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The Myth of Radical Change: Why Small, Incremental Changes are the Key to Success

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The natural tendency of life is to find stability. This is a concept known as equilibrium or homeostasis, and it’s something we see in biology all the time. For example, when your blood pressure dips too low, your heart rate speeds up to bring it back up to a healthy range. Similarly, when your blood pressure rises too high, your kidneys work to reduce the amount of fluid in your body, bringing your blood pressure back down to a normal level.

But it’s not just our bodies that strive for equilibrium – our daily lives do too. We all fall into patterns and habits, and over time, we settle into our own version of equilibrium. These patterns are governed by a delicate balance between our environment, our genetic potential, and the ways in which we track and measure our progress. And as time goes on, this equilibrium becomes so normal that it becomes invisible – we don’t even realize how it shapes our behaviors.

This is why trying to make a big change in our lives can be so difficult. The myth of radical change and overnight success is pervasive in our culture, but it’s important to remember that the natural tendency of life is to find stability. When we try to step too far outside the bounds of our normal performance, nearly all of the forces in our lives will be working to pull us back into equilibrium.

In the words of martial arts master George Leonard, “Resistance is proportionate to the size and speed of the change, not to whether the change is a favorable or unfavorable one.” This means that the faster we try to change, the more likely we are to backslide. The very pursuit of rapid change dials up a wide range of counteracting forces that are fighting to pull us back into our previous lifestyle.

So, what’s the solution? How can we make sustainable changes in our lives without running into resistance and backsliding? The answer lies in understanding the optimal rate of growth.

Just like an athlete who trains too hard will get sick or injured, or a company that changes course too quickly will see its culture break down and employees get burnt out, we too must strive for a balance. Change is possible, but it’s only sustainable within a narrow window.

This means that we need to be mindful of the rate at which we’re trying to change. Instead of taking massive action and trying to change everything at once, we should focus on small, incremental changes. By making small, consistent progress over time, we can slowly but surely move towards our goals without running into resistance.

So, if you’re looking to make a change in your life, remember that the natural tendency of life is to find stability. Don’t try to change too quickly or too drastically – instead, focus on small, incremental changes that you can sustain over time. And don’t be discouraged if you hit roadblocks along the way – it’s all part of the process.

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