why change is so hard? what should i do?

Postby gagamanmu » Sun May 09, 2021 12:52 pm

i have failed to change even after so much effort...from visiting psychiatrist to reading lots of self help books and self experimenting on myself i have been unsucessful in changing myself...i had this dream of one day becoming a totally new person ..overcoming my anxiety and ocd issues..making lots of friends, becoming confident and more social..becoming more productive and skillful in various arts...but i have failed..at the age of 28 years i am still un employed.. struggle with proper social interaction .. feel so lethargic that i wake up past 9 0 clock..not able to concentrate even on simple tasks. that i do...what should i do? **** change is hard...
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sun May 09, 2021 1:24 pm

gagamanmu wrote:...i had this dream of one day becoming a totally new person ...**** change is hard...


I would nudge you to modify "Change is hard," to "Change can be hard."

I've struggled with change in the past, continue to struggle with change, and I expect that in the future it will continue to sometimes be difficult. And I think this is fairly normal for most people, but it is a matter of degrees.

What makes change hard?

Well, we make it hard. I'm not sure why exactly, but we seem to be very good at creating these imaginary future selves and then get disappointed when we realize it isn't going to happen. The huge gap we create between who we are currently and the future can be very demotivating. We make it hard when we establish unrealistic dreams like "becoming a totally new person". WTH? That just sets you up for complete and utter failure.

What has helped me is to focus on small wins and to celebrate the small changes. I focus on things that I can accomplish over the next two weeks. I keep focused on the present and things that I can control.

Within the next two weeks, I bet you could get a job. At age 28 certainly you have some basic skills.
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#2

Postby tokeless » Mon May 10, 2021 5:29 am

I agree with Richard. You are setting the bar way too high. Life is incremental and that's why we have minutes, hours and days. I appreciate they are human constructs but if you take a journey, you can't make it in one huge step, it takes lots of steps and if you try and change how you are each day, with realistic goals you will change. Then change becomes achievable and you move forward. You are trying to change everything and that's going to fail.
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#3

Postby gagamanmu » Mon May 10, 2021 6:45 am

@ Richard at decision skills

Actually i did tried taking small steps also.. but it did not work out for me.. you said something about difference between our future imaginary selves and our present current selves and setting up realistic goals..if so

1. how do i assess my current level so that i could set up realistic goals based on that ? How do i differentiate between what is realistic and unrealistic for me?
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#4

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Mon May 10, 2021 12:47 pm

gagamanmu wrote:1. how do i assess my current level so that i could set up realistic goals based on that ? How do i differentiate between what is realistic and unrealistic for me?


What goals are you finding it difficult to establish a "current level"?

If a goal is to loose weight then you find your current weight by getting on a scale. If you want to get stronger by doing pullups, then you establish your current level by seeing how many you can do.

For the most part, establishing a current level is fairly easy. You establish a "baseline" or take a "pretest".

What is realistic is to set an incremental, short term improvement over the current level. Let's use your "getting up at 9 O'clock". The "current level" might be that you are sleeping 12 hours a day. It is not that hard to determine the current level. There are plenty of ways to track how many hours you sleep each day and to calculate the average.

A realistic goal, then, might be to only sleep an average of 11 hours a day for the next two weeks. Can I achieve this goal? I set my alarm and day after day I fail. I keep hitting the snooze button. After two weeks, I have made zero progress. Having learned 11 hours a day was not realistic, I dial back my goal. For the next two weeks I am going to try to sleep no more than 11.5 hours a day.

Conversely, maybe I achieved my 11 hour a day goal, allowing me to celebrate my success and set a new two week goal of only sleeping 10 hours.

Point being, you can dial in your goals by making small, incremental adjustments. This helps establish a solid foundation of what you currently can achieve, and then you build slowly off the foundation.
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#5

Postby gagamanmu » Mon May 10, 2021 4:01 pm

@richard .. thanks for your advice..but what i find difficult is maintaining the progress i have made... actually i did tried waking up early before and i was able to wake up early at 6 am.. but i was able to continue it for only 2-3 months.. after that i would again resort to my lethargic ways and wake up past beyond 9 am..waking up early itself is tedious chore for me..,i want waking early to be natural and it should take less effort..

in all my efforts to improve and inculcate good habits in me..i was able to continue it only for some months and then i would again resort to my previous ways..eg- l tried controlling my mobile usage time period and i was able to reduce my mobile usage to an great degree..but i was able to continue it only for few months..now i have again resorted to using mobile for large hours..
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#6

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Mon May 10, 2021 6:20 pm

Most people, including myself, routinely find it difficult to maintain progress.

Why?

In my opinion, a big reason is because we try to use brute force, the power of will to inculcate the new habit, while failing to address the underlying structural or fundamental issues. We set goals that target the symptoms, e.g. sleeping in late, while ignoring the root cause(s), e.g. unemployed, or sleeping in a pitch dark room with no access to natural light.

Failing to address root causes, we end up committed to a lifetime of trying to mentally "will" ourselves to repeatedly address the symptom.

