Why Changing Yourself Is The Hardest Thing You Can Do?

Alexander Krivitskiy- Unsplash

Success is not hard to achieve if you understand what success is, and more importantly, how to measure it.

From getting up in the morning till sleep at night, we all strive for success. For some, it's a successful day being able to wake up, for others, it's keeping warm, not going hungry or having enough money in the bank to live their perceived successful life.

It's all about measurement.

Don't worry; this article isn't some nihilistic story. It's about how we can accurately understand how we all, regardless of situations, can, in 100% of situations be successful.

It's all in the measurement.

How we measure the degree of success?

By applying situation awareness, we can understand the circumstances we are presently in. Look at the things you enjoy (the success) and the things that you don't (the improvements).

What does success mean to you? It should mean looking at the improvements and advancing them; continuously until you have reached a level that you deem to be successful. It may be that; as you are on this journey, the goal changes, quite possibly instead of aiming for a goal, you instead start to implement a system.

Systems are always better than goals, but that's another topic for another day.

I agree this sounds like a normal BS self-help generic: “you can do everything” book. But where this is different; we are going to apply some actual objective assessments and attach real usable systems, that anyone can implement.

Really, ask yourself what does success mean to you:

A couple of suggestions are:

  • Weight Loss to a point where you are happy
  • Stopping bad habits
  • Getting your finances in order
  • Changing jobs
  • Becoming freer

How can you improve your situation by just 1%?

1% I hear you say is nothing, and you are right. In isolation, 1% is a minute step change. But over every single hour of each day, it all adds up.

So how do we do it?

Plan

Nothing will come to fruition without a plan. It doesn't need to be complex, nor convoluted. It could just be a simple list of actions that you need to do in the day. Plan accordingly, start with the success and work backwards.

Let's take weight loss as an example:

Being an engineer, I like to assess everything objectively. After all, subjective assessments are just that—subjective, open to interpretation, and hence inaccuracies. We can weigh ourselves, calculate what percentage of body muscle, fat, and everything else in between; because this is an objective assessment based around actual data, it's far easier to build success off than merely stating “I am fat”.

But before we weigh ourselves, we need to get a plan. It’s not always necessary to make a plan before we have all the data around us, but for this example, we will.

Let's say for example's sake we are at a bodyweight of 83kg, a height of 183cm and a body fat percentage of around 20% (lockdown has been hard on us all, you can get body fat approximate calculator’s off the internet).

Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

After a bit of searching on the internet, (looking at those chiselled abs in google images) we want to get to a body fat percentage of 10%; our level of success, and because we have applied an objective data set to this level of success we can make a precise plan around it.

We have our plan (or at least an outline of it).

Let's work out some numbers: Contrary to popular belief, weight loss is not actually dark art and witchcraft. It is merely a simple calculation; if more is coming out that going in, we have a negative delta or otherwise known as a deficit. This is the way to lose weight. Eat fewer calories than you are burning. And because calories are a measure of energy, we know from thermodynamics that we all learned about in school (I never paid attention either) that energy is transferred; being used by our bodies.

In our above calculation of percentages, we have 10% of fat that we want to lose, 10% of 83kg is 8.3kg. Because we know that fat has a calorific value of 7770 calories per Kg we can start to figure out what 8.3Kg of fat costs in calories:

8.3 x 7770= 64,491 calories

We have our goal of success value. It's 64,491, but at the moment it is just a number. How do we actually apply it to something tangible?

From more online calculators we can calculate our resting calorie daily ‘burn’-a resting calorie usage for a male at 83kg is 2500 calories, if we were to add a daily gym session (at 500 calories burned), we would be looking at a combined total daily usage of calories of (approximately) 3000 calories.

The final number we need is our daily limit of calorie intake. Now, full disclaimer here, I am an engineer, I am not a nutritionist, this number will be different for each individual.

And for f*ck’s sake; don't piss around with your health too much. We only get one life; we are discussing how to improve it, not damage it.

Let's have a conservative figure of 1500 calorie intake a day. That means that we have a deficit, daily of 1500 calories.

We divide our above number of 64,491 by 1500 giving us 42 days.

That means that it is entirely possible to reduce body fat (as long as you eat the correct food and exercise correctly) to a level that we deem ‘success’ in 42 days.

42 days, doesn't sound like a long time. But it requires action; after planning, we need to:

Do

This is the hard part; we have completed our plan. Now comes the hard work, the doing. The benefit is that because we are working off our 1% rule, it is totally achievable.

Because we have a plan, we know which direction we need to travel in, we know the parameters that we need to work within, and because we have the numbers, we can achieve success.

Without numbers or a plan, its impossible to act, or “Do” simply because we don't know how fast to travel nor in what direction. Similarly, without some hard work and determination “Do’ing” is also laborious.

It’s a fine balancing act, and this is where the 1% comes in. It's not going to be every day where you have the energy to go to the gym or run down the street. It's not going to be every day that you stay under your calorie threshold, but as long as you work towards that 1% improvement daily, you are on the right track.

Check

Checking is the easy bit in the process. After doing, we need to check regularly to ensure that we are indeed sticking to our plan. Checking can come in many forms. But again, use data to check. There is no point putting effort into doing if you are not checking using data, and gain data in the same way that you used to produce the plan. This way, you can be sure that you are on track with your progress.

Remember the 1% here, as long as you are maintaining that tiny improvement consistently; you are on the path to success. Its small gains that add up to something large.

So what about if you are not?

Adjust:

If you are far off target or are not on the correct trajectory that you based your plan off, if the results from the above checks you are making are not acceptable enough to put you on the trajectory of success, then you need to alter your plan accordingly.

Change something, don't worry too much about changing plans Plans are there to be changed, and as long as you are methodical in your planning, doing and checking, the adjusting is easy.

If we continue along with our example of weight loss, we may need to just our plan to accommodate 250 calories a day deficit, or accommodate more or less exercise sessions a week. It doesn’t necessarily matter as long as you are working in the correct direction. Remember the 1% improvement compounded can turn into great dividends.

The key?

The secret to using the above system is to rinse and repeat. The Plans Do Check Adjust cycle is just that.

In engineering it’s called the PDCA cycle and it’s an important tool used in all aspects of engineering quality. It’s one of the first and most widely implemented tools when improvement is required.

PDCA

Plan

Do

Check

Adjust

Rinse and repeat, success, in whatever area of life or engineering is sure to follow on.

If you liked this topic of applying engineering quality tools to improving all aspects of your well-being. Be sure to sign up for continuous improvement topics here.

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George Tewson

George Tewson

George previously senior quality manager from Jaguar Land Rover in Asia Pacific and China. Now runs the auditing and supply chain analysis company; Merchsprout