Why We Fail To Create The Change We Really Want

18th June 2020

We’re creatures of habit.

Our lives and our results are a reflection of our habits.

Our habitual thoughts, feelings and actions.

We may think we’re making conscious choices as we go through our days but we’re fooling ourselves to believe this.

95% of our thoughts and actions are habitual.

So, to create change, we must change our habits.


Trying to change our habits and behaviours at the level of the habit or behaviour sets us up for an almighty battle. One that usually ends in defeat!

What is a habit?

Simply put, it’s a behaviour we engage in unconsciously. (One that’s driven by our subconscious).

Habits we may consider ‘bad’ typically give us instant gratification without any immediate downside.

On the other hand. the habits we may consider ‘good’ typically don’t give us any immediate upside.

(Or at least not beyond experiencing the fleeting effects of some ‘happy hormones’).

Add in the fact that we humans are notoriously poor at evaluating the long-term consequences of our short-term choices and it’s easy to see how we get sucked into ‘bad’ behaviours which subsequently become ‘bad’ habits….

Which then lead us down a path towards a destination point we would not consciously choose for ourselves.

To make a shift, we must learn how to delay instant gratification.

And doing this invariably means being committed to playing a longer term game.

A game focused on growth vs comfort.

A game which involves learning how to consistently and habitually make the ‘right’ in-the-moment decisions.

Such as gym vs. snooze button.

Such as sales call vs. check email or other distraction tactic.

Such as no cake thanks vs. yes please!

Such as do it now vs. do it later, maybe never.

The challenge we have in playing this game is in not understanding we need 3 things to win.

By this I mean 3 things beyond DESIRE and DECISION.

What are they?

1. Intellectual awareness. This is almost always a given. Intellectually we know what we should or shouldn’t do to do better than we’re doing.

We know we have a “knowing:doing” gap.

The problem is we’re not doing what we know.

This is because intellectual awareness doesn’t support behaviour change.

2. Emotional involvement. Often triggered by the fear of a negative consequence versus an emotional involvement with a desired result, this second element actually does support behaviour change.

For example we may get emotionally involved with the consequences of not meeting our sales target this month.

And the fear of this moves us into action.

The problem is that such behaviour change is often temporary.

Meaning results are temporary too!

3. Identity shift. It’s the absence of this third component which explains why most attempts to create big changes in our lives ultimately fail.

If we’re to put new ‘in the moment’ decisions, new habits, behaviours and results on auto-pilot, we MUST make a corresponding identity shift.

We must align our internal ‘self-image’ with the desired behaviours and results as opposed to with the current behaviours and current results.

Because, the simple truth is we can never out-perform our own self-image!

A smoker who ‘gives up’ smoking will always experience a prolonged battle of resistance unless they shift their identity to being a non-smoker.

And more often than not, they’ll return to smoking…… sooner or later……. because willpower is not a reliable long-term resource.

A £100K a year salesperson aiming at earning £200K may have a great month or quarter in which it looks like they’ll hit a home run.

BUT then ‘something happens’ to bring them back in line with their usual results.

It may be easy to blame external things for this but they’re never the real reason.

If we want to create change, we’ve got to own it.

The real reason in this example would be that the £100K a year salesperson didn’t shift their subconscious self-image to being a £200K salesperson!

The truth is that we’ve got to accept responsibility and be prepared to change on the inside if we want to experience change on the outside.

And this means shifting our identity.

The inescapable truth is we need to become the person we want to be on the inside before the results show up on the outside.

Because results follow identity, they do not precede.