Change Exercise

May 18, 2023

I receive a weekly newsletter from Jesse Itzler, a serial entrepreneur and speaker who has a unique and compelling take on many topics.

In a recent newsletter, he took readers thru a quick exercise to illustrate an innate human instinct. I’m about to put my own spin on this same exercise to reiterate the point Jesse was trying to make.

You ready? Here we go – take a minute and answer this question:

How could you make your financial habits and routines different?

No really, give it some time. Give it some real thought. Perhaps go so far as to jot down a few changes you would make.

Now take a look at your list. Did you focus on ways to make things different – or are all your items ways to make it better. My guess is that your list is strongly biased towards improvements – not ways to make it different by doing less or achieving worse results.

If this was the case, you are certainly not alone. In recent research studies (asking questions similar to the one above), around 90% of people answer these types of questions only with ways in which things could be improved (even though the questions specifically ask how things could be different – NOT better).

These studies have been conducted across different demographics, languages, structures, and subjects and the results remain shockingly consistent across all these variables. These studies clearly indicate that we as humans have a natural tendency (and innate bias) towards improvement. We are hard wired for positive forward momentum.

While this can be viewed as a great human trait (indicative of positivity, hard work, and a natural instinct to seek out more), it also highlights why it’s difficult for people to feel satisfied with their current state, and their lives in general. Simply put, we always believe that things could be better.

I certainly fell for this exercise and reside squarely in the 90% of respondents! When I did this exercise, I had a list of ten items before I stopped myself. Every item was geared towards ways to be better – not different – better. And when I analyzed my reaction and responses, I realized this is really my default setting in a lot of areas of my life.

I’m always looking for ways to improve and generate positive forward momentum. Sure, this could be viewed as a beneficial disposition but it may also indicate that perhaps I’m not giving myself enough credit for what I have already achieved. My guess is that a lot of you reading this feel the same way.

So for today, perhaps we all just take a moment to be proud. Proud of what we do well. Proud of who we are. Proud of what we’ve accomplished. Proud of our current financial state. Proud of the constructive habits we already have in place. Could we do things differently? Sure. Could things be better? Likely. But knowing that we are literally hard wired to feel that way, it’s worth at least considering that our current reality may already be pretty wonderful.

Onward we go,

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