How to get nowhere in 10 easy steps

Last Updated Nov 1, 2011 10:52 PM EDT

Do you ever feel like telling these self-help gurus with their "you can live a better life" nonsense to stick it sometimes? Or your doctor with her "you might want to start exercising" shtick to mind her own business? I don't know about you, but I've had it with people encouraging me to improve, grow, and create a richer life.

I'm most annoyed with Dr. BJ Fogg. He's a big-shot professor at Stanford University who thinks he can help people change their behavior. Sure he's a leading authority in the field (so what?). Yes, he's written books and speaks all over the world on the topic (are we supposed to be impressed?). And yes he is the founder of the Persuasive Technology Lab (whatever). Just because he's come up with a simple and effective playbook that can help anyone change any behavior doesn't mean you need to jump on the self-improvement bandwagon.

If you're as happy as I am with staying stuck, I think you're going to love these ten rules on how NOT to change:

  1. Attempt big leaps instead of baby steps: To remain stuck right where you are, do not violate rule #1. Whatever you do, make certain you do not seek tiny successes -- one after another -- but instead go for huge, life changing behavior changes that will turn your life upside down and wreak havoc on you and your family.
  2. Ignore how environment shapes behavior: Anyone with an IQ over 22 knows that our friends, family, and environment have a huge effect on our thoughts and behavior. So you'll want to avoid encouraging and supportive friends. Here's a little jingle I like to hum on the way to work that may help: "If you want to stay stuck, hang around others who suck."
  3. Try to stop old behaviors instead of creating new ones: This is a sneaky one that if you get wrong, will cause you to make significant life improving change in your life. Instead of focusing on what you want and creating positive changes around that, you should just focus on the things you want to avoid. This will surely guarantee stagnation.
  4. Rely on willpower for long-term change: Willpower . . . you either have it or you don't. It's certainly not something you can improve. So, if you have no willpower, consider yourself blessed. Imagine how little you can accomplish by blaming your lack of progress on something beyond your control.
  5. Blame failures on lack of motivation: If you fail, it must be because you didn't have the motivation to continue. I mean, there couldn't be any other logical reason for your failure other than you were simply not motivated.
  6. Underestimate the power of triggers: According to BJ Fogg, the surest way to change behavior is through effective triggers -- cues or signals to act such as a sticky note with a message, an alarm reminding you to do something, or an object placed somewhere to encourage you to do something. Therefore, you want to remove any and all triggers from your life. For example, don't put your gym bag near the door because it might remind you to workout. Triggers cause change. We no likey triggers.
  7. Believe that information leads to action: You and I know that humans are completely rational beings. Therefore, all you need to do to get moving is get enough information from reading, researching, and analysis. Still hesitant? You just need more information.
  8. Focus on abstract goals more than concrete behaviors: People say "pie in the sky" like it's a bad thing. It's a whole lot better to focus on really abstract and nebulous goals than it is on concrete behaviors. For example, wanting to be in pretty good shape is a much better goal than walking 15 minutes a day.
  9. Seek to change a behavior forever, not for a short time: If you find that you are making too much progress in life, stop focusing on changing your behavior in the short-term. Assume any change you're going to make is going to be life long and that you'll be forced to do it forever.
  10. Assume that behavior change is difficult: This rule is the hardest to follow, because changing your life for the better is actually very simple. But that kind of thinking will have you making progress, so you must convince yourself that it's extremely difficult.
Don't get sucked into the never ending spiral of trying to improve yourself and live a better life. Why? You'll improve one thing and then you'll want to improve something else and then something else and so on. There's just no end to how much progress you'll make. If you are happy that your best days are behind you, follow the ten rules and you'll be guaranteed to stay stuck right where you are.

All sarcasm aside, if you want to change your behavior, be sure to check out the Persuasive Technology Lab's Top 10 Mistakes of Behavior Change.

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    Robert Pagliarini is obsessed with inspiring others to create and empowering them to live life to the fullest by radically changing the way they invest their time and energy. He is the founder of Richer Life, a community of passionate people who want to learn and achieve more in life and at work. He is a Certified Financial Planner and the president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors, a boutique wealth management firm serving sudden wealth recipients and affluent individuals. He has appeared as a financial expert on 20/20, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew's Lifechangers and many others.