How to Commit to Change

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Power of Habit

The tendency to stick to the status quo, lack of urgency, present bias, and social norms come together in a perfect storm resulting in a lack of appetite to switch utility providers.” [Natalie Spencer]

What helps us commit to change? In a two-part post, Spencer outlines why it is not as easy to make a change, even when we might be motivated economically and how aspects of human nature do help. [h/t Experientia]

Marketers know that increasing the sense of urgency with deadlines, using the counter-intuitive tactic of limiting options, and presenting the benefits upfront do work in enticing people to switch providers, or try a new product.

Helping people think about themselves in the future is another option though we tend to underestimate the cumulative power of small, frequent changes because the future is farther in our mind (when it comes to gratification.) Yet it is closer than it appears to be and no time is better to start than now. We are all too human when it comes to expending effort as well, however. The trouble is that we don’t often appreciate the cost of doing nothing, because we cannot see the alternative future we would be creating by acting.

If you think persuading people to change phone carrier or electric provider is hard, try to help them change their eating habits, or helping them shift mindset from fixed to growth — from predetermined talent to developing the belief that it is through effort that we can become better. Better yet, if the effort is deliberate.

As anyone who has ever tried to make a change knows and research supports, the key is forming new habits. In addition to understanding how to work through cure, routine, and reward as illustrated above (from The Power of Habit book), the two most delicate parts in the endeavor of changing habits are starting and sticking with it after say a 30-day period.

Because to get value out of making a change, beyond the obvious need to start as soon as possible, we need to stick with it. It’s sticking with it that creates the conditions for the commitment — success generates success and confidence from keeping your promises to yourself — more than the other way around. Seeing some results from your efforts makes you feel good and this in turn is one more incentive to continue.

Experience better and good enough will be just a stepping stone.

Over the years after trying many things that did not work, I developed a few simple techniques to help me overcome inertia and succeed at making a change. My biggest ally has been learning to learn.

How about you? What have you found helpful?


Conversation Agent – Valeria Maltoni

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