Four Dangerous Words

by DavalosMcCormack on May 12, 2009

Warren Buffet, the world famous financial whizz and philanthropist, says the four most dangerous words in investment are “This time it’s different”. Considering the miserable state of the economy those are words we should all have paid attention to.

But they don’t just apply to investing. The same could be said for most lifestyle changes.

Think about how many times you have said to yourself, this time it’s different

  • This time I’ll lose weight
  • This time I’ll stick with my exercise program
  • This time I’ll quit smoking

Each time you start out with the same good intentions, and each time you end up the same way, by failing. One woman I know calls it, the definition of insanity – you do the same thing over and over and each time expect a different result. She’s right, it is crazy.

So how can you make sure that this time it will be different?

Well, you can start by looking back at all the previous times you have tried to make a change in your life and see if you can spot any trends, any recurring themes that could help explain why you didn’t succeed.

Perhaps you started out too quickly and tried to do too many things at the same time – such as dieting and exercising and giving up smoking all at once. Perhaps you tried to make too big a change, instead of taking things in smaller, more manageable, steps. Perhaps you just weren’t ready to make a change but felt pressured by other people or outside forces – you needed to lose weight for an upcoming wedding or high school reunion.

Whatever the reason, identifying what went wrong last time can help you avoid it this time.

Set a realistic goal. Don’t try and do more than you are capable of. If you have a lot going on at work and home life is crazy busy too then don’t add to that burden by trying to make sweeping changes in your personal life. That’s just setting yourself up for a fall.

So be honest with yourself, set a goal you know you can achieve. Succeeding with that one goal will give you the confidence to try another one.

Plan ahead. Don’t just jump in and hope for the best. Figure out what you want to do and develop a strategy for doing it. For example if you want to cut down on the number of cakes and cookies and sweet things you eat then make sure there are none – or at least very few – lying around the house to tempt you in moments of weakness. And there are always moments of weakness.

Get support. Tell your family and friends what you are trying to do and get them to help. That can be something as simple as colleagues at work not having a bowl of candy out all day every day, so you don’t feel tempted. Or it can be having a friend or partner going for a walk or run with you several times a week – joining in your exercise program and helping encourage you to follow through with it.

Now, those are not guaranteed methods, but each one will help increase the odds that this time you will succeed, that this time, it is different.

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