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The Paradox of Behavior Change

Written by Freelancing Writer and Editor : Olayinka Sodiq

Finding stability is the direct tendency of life. Biology refers to that process as homeostasis or equilibrium. For instance, take a look at your blood pressure. Whenever it dips too low, heart rates speed up and digs the blood pressure back into a strong domain, but when it rises too high, the kidneys reduce the level of fluid in the body by letting urine out. All the while, the blood vessels help maintain the balance by expanding as needed. The human body entertains hundreds of feedback loops to keep the blood pressure, glucose levels, body temperature, calcium levels, and a lot of other processes at a stable equilibrium.

Just like the body, there are a lot of forces and feedback loops that sustain the particular equilibrium of our habits. Our daily routines are controlled by the fragile balance between your environment, your tracking methods, your genetic potential, and many others. These forces interact every day, but we barely notice how they shape our behaviours until we try to make a change.

The Myth of Radical Change

Overnight success and radical changes are celebrated in our culture. Some experts are fond of the saying “The common mistake a lot of people make in life is failing to set higher goals.” Or sometimes even tell us, “for massive results, massive action is taken.”

These phrases sometimes sound inspiring. But we fail to realise that any quest for organic growth counters every single stabilising force in our lives. Remember, the direct tendency of life is to find stability. Any moment equilibrium is lost, the system is motivated enough to get it restored.

Virtually everyone who has tried to make a radical change in their life has encountered some form of setback. You eventually find the motivation to stick to a new diet only to find your friends undermining your efforts. The forces in our lives have established our current equilibrium and work to pull us back whether we try to change for better or worse.

In other words, the faster you try to change, the more likely you are to backslide.

The Optimal Rate of Growth

Change is evitable; therefore, it is only confirmable within a relatively narrow window. The moment a company changes course too quickly, and it breaks down in culture and employees often get burnt out. The moment leaders start pushing personal vendetta to the extreme, the nation riots and balance of power is re-established by the people. Alternatively, there is a better way.

When you fight for small wins and focus on one per cent improvements, you push equilibrium forward. It is like muscle building. If the weight is too light, muscles will waste away while when the pressure is too heavy, injury occurs. But if the pressure is just a little beyond ordinary, then the muscles will adjust to the new stimulus, and a small step forward is taken by equilibrium.

The Paradox of Behavior Change

For change to last longer in our lives, fundamental forces must be worked with and not against them. Virtually everything that makes up our daily life has an equilibrium—a particular set point, a regular rhythm at a reasonable pace. Reaching too far beyond this equilibrium, we will be yanked back to the baseline. The best way to acquire a new level of stability is not with radical change, but little wins every day. Changing your life all at once will pull you back into the same previous patterns.

 

 

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