A good example is my weight. Since 2012, I've been living mobile, living for several months at time in various countries. What I've noticed is that anytime I'm outside of the United States it is much easier for me to lose/maintain weight. When inside the USA, I tend to gain weight.

My willpower, my desire to be healthy, is the same. What's different? I've figured out two root causes, (1) the availability of food and (2) the social aspects of eating. When alone I don't keep much food on hand, and I am less likely to be invited or to meet up with friends/family for a lunch/dinner. In the USA, food/snacks and opportunities to eat are constant.

What the last paragraph means, is that when in the United States I have to dedicate more willpower to maintaining my weight. It is not easy or fun. It takes effort. I'm in a situation where lack of access to food is not a realistic option. It sucks.

As for sleep, this has been another issue since 2012. Given I work independently, I can sleep as long as I wish. What has worked amazingly well for me is to never use curtains, to sleep in an environment where sunlight wakes me up.

Sunlight, however, was not the only answer. When in Medellin, I stayed for a few months in an area where several days a week social activities kept me up until well past midnight. And on nights that did not involve social activities, I stayed up looking at my computer screen. I found myself waking up at 9a if not later almost every single day.

In Ecuador, not only did I use sunlight, but I committed to meeting a friend down at the beach each morning to go for a walk and a copy of coffee. This helped me to maintain waking up in a manner that was more natural or with less effort. It was the idea that I had a purpose, a commitment to a friend, and the reward of a nice cup of coffee.

The bottom line, it isn't just about setting goals and trying to use brute mental strength to inculcate good habits. Instead, you really need to figure out how you can restructure your environment and set up conditions that give you the best chances of success.

In your situation it sounds like getting a job would help create some boundaries. If you have a job, that helps dictate a sleep schedule and it helps cut down on screen time.
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#7

Postby gagamanmu » Wed May 12, 2021 10:52 am

@ richard thanks for your advice.. so basically instead of just focusing on the symptoms i should also focus on the root causes and environmental factors that are effecting me..,,

i have read about this concept of neuroplasticity where given enough effort for specific time period our brains neural structure could be changed,,i have also read that developing an habit takes around 18 days to 8 months..given i have so many goals to achieve and u talked ab0ut taking small steps -

1. how many goals should i try for at a time?
2. how much time period should i give for my each goals? should it be weeks , days , months?

patience is also an issue for me ..eg--taking small steps for each goal--- giving 3-4 months just for developing this habit of waking up early will probably bore me out in the long run considering the fact that i have so many other goals to achieve like being more social , exercise , diet maintenance etc, it might take years to achieve all my goals
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#8

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed May 12, 2021 2:35 pm

gagamanmu wrote:1. how many goals should i try for at a time?

One. Get a job.

When struggling, I pick a specific, single goal that has the highest potential benefits. For instance, getting a job can be used as a great opportunity to restructure your environment and your routine. Therefore, this single goal can help with getting up late, what you eat, amount of screen time, etc.

2. how much time period should i give for my each goals? should it be weeks , days , months?


Two weeks.

No matter the goal, you want to ask the question, "Within two weeks, what can I accomplish?" You design the goal to focus on the next two weeks, on the next actions for you to accomplish.

This is important. It takes the goal out of fantasy and turns it into reality. It provides a short window of time to drive action. It keeps you focused, allows for feedback, and flexibility.

How many jobs can you apply for within the next two weeks? It is a waste of time, energy, and resources to establish a 5-year goal to be the vice president of sales when you don't yet have the skills necessary to achieve a two-week goal of "get a job".

Another great benefit of two week goals is that it allows you to rack up wins and build your confidence. It gives you concrete feedback of what you are able to accomplish. Granted, it can also be a bit of a blow when you fail, but it is not a huge blow because it was only two weeks. When you fail at a two week goal, it is easier to adjust and try again.

I have set long term goals before. For me, it doesn't work. If I set a long term goal, let's say a goal that might take a year to accomplish, this just allows me to procrastinate. After all, if I've estimated that it will take 365 days, what difference does it really make if it is 365+1? It is easy to just put off the goal again, and again, and again.

it might take years to achieve all my goals


I avoid this mindset. I have found it to be counterproductive. I accept that I cannot predict the future. I have a number of things I would love to achieve within the next few years, but I realize that life happens. We are not omniscient. We are horrible and predicting the future. Did you predict in 2020 a pandemic would shut down the world? I didn't.

Therefore, I don't beat myself up over some fantasy version of my future self and what may or may not be. I focus on short term goals. If I want to climb a hypothetical mountain, I look up the trail two weeks. I pick a spot I can see and try to get there. In two weeks, I reevaluate. Do I still want to climb the mountain? The most likely answer is yes, but what has changed? Maybe I need to adjust my goal.
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#9

Postby bawdyheated » Thu May 13, 2021 5:11 am

Your comments are really interesting. I think that this is really helpful to a lot of us.
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#10

Postby gagamanmu » Sat May 15, 2021 1:30 pm

@ richard thanks for your advice..so basically i need to have short term goals rather than long term one..well i will have to experiment with this approach.. hope it works out..
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