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Have you ever been in a work meeting where a big decision was finally made?  Perhaps the team came to consensus on next steps and even a basic plan on how to move forward. Then, in the upcoming weeks, nothing happened. Nothing changed and at the next meeting you were back to discussing a new problem.

Just the ACT of making a decision can lead to a sense of relief, which feels good, but can be deceiving.After pondering options for a while, our brains may interpret the decision as the END of the work (“Whew, glad that’s done!”), when in fact, making a decision usually means the work is only just beginning.

Tony Robbins summed it up nicely when he said, “A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.”

While it can feel good to make a decision, especially after wrestling with it for some time (e.g., returning to school, writing a book, starting a job search), we can easily be seduced by the feeling associated with the decision-making and forget that true change comes with the ACTION, not the decision.

This is partly why so many New Years’ resolutions fall apart by early February.  Unfortunately, effective change usually takes many actions performed consistently over time. One intense workout won’t result in abs of steel.

Change is hard. Our biology actually works against us. There’s a part of the brain that thrives on habit, which is a survival mechanism designed to keep us safe.  So, in modern society where the threats of our caveman ancestors are few, we need to actively fight our habits (aka, our comfort zone) to change.

But, our biology is not an excuse.  Once we know the force we’re up against, we can come up with a plan to overpower it.  Here are a few strategies:

–       Make one habit change at a time.  Incorporating several changes simultaneously can overwhelm the system and cause all of them to fail.

–       Plan specifically how you’ll fit the new action into your current routine.  While any change will take effort, the less you can interrupt other areas of your life, the easier a new activity will stick.

–       Engage an accountability coach.  Social support is a magic ingredient, which can lead to success in many areas of our lives.  Identify your resources and specifically how they can assist you.

So, what changes are you looking to implement?  Feel good about the decision and then fight biology to take action and make it happen.

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