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Barriers to long term change (and how to overcome them 6)

This is the sixth and last article on the theme of obstacles to success. Hopefully it will have brought you some insight into your thought processes and how they can affect your ability to see change through to the success point.

How a lack of knowledge is a hurdle to better health

To be lacking in specific knowledge is not the same as being stupid. Consider a musical conductor. S/he must have a working knowledge of all the instruments in the orchestra. The skills required for such a job can only be built up over years, perhaps decades, of dedication and practise, peaking with each new challenge that s/he has the opportunity to lead. No-one can say that this is not a committed and serious person at the forefront of their field. This job cannot be replaced by someone brought in from the street.

Now imagine a surgeon. Similar decades of toil and effort have been exerted into this career. Each successful operation has increased the value of the surgeon in terms of dexterity, experience and confidence.

Two superstars at the top of their field, equally recognised for their brilliance. Both have dedicated their lives to the advancement of their expertise. Both have brought joy to many and both are recompensed to a similar value as a result.

So, if both are equal in their regard, in their brilliance, confidence and expertise, would you go to a concert which was conducted by the surgeon? Or receive surgery from a world famous conductor?

This example demonstrates the difference between ignorance and stupidity. We can be ignorant of a subject, have little knowledge or comprehension, but this is changeable simply because we are capable of learning. While the conductor may never make the best surgeon and vice versa, both could take action, could grasp at least something about the others’ job.

When choosing where to begin with health changes a little education is necessary. To launch into a big life overhaul without understanding what you need to achieve and why you’re doing it is to plan for defeat. This is the world where a new diet is started every Monday, where futile gym memberships are paid up each month and where losing three dress sizes in a month seems reasonable. It’s the world where long term change fails.

We discussed earlier how fearing the cycle of failure prevents many people from starting a fitness routine or diet, convinced that they would fail because of bad experiences in the past or because they heard the small voice from their childhood saying they couldn’t manage. This same fear stops many from adequately researching their goal and putting the steps in place to make the goal achievable. Part of making change stick is to plan ahead, to prime yourself for success. Just as you wouldn’t let the orchestra conductor operate on you – or at least not without a lot of retraining – don’t make goals without the necessary information. Make yourself an expert in your goals.

To achieve this expert status, be clear about the quality of your learning. If your eye is drawn to the bulging muscles of a personal trainer ad on Facebook at midnight it may not be the most valuable resource. Use whatever methods you can to be sure of quality information and guidance. Look for referrals from friends who have made health changes, from your GP, health professional or directly from the NHS. Don’t be swayed by quick fixes, instead take ownership of your health and the methods by which you will improve it.

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