Monday, September 26, 2011

Change! Stop Being Afraid!

To take the red pill, or the blue pill. That was the question facing Neo in the mega-hit movie The Matrix. One pill led down the rabbit hole, where all of his questions would be answered and the life he knew would be gone forever. The other pill led back to his own bed and his old life and he would be left wondering if this had all been a dream. Because he's the hero in our movie, he chose the new life. He chose to leave his old life behind and face the unknowns of a world he'd never experienced before.

How many of us would have had the courage to make such a choice? Not many, I'm afraid. For most people, change is terrifying, sometimes even infuriating. Try changing the location of the coffee machine at your office or if you're feeling particularly brave, try changing the flavor of the coffee. Do both and you're likely to need a police escort to your car! Such a meaningless thing, but it would generate such a large reaction.

People hate change. Is it because they like their lives so much? I don't believe so. I read that Oprah recently had a poll on her website where the question was simply, "Are you happy with yourself". A whopping 75% of those polled responded 'no'. Only 1 in 4 of us consider ourselves to be happy. Isn't that shocking? Isn't it sad?
So should we conclude that people are generally unhappy and that they generally want to stay that way? That doesn't make any sense either. Walk up to any random person on the street and ask them list off the things that are going badly in their life right now and they are almost certain to rattle off a quick list of five or ten things.

So it's not that we're already happy...and it's not that want to be unhappy. There must be something else to this.

I recently read about a scientific study that had been done on mice. Researchers had set up a pedal that the mice would push to get a food pellet. Once the mice had mastered this, the researchers played a cruel, cruel trick on them. They wired the pedal so that it gave the mice a large shock of electricity at the same time it dispensed the food pellet. It shocked the mice every time they went for a food pellet. Reading the results of that study, it appears that the most a mouse ever went back to that pedal was five times. Never did a mouse go for a 6th time. The mice literally starved to death rather than go back and be shocked again (sounds like a horrible experiment doesn't it?).

I think that as children grow to become adults, with regard to change, we are very much like those mice. I think we've learned that trying to change and failing is very painful. I think we've learned that trying to change all on your own is incredibly difficult. I think we've learned that if we announce to the world that we're trying to change, there will be a long line of people looking to tell us why we won't be able to do it and why we're almost certainly going to fail. I think we've learned that because of their own insecurities, people love to point and laugh when they see someone fall short of their goals.

The world is a cruel place and changing requires courage and thick skin. Those are two qualities that many of us just don't feel like we've got. Not today anyway. Maybe tomorrow. No, not tomorrow, but Monday for sure. Or maybe after the holidays or after New Years.

I think at the most basic level, people don't change because of OTHER people. That is a horribly sad reason to continue on a course that has led to unhappiness. Isn't it time to to start making the best decisions for yourself rather than choosing the path with the least amount of risk or the least amount of difficulty?

You CAN change the way you want to change. You CAN be the person that you want to be. Isn't it time you stood up and embraced your true identity? It all starts with a single choice, a single decision. Make that decision today.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why Not Now?

We've had numerous inspiring missions begun over at including people wanting to get in shape, wanting to quit television, reading the Bible in 90 days, drink more water, keep a journal, etc.

Now that we're beginning to gather some data, the thing I'm finding the most interesting is the large number of people who register for an account, and then never do anything with it.  They don't start a mission, they don't begin to encourage others in their mission (which is a great first step by the way), they just seem to disappear.

That's had me wondering a bit.  Are these people who want to start a mission, but just can't quite commit?  I know that I've often been faced with a wave of fear and anxiety when I've had to make a hard decision.  I think that's it.  I think it's pretty darn scary to actually admit out loud "I'm going to change X about myself."  It sure opens up an opportunity for a visible failure...

I suppose, in their head, people weigh their options.  Do I really want to change this?  How badly do I want to change this?  How hard is it going to be?  How much is the sacrifice going to hurt?  And those things lead them to say Nahhh, never mind.  I'll do it later.

