the average level of the two. We may ride from a high of 10 to a low of 1, but if the average over time increases from a 4 to a 5 or a 5 to a 6, we’re going the right direction.

So go ahead. Feel inspired. Feel so motivated that you can’t contain the excitement. And maybe even launch out of bed in the morning ready to run a marathon NOW. And then drive that passion into a single achievable short-term goal. A 24-hour goal that you can complete and build off of.

My track coach in high school used to tell me that I can do anything for 30 seconds. It’s true. I can do anything for 30 seconds. And when that 30 seconds is up, I can do anything for 30 seconds. When it comes to ridding our lives of the addictions we all face, all we need to do is 30 seconds at a time.

And because no post on baby steps would be complete without it…

Baby steps to the elevator…. Baby steps to the elevator….

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One Response to Behavior Change Myths–Part 2: Big Leaps vs Baby Steps

  1. Pingback: Behavior Change Myths–Part 8, Abstract vs. Concrete « the prodigal

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