Change is hard! However, we know that some changes will positively affect the course of our life. So, how can we make change easier or choose the right types of change that will help to support a healthy life?
Did you know that creating a positive change ratio will help to ease the burden of change? The key to the positive change ratio is to make three to four additions or enhancements to support your health for every one reduction or termination of an unhealthy behavior.
For example, if your goal is to make changes in your meal pattern, choose three healthy changes for every one unhealthy reduction:
This is so important because studies show that when people feel a change creates a sense of loss, it can actually have more than twice the emotional impact as an equal gain. Over time, when people feel a continual perceived sense of loss, it can create a fear of loss called loss aversion (Kahneman & Tversky, 1979).
So, think about this when it comes to health behaviors: If we are primarily focusing on troubleshooting strategies to help us to avoid what is unhealthy, we can start to feel restricted and consumed with the burden of being extremely self-controlled to avoid slip-ups. All these terms do not generate a sense of gain, even when we accomplish our goals, and they make us feel an even deeper metal drain when we don’t succeed. This negative mental impact eventually tires us out, and the good behavior changes that we did make are doomed to be reversed.
Altering our vocabulary toward change can become the spark that makes the change last a lifetime. Reframing our goals and using solution-focused words like start, increase, enhance, and develop can engage us in the positive change. Using terms that inspire growth can actually help to sustain the mental energy that we need to succeed in making a change. Creating a higher positive change ratio develops a greater amount of perceived gain in making a change versus a perceived loss. This is why it is so important for us to flip the ratio of troubleshooting strategies to positive solution-focused enhancements—so that we can feel joy, peace, and true satisfaction with all the effort that we have put into creating lasting healthy changes.
- Choose your goal words wisely. The words that you choose are extremely important. In creating health goals, use words like start, continue, support, increase, enhance, and develop the majority of the time. Avoid making goals that use the terms stop, decrease, avoid, dodge, and prevent.
- Use the three – to – one ratio. Each week, make sure that your health goals have at least a three- to-one positive change ratio. Choose goals that will help you to create positive, healthy habits verse taking away unhealthy habits.
- Write down your goals. Write down three positive healthy eating goals that you can succeed in today.