There’s no doubt about it – change is hard. And it isn’t hard because we don’t know what to do to achieve our goals. If we want to be healthier, we know this means being more active, making better choices in our diet, and giving up sedentary and unhealthy habits. If we want to spend more meaningful time with family, we know this means having “no-screen” time and planning out things we can do with our loved ones to build stronger connections and memories. But even with this knowledge of what to do, actually making change – or at least, making a change that lasts – is something that many of us struggle with. But why is this the case?
In this video, speaker Mel Robbins shares with us the neuroscience of change, why making change is a challenge for most, and simple tips for making change successfully. Watch the video, then read below for some of the key takeaways from this talk.
As I watched this speech, there were some definite “ah-ha!” moments that I’d like to share with you here. As you review, consider the questions asked and how you can use this information to build up your capacity for success in making change happen.
- There are three obstacles that we all face when attempting to make a change. Our brains, our success, and our fear. This video really focuses on the brain and what we can do to combat this barrier; however, success and fear are also important to keep in mind. How has your own success contributed to a lack of willingness to change? How can you push the fear of the unknown away so that you are able to take the risk of making a change?
- As Mel explains in this video, we used to believe that our brains stopped growing in our mid-twenties. We now know that our brains are actually always growing, which is good news for those of us seeking to make a change for the better in our lives. Because of the concept of neuro-plasticity, all of us have the power to embed new behaviors and routines into the pathways of our minds. This doesn’t come easily and requires active attention to making the change, but with repetition and dedication, we can slowly start moving change from an active process to something that our brains do while working on auto-pilot.
- Before every new behavior we engage in, every move from stasis, our minds and bodies require energy to push us through the moment of hesitation. This applies when we get out of bed each day, when we stop ourselves from grabbing an unhealthy but loved snack, and when we actively engage in our new choice. This means that change IS hard – it requires us to commit to providing ourselves the energy to push through these moments without doing what comes more naturally.
- We only do anything three reasons: We are paid to do it, we have to do it, or we are deeply committed to the action. Although she doesn’t dive into these concepts too deeply, we can further extrapolate some additional ideas for making change. For every new change or routine you are attempting, consider how you can use these facts to help you: How can you build incentives for yourself for engaging in the new behavior? Who will hold you accountable for the change? How can you remind yourself of the benefits of making the change, thereby building your passion for maintaining it?
- Finally, Mel provides a simple exercise that can help us through the moment of hesitation – the 5 second rule. This is the window of time where we are most open to making steps towards change once we’ve made a decision to do so. How can we use this window to actually embed change though? Mel suggests writing down an idea, connecting with another person, or doing something that requires a bit of physical or mental effort that can keep us attuned to the motivator we have to change, to just do it. By doing this, we are leaving an impression on our brain – creating the first image of what change may look like, and give our brains an outline to follow that we can continue to fill with additional actions.
Think about a change you are trying to make in your own life – how can you use what you’ve learned to make this change a success? Leave your first impression by writing down your answer right now.