The person who promised to change yesterday is not the same person who has to execute that change today. We make promises to ourselves and others today that we cannot keep tomorrow. This is a most illusory belief – because it triggers over-confidence in our ability to execute our plan.
We refuse to adapt our behavior to new situations because “it isn’t me.” This belief triggers stubbornness.
When we intend to work long hours, we’re not exhausted. But after we work several hours we become tired and are eager to throw in the towel. It’s the same with changing our ways – we grow tired with the effort it takes to change. This triggers depletion.
People who read my writing often tell me, “It’s common sense. I didn’t read anything here that I don’t already know.” True, but there’s a difference between understanding and doing. Just because people understand what to do doesn’t ensure that they will actually do it. This belief triggers confusion.
Even when we appreciate that nothing is permanent, we still believe in the idea of perfection – that there is a perfect weight, a perfect job, a perfect state of mind if only we strive harder to achieve it. This triggers hopelessness -- so we give up.
We have an unshakeable belief in the essential fairness of life – that if we do what is asked of us, we will be rewarded for it. When that faith is shaken and we see that life is not fair, we feel cheated. Our dashed expectations trigger resentment. We convince ourselves that the game is rigged against us and refuse to play again. In other words, we stop trying.
We believe that we are solely responsible for our own happiness and success, that positive change starts and ends within us and is neither shaped nor determined by the people around us. We abuse self-sufficiency, ignoring the value of a supportive environment, taking foolish pride in doing it all ourselves. We trigger our isolation.
We don’t plan for the low-probability events because, by definition, any one of them is unlikely to occur. But in the aggregate, low probability events affect us all the time. Who plans on a flat tire, or accident, or stalled traffic because of an overturned semi on their way to work? This belief triggers unrealistic expectations.
In a down moment after failure or loss, we tell ourselves, “At least I’m better than _______.” We award ourselves a free pass because we’re not the worst in the world. This is our excuse to take it easy, lowering the bar on our motivation and discipline. We’ve triggered a false sense of immunity.
Today is the Super Bowl, or my birthday, or our anniversary, or my day off. We excuse our momentary lapse as an outlier event, a blip in the long arc of committed change we are making. This belief triggers a self-indulgent inconsistency – which is fatal for change.