The average ads for weight loss plans makes success sound easy. The same is true for fitness plans. Or for anything that promises to help you accomplish an extremely difficult goal -- like changing careers, starting a business... or even becoming a self-made millionaire.
Why do they claim success be easy? A revolutionary new strategy. A groundbreaking discovery. An ingenious hack. Whatever it is... the success you've dreamed of will finally be easy.
Which of course sounds great -- and sells a lot of plans and programs -- because "easy" is nearly as tempting as "free."
Or not: According to science, saying it will be easy to accomplish a difficult goal -- and believing it will be easy to accomplish a difficult goal -- is the worst thing you can do.
New research on long-term weight loss includes a surprising revelation. When participants were told how hard it is to lose weight and keep it off... when participants were told that maintaining the self-control needed would be really hard... they actually maintained greater self-control.
And not only lost more weight, but kept it off.
Which is why these are the two most important words you can use when you try to accomplish a huge:
Granted, saying it's hard seems counterintuitive. Telling someone else that a challenge is hard might only serve to discourage them. Telling yourself that a challenge is hard is likely to discourage you from even starting.
Emphasizing that losing weight is difficult may actually help people cope with the mental challenges that naturally occur. As the researchers write,
"Rather than acting as cheerleaders giving facile encouragement, leaders of weight loss groups might serve their clients better by providing a more sobering description of the challenges participants face. Questioning the usefulness of building self-control skills... may have bolstered the very capacity it was meant to downplay -- stronger self-control with regard to food."
Tell me that doing something hard will actually be easy naturally leads to unrealistic expectations.
When times inevitably get tough -- as times always do -- I'll quit. It was supposed to be easy.
Tell me that doing something hard will actually be hard... that I might not have what it takes to accomplish it... that it will require more of me than I might possibly be able to give... and when times inevitably get tough, I'm prepared. I knew it was coming. "Hard" is an expected part of the process.
And I'll be much more likely to stay the course -- if only to prove that what you thought about me was wrong.
The next time you encourage someone to do something difficult, don't sugar-coat the effort involved. Don't claim it will be easy, or simple, or painless.
The same holds true when you decide to take on a huge challenge. Don't try to convince yourself it will be easy. Admit it will be hard. Embrace the fact the road will will be hard.
That way, when times get tough, when you think you've done all you can... you won't mind as much.
Because you knew it would be hard.
And because you get to prove to yourself that it's not too hard.
Not for you.