Extreme Change vs. Incremental Change

For those of you who have read Unlimited Drive, my e-book on motivation for top performers, you will recall that the intro chapter mentions a statistic that approximately 90% of heart patients can’t change their lifestyles for the better, even when the decision is one of life or death.

I recently have come across another article that references this statistic, but found something completely unexpected. They found that forcing patients into extreme change gave significantly better results than slow, steady, and incremental changes. Here’s the key excerpt from the article:

That’s where Dr. Ornish’s other astonishing insight comes in. Paradoxically, he found that radical, sweeping, comprehensive changes are often easier for people than small, incremental ones. For example, he says that people who make moderate changes in their diets get the worst of both worlds: They feel deprived and hungry because they aren’t eating everything they want, but they aren’t making big enough changes to quickly see an improvement in how they feel, or in measurements such as weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. But the heart patients who went on Ornish’s tough, radical program saw quick, dramatic results, reporting a 91% decrease in frequency of chest pain in the first month. “These rapid improvements are a powerful motivator,” he says.

That’s a big reason why 90% of heart patients can’t change their lifestyles but 77% of Ornish’s patients could — because he buttressed them with weekly support groups with other patients, as well as attention from dieticians, psychologists, nurses, and yoga and meditation instructors.

Huh?? Every single research study, case study, and book I’ve read on motivation and psychology shows, very clearly, that we tend to resist extreme change, which is why incremental changes are so effective for long-term goal achievement. I’ve used this step-by-step strategy multiple times in my life and it has ALWAYS worked better for long-term progress. With so much research and anecdotal evidence pointing towards incremental change, I was shocked to see Dr. Ornish’s results with his patients using extreme lifestyle changes. Was there a way to reverse engineer his process?

I decided to investigate further. Continue Reading…

The Dark Side of Tracking Your Goals

Most bloggers (including myself) in the sphere of goal achievement and personal development are quite fond of tracking. They stress the importance of setting up systems to track your progress and measure it frequently. And there is a good reason they recommend this. It works. Very well. Seeing your progress is incredibly motivating, and seeing your progress drop is painful to witness, which gets you back on track quicker.

However, I’m here to talk about the dark side of tracking. The side of tracking that can actually prevent you from achieving your goals. It’s seldom discussed, which is why I feel the need to address it. If you’re someone who diligently tracks your goals, you will benefit from this post.
Continue Reading…