The biggest frustration I’ve found in many of my clients over the past 13 years is the inability to change. At face value this looks like a positive desire for growth held back with a negative attitude around progress. Even though progress might look like the issue here, there are hidden reasons as to why change is not taking place despite putting in the effort, or as we say in coaching doing the work.
Every environment you engage with will influence your view of the world. You will naturally take on or have your beliefs shaped, which in turn adjusts your behavior to better integrate into your surroundings. For instance, moving companies with the same career will mean that you spend time with different work cultures. Your routines, dialogues, and work ethic will get adjusted the more you spend time in your new work environment. If you worked for a bad boss in your former organization, it’s likely you formulated an idea around what it means to work for someone who treats you negatively. You carry this with you to your new company and it will get in the way of your relationships with your new bosses and even peers. This is what bad programming does, and it takes time for individuals and groups to “remove” it from their system, let alone make modifications.
When setting goals, it is one’s tendency to overachieve. We live in a world today where people have become highly ambitious, have a high need for material success, and lack the mental bandwidth to reach such it. In turn, this has negatively impacted their mental health and physical wellbeing. Because of this result, it has become trendy for people to pick up a best-seller book that swears by certain routines, behaviors, and mannerisms – such as waking up at 5 am and exercising – in order to close that gap between mental bandwidth and desired success.
What I’ve found is that it is easy to add all these “success routines” to one’s lifestyle, but very hard to implement altogether and consistently. So where is the problem? It’s in the compatibility of those behaviors with one’s internal operating system. Our internal operating system contains our stories, needs, priorities, and thoughts that subconsciously guide our behavior. Stacking behaviors that do not match one’s priorities, for instance, creates a recurring conflict. And so, it’s not you that’s the problem. Rather, it is your approach to designing behaviors of a lifestyle of success that match who you are.
Do not confuse this with internal conflict. This is about how you might set a personal improvement goal that is so important to you, yet you do not reach it no matter what you attempt to do every single time you set out to achieve it. You might be experiencing the effects of your immunity to change system. It was coined by American Psychologist and author, Dr. Bob Keagan. Simply put, you created 1 or more commitments – unknowingly – that directly compete with your desired area of improvement. Let me show you an example:
|1. Improvement Goal
(Highly important desired growth area)
|2. Doing/Not Doing
(Behaviors that get in the way of column 1)
|3. Hidden Commitments (Preserves danger from your worry box)
|4. Big Scary Assumptions
(Makes avoiding the dread in column 3 necessary)
|Lose weight to achieve better health
Heavy snacking during social gatherings
Not sticking to my diet plan when I am with friends
|My Worry Box if I achieve my goal:
a. Lose friends
b. Stop enjoying food
c. Live a boring lifestyle
My competing commitment:
1. Committed to keeping my current social life
2. Committed to being a foodie
|I assume if I’m not eating with friends, I will be judged for being boring
I assume if I stick to my diet, I will have to find new friends
I assume if I stick to my diet, everything I eat will be boring and repetitive
This whole system works in a viscous cycle between columns 1 to 3, while column 4 keeps feeding the cycle and helps it continue spinning. The system proves that the issue isn’t in your goal, or your reasons in achieving it. It’s actually in how your internal operating system responds to improvement.
Do not fall for the gurus, coaches, healers, and personal development professionals who speak in absolutes about your growth progress. You will hear statements like “stop making excuses” or “you’re not committed enough” or “you’re not coachable”. These are all assumptions based on how they view the growth and development. The way I see it is that we have a mind that processes growth versus death in a very sophisticated way. To be able to get what we want in business and life, we must take the time to appreciate how intelligent this mind is, what it is attempting to do to avoid dread, and how to work with the system to turn things around. So, give yourself a break. You’re very well put together as an individual, and shifting the needle is not as massive as you think in order to achieve results.
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