Have you ever wondered about how well people fare in the future when you hear they’ve lost huge amounts of weight in a short period of time? (Think: The Biggest Loser). Often you’ll see follow-up stories about them and learn that they’ve gained all the weight back—sometimes more.
How and why does that happen? Why aren’t these people who’ve experienced massive change for the better able to keep the weight off?
My belief is that rapid change almost never takes permanent hold. It’s similar to lottery winners who end up flat broke only a few years after winning millions of dollars. Some of them go from near poverty to great wealth but never learned how to manage money before their amazing windfall. If they weren’t able to manage their small paycheck well, why are we be surprised when they mismanage millions?
People who lose weight quickly did so by radically cutting their food intake and extreme workouts. They didn’t build and reinforce new habits in the process because their focus was simply dropping the weight fast. When they reached their ultimate goal they were left completely unprepared. No mechanism existed to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Small Changes Pay Large Dividends
When working toward major life change we would be wise to look at life like a long term investment. The best investors are the ones who don’t let the daily ebb and flow of the stock market send them into a panic. A smart investor has diversified their money and sticks it out for the long haul, knowing the market always bounces back eventually so they’ll get huge returns for staying the course.
There’s something to be said for focused intensity, but don’t make the mistake of equating it with rapid change. Rapid change does not account for behavior change—the most crucial element that must be present for long term life change.
Let’s say someone wants to lose 100 pounds. If they focus on losing just two pounds a week, not only have they set a far more attainable goal, they are also setting themselves up for success through intentional habit modification. If they stay on track, they’ll reach their goal in just under a year while solidifying new lifestyle choices along the way.
Sudden transformations also don’t allow you to properly keep track of your goals. Good goals always allows for measurement along the way. In the weight loss example above, while our subject’s ultimate goal is to lose 100 pounds, it’s broken up into easy-to-track increments of two pounds a week. This allows them to chart their progress moment-by-moment as well as over the long term.
It’s All About Incremental Change
The reason I eventually settled on the name The Incremental Life for this blog was due my own life experiences. When my wife and I got serious about getting out of debt we followed Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps. When I lost about 60 pounds a few years ago, it was as a result of making small changes in my eating and exercise habits over the course of several months.
I’ve seen first hand how making small, intentional changes can produce huge results.
Repeat this mantra after me:
Incremental steps in an intentional direction over a long period of time produce huge results.
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What are some small changes you can begin making in your life that will lead to massive turnarounds in the future?
Also published on Medium.
I’m Jeff M. Miller, and I help ordinary people who are stuck in a rut change their behaviors so they can be extraordinary. I’m an entrepreneur who retired from my full-time job in my early 40s to work from home. I’m a financial counselor, life coach, graphic designer, and passionate believer in helping others improve their lives a little more each day.
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