Change or Die

If you had to make big changes in your life today in order to avoid death tomorrow, could you do it? Statistics say there’s a 9 to 1 probability that you can’t. How does lasting change happen?

Case in point: Heart by pass patients are told to change their life styles to incorporate much healthier habits like getting regular excersize and eating low fat, nutritious diets. They know they should do these things -they'll die sooner than later if they don't- yet within two years time 90% have not significantly altered their behavior.

What about us? Are we able to make significant changes and stick with them. Of course, we’ll say, “Yes, I’ll change.” And of course,we’ll begin to make those changes in lifestyle, eating habits, recreational pursuits and so on. But it’s not long before the enthusiasm tapers off, and we're soon back to square one. No change. No chance.

Changing people’s behavior isn’t just a costly health care issue. It’s an issue for businesses, where companies go belly-up every day still chanting the mantra, “We’ve always done it this way.” Corporations spend millions each year on consultants to bring in new practices and promote change, but any changes made are, at best, short-lived and, at worst, rejected out of hand.

It's not that we are uninformed. In a culture that inundates us with more that we can process about having a better lifestyle, advanced medical options, counselors and consultants, and a million other reasons to do so, change is just near impossible.

So how do we change and make it last? The answer lies in emotional resonance. We just can't cognitively think we are going to change, we need to be emotional persuaded to do so. In other words we need to approach change less from an informative and analytical left brain approach and begin making change from a right brain dynamic.  Change requires an emotional component in order to last.

If you really want to change people’s behavior, you need to give them a story, an identity, a relationship that is “emotionally resonant.”

What story do you want to live into? How is that narrative going to be lived out? See your life as story and yourself as the major character. This will create an emotional connection with your life that will create and sustain the changes needed to live happily ever after…

Posted in Attitude, Change, Resistence

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Jeff Vankooten is a speaker and author focusing on the power of resilience to effectively engage the challenges of change. He helps leaders, businesses, and organizations develop the skills necessary to thrive in an increasingly unpredictable business environment.
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