But I think that is a mistake.  I think you are valuable enough that you are worth suffering for.  Yes, it's going to be hard.  Yes, there is a chance you might fail.  But don't let a little fear stop you from being the best 'you' that you can! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

5 Tips for Breaking Habits

Last year, when we began researching the concept for loopchange, we did an awful lot of research about the process of changing habits, the methods people had found to be successful and we stumbled across an awful lot of sketchy information.  Also in that time, I was constantly attempting to perform my own case study using myself and some friends who agreed to be voluntary lab rats for the "cause."

Through my own successes and failures, here is what I've found so far:

1 - Committing to a change of some kind is HARD.  Your first battle will be fought before you've even begun.  You can safely expect a barrage of reasons that you can't do it, that the timing is wrong, that next week would be better.  You've got to tell that voice to shut up!  I believe that subconsciously that is our 'fear of failure' rearing its ugly head.  Failing hurts.  Failing publicly can be humiliating.  Our deepest being knows that, and wants to keep us away from such 'risks'

 2 - Write down your goals.  Be specific and include details.  Vaguely defining your goal leads down the path of failure.  How, exactly, are you going to change your diet?  How much TV will you allow yourself to watch?  The more details that are provided, the more likely the person is to succeed.

3 - Accountability.  At loopchange we help to connect you with people who will be holding you accountable.  Don't get me wrong though, our community is made up of people who honestly CARE about your progress.  They aren't checking in on you, waiting to pick, poke, prod and point fingers.  They are checking in on you so that you know your mission is important to them (because it is).  Finding some real world accountability helps a great deal as well.  Tell a friend or a family member what you're doing.  Ask them to help if it looks like you're struggling.

4 - Encourage other people who are trying to change something about themselves.  I cannot stress the value of this step enough.  The word 'encourage' originally, literally meant 'to put heart into'.  To build someone up.  There is a fascinating phenomenon that occurs when we encourage other people - we feel encouraged and stronger ourselves.  It's fascinating, but true.

5 - How long will it take to change?  The only scientific research I've found on the topic says 19+ days (where the + can be 200 or more days).  There is no set answer, but it will take exactly as long as it will take.

Using my own experience, I've come to believe that the commitment, faithfulness, dedication and will to change is very much like a muscle.  As you get a few successes under your belt and build up your confidence a bit, you'll find that you become significantly stronger in those areas.  When you've faced and completed a mission to change something, it will be much easier to tackle something else.  Before you know it, what started as a scary, anxiety filled experience will become something that you are excited about - and you will find that you'll gain so much momentum that you will be changing left and right.

But it all begins with that single step.  You have to find a way to ignore that voice in your head telling you it's not worth it - because IT IS!

Monday, September 12, 2011

5 Tips for Breaking Habits

Everyone struggles sometimes.  Everyone feels like giving up (at least a little) when the going gets tough.  Here are 5 tips that might nudge you back on course. 

  1. Our research indicates that the more detail you give; the more likely you are to successfully complete your mission.  Vague missions are almost never successful.  If you’ve made the mistake of being vague, come on back and get specific in your most current day update.  It is never too late to commit to details.
  1. Have you fallen off of the wagon and skipped a few days?  Don’t worry!  Come on back and pick it back up.  Character is not defined by how many times we fall, but by how many times we get back up.  So get up and get back on track.  You won’t be judged by the loopchange community, you’ll be welcomed back with open arms (I don’t think you realize how important you are over there!)
  1. Incorporate some folks in the real world to help keep you accountable.  Mention to friends or family members what you’re trying to accomplish.  Keeping your mission a secret almost never helps you.  Don’t be afraid, we KNOW you can do this!
  1. Stay focused on sticking with your plan 1 day at a time.  It’s very intimidating to commit to changing something for life.  It’s scary to commit to changing something for a year.  But 21 days, 1 day at a time is do-able.  We promise.
  1. Don’t devalue your importance.  When we’re struggling it is easy to begin to believe “it really wasn’t that important.”  That is another way of saying “I’m really not that important.” That is a LIE.  You ARE that important (and more).  It was important enough for you to commit to, so do yourself the service of sticking with it for 21 days. 
So get back on that horse!  If you haven't started a mission yet, then head over to and start yours today.  It's fast, it's free, it's easy; and you'll be on your way to a new you before you know it.

Have you come with anything the helps you to stick with a new habit?  I'd love to hear about it!