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4 Ways to Overcome Barriers to Change and Make New Habits Stick

4 Ways to Overcome Barriers to Change and Make New Habits Stick

    Will 2012 be a year for change or will you keep doing what you have always done?

    “It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

    Albert Einstein

    Seems obvious, only an idiot would try to keep doing the same thing and expect different results, no? But the truth is I’m guilty of it, my friends are guilty, my family are guilty and I guess each one of you reading this is also guilty of the syndrome. If change were easy we would all be different, more successful, healthier, fitter, stronger, slimmer, more intelligent and definitely more accomplished. But we are not. And here’s the reasons why.

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    Change is difficult.

    Change is uncomfortable.

    Most human beings resist change. The familiar becomes a false sense of security even if it is a bad habit or a behavior that doesn’t serve us. Fear prevents us from moving forward. The “what if” syndrome hits us. What if I lose money? What if it’s the wrong decision? What if I can’t keep it up? I say sod all the negatives,

    Change is necessary,

    Change is good,

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    Change is exciting, it’s thrilling, it’s energizing.

    Life is ever changing, it’s dynamic, no two moments are ever the same. Our bodies are different one moment to the next, so why would we try to keep things the same? Why not embrace the difference, the different emotions, the different experiences that is life?

    Successful Change

    The route to successful change is in the habits we create, it’s achieved by consistent small changes which add up to desired results.

    “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

    Aristotle

    If we are what we repeatedly do, then creating habits of what we want in our lives in the only way to go. But how do we create habits that stick? Most of us will have a New Year’s Resolution or 22 that haven’t quite worked out the way we planned; there are a number of reasons why this can happen.

    1. Lack of planning

    If you want anything to work well it must have a POA (Plan of Action) You need to put some thought into What, When, Why and any other question word you can think of. If you want to create the habit of exercise then you must decide what exercise, what days and for how long before you put your gear on. Failing to plan is setting yourself up to fail.

    2. Trying too much too soon

    When starting a new habit, you need to start small and do it often. If you want to create a habit of writing, the trick is to do a little every day. If you are what you repeatedly do, some day you can become a writer.

    3. Focusing on the wrong thing

    Many people without realizing focus on the wrong thing. Every year I would set the goal to lose weight and every year I would fail. Last year I finally realized why it wasn’t working. I spent a lot of time focusing on my rounded belly and feeling negative about how my diet wasn’t working. One morning in the shower I had an epiphany. I spent my life telling people to focus on the positive and to focus on what they want and here I was spending my time focusing on my the parts of my body I didn’t like instead of focusing on the healthy, strong lean body I was busy creating. I have finally lost the weight.

    4. Lack of Self Belief

    “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

    Henry Ford probably didn’t realize how famous his quotation would become but he knew how true these words were. If you go to the trouble of setting a goal, do yourself a favor and believe in ability to achieve it. If your best friend told you they were going to change this year, this year was going to be different. This year they are going to stop doing what they have always done and do what needs to be done to achieve the changes that they want to achieve. Would you support your friend or would you doubt and discourage them with negative thoughts and words?

    Start being your own best friend start encouraging and believing in yourself. Nurture your attempts with positive supportive words and actions. You can do it this year. You will do it; you just have to believe and you are half way there.

    (Photo credit: Change Just Ahead Green Road Sign via Shutterstock)

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    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

    It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

    Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

    “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

    In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

    New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

    There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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    So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

    What is the productivity paradox?

    There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

    In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

    He wrote in his conclusion:

    “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

    Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

    How do we measure productivity anyway?

    And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

    In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

    But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

    In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

    But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

    Possible causes of the productivity paradox

    Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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    • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
    • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
    • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
    • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

    There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

    According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

    Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

    The paradox and the recession

    The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

    “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

    This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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    According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

    Looking forward

    A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

    “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

    Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

    “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

    On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

    Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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