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Challenging the Myth of Do-It-Yourself Behavior Change

Dr. Jennifer Stone is the Founder of Goals Groups International and works closely with HR Intelligence to bring organizational wellness and employee well-being to new levels.  We are pleased to welcome Jennifer as guest blogger.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could change the things in our lives we need to change? We’d eat right, get plenty of exercise, avoid overspending and sleep well. We’d be productive and on-target with our goals. We’d do the things that we know we ought to do.

But here is a fact: human beings are rarely rational and clear headed about the things we are supposed to do.

Most of us prefer immediately gratifying short-term experiences over our long-term objectives.  Our attention jumps from one stimulus to another.  As human beings, we are overly optimistic about the likelihood of success. Without realizing it, we create conflicting goals.

Behavior change is far more difficult than we are led to believe.

Some people are highly motivated by external rewards while others will only perform well when they have the opportunity to define their own reasons why they ought to change.

Where does that leave us?  Fortunately, there is a less well publicized road to successful behavior change. It is goal-oriented group support. In the company of goal-oriented peers who provide encouragement and accountability, people are far more likely to break bad habits and make performance gains. 

Dr. Dean Ornish has proven through his research that being part of a goal-oriented peer support group makes the difference between sickness and health.  It actually lowers rates of cardiovascular disease, depression and other chronic illnesses.  It brings down stress levels. In fact, if you want a pathway to better health overall, writes Ornish, get a goal-oriented peer group.

When others are interested in our goals, believe in us, and hold us accountable, we can push past self-limiting beliefs and habits. Real behavior change becomes possible.