I don’t suppose this is going to be a popular idea but I am writing today in support of the long fix. We live in a world that promises quick fixes, crash diets, self-help books that will change your life, management training courses and so on. Now I am not arguing against the principle of ‘least pain, most gain’. I am questioning whether much of this actually works at all.
To put this into context, I am talking about improvement, which is by definition making a change for the better. Something has to change and stay changed. And I am talking about changes we make to our lives rather than, say, our plumbing system.
We surely know by now that if we go on the latest diet, and then afterwards return to our normal way of eating, the weight will sure enough pile back on. Nothing will change. And so it is with the rest of our life. If we read the book, go on the course, make the promise, but don’t permanently change the way we think and act we will stay just the same. We have to attend to and maintain this attention on whatever it is we want to change. It will eventually become a habit but until it does we have to make an effort to maintain a new discipline.
Let’s consider an example.
I have struggled with poor self-belief for a very long time. I gradually became aware of a number of thoughts that would rush in whenever I was faced with a challenge, and were actually running in the background most of the time. They were vicious thoughts such as ‘you always were lazy’ and ‘you are doomed to failure’. It was hard to take any kind of risk while this was going on in my head. So, I paid attention to my own thinking, and when I started to feel wobbly, scared, when my excuses started rearing up, I listened out for those bullying negative thoughts, and told them to go away. I turned my attention away. And I did it again, and again and again. It took about 6 months. At last I now seem to have retrained my mind. I haven’t heard them for months, and I can get on with the life I want, with the work that I believe will make a difference.
If you really want to make a lasting change, resist the lure of the quick fix and knuckle down, be determined and head for the long fix. It will change your life.