I Dream of FIRE

In pursuit of financial independence and personal fulfillment

Want to make a change? Make it now

There’s no time like the present to get started on that change you’ve been meaning to make.

No, really. Do it now.

Otherwise, you’re likely just going to keep putting it off.

Let me explain.

The half-life of enthusiasm

In “The Prosperous Coach” by Steve Chandler and Rich Litvin, one of the 18 Fearless Disciplines of coaching is to “Know the half-life of enthusiasm.”

In other words, the excitement that leads to action fades quickly, and if someone doesn’t take action in that brief period of time, they likely won’t take it at all.

This is the same principle Mel Robbins exploits with her 5 Second Rule.

You have a very short window — 5 seconds — from the time you have an idea to do something to take a positive step toward executing on it. Doesn’t matter if that idea is to get up in the morning, go for a walk, work on a project, call your mom, or save 1% more in your 401(k) this year than you did last year.

If you put more than a handful of seconds between that idea and action, the likelihood of actually doing something falls dramatically.

It’s why we have so much trouble making change in our lives. We have to disrupt the comfortable status quo in our brains to make something new happen.

Break the loop

Most of what you do on a given day is not conscious. Your body is simply carrying out one habit loop after another in response to a stimulus. You are a collection of learned behaviors built on top of one another over time.

Psychologist Robert Cialdini calls these “click-whirr” responses, because they play out like a tape recorded series of events triggered by a stimulus (the click). We have mental shortcuts all throughout our daily lives that can either serve us positively or negatively. Unless we recognize these shortcuts, we won’t be able to change them.

(Cialdini’s book “Influence” is a phenomenal look at the principles that feed into these behaviors and how we can use them or recognize when they are being used on us.)

Simply wanting to change isn’t enough. We have to act. We have to disrupt our normal pattern and insert a new response, and we have to do it quickly.

Wired to win

During my mini-retirement, one of the early books I read was Gary John Bishop’s “Unfu*k Yourself,” a review that continues to bring in pageviews every day. I start the review off with this:

“Gary John Bishop makes it clear in no uncertain terms: You are currently living the life you want to live, whether you like it or not.

Bishop says our brains are wired to win, and so we naturally and subconsciously act in ways that support our view of ourselves, even if that view is negative or harmful. Doing so keeps our psyche comfortable because it reinforces what we have experienced in our past that got us to the current day alive. Even if we want more out of life than what we are getting.”

So if you believe you are bad with money or always make dumb financial decisions, you’re going to continue to do things that prove out that belief. You’re going to continue to provide that comfortable response to your psyche, even if you hate the way it makes you feel, because it is familiar and your brain knows how to respond to it with minimal effort.

If you’re truly ready to break out of your familiar patterns, the ones you know aren’t serving you, put the lessons from these three people to use.

1. Recognize that your limiting beliefs are a huge part of why you do what you do and are where you are. They may be holding you back from even starting the things that would lead to real change, and even if you hate that your brain doesn’t.

2. There are behavior loops all throughout your day that you are playing over and over. Recognize the triggers for the loops you want to change, and be conscious about your reaction to them.

3. When you have the inclination to do something smart, important, or positive, don’t wait. Count down from 5 to 1 and do it. If you wait longer than that, the half-life of enthusiasm will surely make it less likely with every passing moment that you will take action.

What positive change do you want to make in your life? Get started in 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 …

2 Comments

  1. Good Morning! Wow, so true. You were speaking directly to me. Thanks!

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