ESSENTIAL ELEMENT: Creating Change
Critical Concept: The Creative Process
Change can be hard – especially if you do not know how to change. Most people can tell you exactly what they don’t want or what they don’t like. They can easily describe their dissatisfaction with their current job, relationship, body, health or situation. Unfortunately for most people, they cannot so readily describe what they do want – what they would like to experience, become or create. According to author Robert Fritz (The Path of Least Resistance – Learning to Be The Creative Force in Your Own Life), this is exactly why most change efforts fail.
You cannot create what you want by moving away from what you don’t want.
The human psyche has great difficulty sustaining a “negative goal” or breaking a bad habit. This is why it is so difficult to quit smoking or to lose weight. Start a good habit instead. Try setting a positive goal, and move toward what you want; for example: to be a non-smoker or to become healthier.
Fritz outlines an equation for creating the life that you want. Basically, you must learn how to identify exactly what you want (your objective) and compare and contrast that to what you currently have. The difference or contrast between what you envision as your “desired outcome” and your current “perceived reality” creates a natural tension that will serve to create the Path of Least Resistance toward your goal and fuel your change effort.
We must then identify what specific behaviors have led to our current situation (what we have) and what specific behaviors would lead to what we really want. It is critical to “own” the reality that our behaviors have natural consequences and that these outcomes are remarkably predictable.
The old saying “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting” has been proven to be true in Behavioral Psychology. In order to get different outcomes, you must adopt new behaviors. Now here’s the rub: new behaviors can be awkward and difficult. You simply must practice new (better) behaviors until they become easier. Repetition is the mother of mastery. Clinical research shows that new habits can be formed through repetition. Our brain cells actually create novel connections and new habits are formed.
“Successful change leaders are more likely to set behavioral goals,” say authors Chip and Dan Heath (Made to Stick and Switch). When it comes to personal or organizational change, “to create movement you must be specific and concrete about what it is that you are trying to accomplish.”
Successful change agents have taught us some powerful best practices for adopting new behaviors. Changing the environment is easier than changing people. The key concept is to help make “good behavior” easier and “bad behavior” more difficult. For instance: keeping your treadmill in your bedroom versus in your basement, or keep the ice cream out of your house by not buying it at all. Additionally, changing things is permanent; changing people can be an on-going process. Examine your support group: who do you spend your time with and what behaviors do they promote? Where you spend your time and with whom can be two of the most influential forces in your change effort’s success – or failure. Choose them well.
Ultimately, you have the power to create incredible positive, lasting changes in your health and life with the right skills and know-how. The Bonfire Program is filled with influence mechanisms and strategies that will equip and support you every step of the way.
Dr. James Chestnut puts it best when teaching this Wellness Principle: “Don’t move away from a negative, move towards a positive.”
Decide exactly what you do want to create and get to it.