How are you doing on your New Year’s Resolutions? If you are like me, right about now, it’s becoming harder and harder to remain in that highly optimistic, the sky-is-the-limit feeling that you have the first week of January. All of those wonderful goals and new habits that you want to take hold in your life, are becoming harder and harder to retain. But, don’t give up hope just yet! Change is not easy, but let’s understand what is going on under the hood.
Why Change is Hard
Let’s first understand why change is so hard? The CEO part of our brain makes these very lofty decisions without hesitation, but then our actions say otherwise. What is going on inside our noggin that makes this happen? And the fact that this is such a universal phenomenon, there is no denying this is a human trait. It’s not just you being lazy! Chip and Dan Heath, co-authors of a great book called Switch, How to Change Things When Change is Hard, writes about this uniquely human trait. They describe our minds as being ruled by two different systems–the rational mind and the emotional mind–that compete for control. The rational mind wants every action to be healthy and to have great complexion, a great beach body, and to exercise all the time. The emotional mind “wants that Oreo Cookie” as the author notes. The rational mind wants to change things to benefit their workplace or organization; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine.
Mastering the Elephant
The rational mind is our internal CEO, or the rider on top of the elephant. She who makes lofty decisions and goals in a conscious, matter-of-fact way. The emotional mind is an “elephant” guided by wants and desires that that isn’t thinking in a conscious manner. It’s one thing to make goals, it’s another to steer this enormous elephant who really just wants to eat an Oreo, to do the right thing each and every time. I think the answer is one of moderation, temperance, and not expecting too much too soon. It’s hard to steer an enormous 800 lb elephant all the time – it’s also exhausting. Work toward a middle-ground, keeping that elephant inside happy, but at the same time using your CEO skills to get reach your goals. Let us know how you master your inner-elephant to make the lofty decisions and goals that you want in life!