What Does It Take to Have a Breakthrough?

Here are the top three catalysts I’ve found by working with hundreds of clients over the past ten years.

  1. Desire: This is the least powerful of the three. Seeing someone or with a life, a body, or a house and matching car can instill some motivation in us but, this is not a powerful enough driver for most of us to make life-altering behavior changes. Why? Because we can’t see the whole picture, we see only the payoff and leave the cost of obtaining that thing that we want out of the frame, and it’s often not worth the costs and problems that it takes get there. You can’t just want the cake; you have to want to roll the dough and bake the thing too.
  2. Sometimes the way to a breakthrough is through a breakdown. We often take things for granted and don’t truly value them until we lose them. We don’t think much about a sore throat until we have a sore throat, then it’s the ONLY thing we can think about. “I wish that I could water-ski better,” isn’t as powerful as “I miss being able to water-ski.”
  3. Loss-Aversion. This motivator can pair with the breakdown from above. We’ll change A LOT to avoid losing something or going to a place we never want to go again. After a car wreck, I was in a wheelchair and crutches for a year. I buckle up every time I get in the car. I don’t care if it’s a five-minute trip. I’m not going back to the wheelchair if I can help it.  
    1. Evidence: If you offer a group of people $1.40 / day ($42.00 per month) to track their food, you’ll see some results. BUT if you put $42.00 to hold in a bank account and withdraw $1.40 for each day they don’t track, you’ll dwarf the results from the first offer.

All of this ties into “Why are you doing this?” Are you chasing something you desire? Fighting to reclaim something you value? Or doing what it takes to keep what you have now? 

Could you use it like adding jet fuel to your fire by writing it on paper and posting it to your fridge? If it’s going to take some time, post it to your Facebook wall, so in one year, you’ll have a reminder.


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