Sunday, July 6, 2014

You will most likely fail

Accomplishing anything substantial is hard work. The discipline of 100% commitment, similarly involves a lot of hard work. A couple of weekends ago I quoted Jack Canfield, “99% is a bitch; 100% is a breeze.” I love that quote because it emphasizes very dramatically that anything less than 100% commitment is not conducive to the development of new habits. However, to be fair the quote can also be misleading. It can give the impression that the discipline of 100% commitment is an easy cake walk, and the truth is that it is not. 

According to research published earlier this year in the Journal of Clinical Psychology only about 8% of people who make New Year's resolutions succeed in achieving their resolutions. Or in other words, 92%  of people fail to achieve their New Year's resolutions. Statistics also show that people often make the same New Year's resolution over and over again for 10 years. You may appreciate that people don't easily give up on their hopes of changing themselves, but the real important message is that self-change is hard. That's why the majority of us fail to bring about positive change within ourselves and continue to fail despite several attempts. The sooner we realize and accept the reality that self-change is difficult, the better off we will be.

According to Peter Herman and Janet Polivy, researchers at the University of Toronto, one of the major reasons people fail in their self-change efforts is because they harbor the unrealistic expectation that self-change will be a fairly easy process that can be accomplished over a short period of time. They even have a term to describe the way people attempt to change themselves: false-hope syndrome. They call it false-hope syndrome because people start their self-change attempts with "high hopes and expectations of successful outcomes." These high hopes and expectations, though provide a lot of initial enthusiasm, cause people to later get disheartened and fail in their attempts of self-change.

So in today's post, I essentially have three messages, all related to the difficulty of self-change. First, self-change is an arduous process and accepting that reality is the first step in the direction of achieving success in the process. Second, because self-change is such a difficult process, anything less than 100% commitment will further increase the already high likelihood of failure. Third, even with 100% commitment and use of evidence-based specific techniques (I will describe a few of them in my next post), you will still fail because self-change is simply not easy. This realization will help you be more self-compassionate towards yourself when you fail (instead of self-critical), a factor that as discussed in previous post can be a huge aid on the tumultuous path of self-change.

To be continued...

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