When I was studying for a Ph.D. in Psychology, I felt miserable. Focusing only on research wore me down. I felt a gnawing desire to go out and practice. To apply psychology. I famously (infamously?) decided to quit grad school not just once, but twice in the span of a year. Facepalm.
The second time around I was so embarrassed I didn’t even say goodbye to most of my friends in the program. Why was it so hard to just quit and start working on my career, the first time? Why did I have to prolong the misery?
We’ve known how to help people change for over 30 years. Yet, despite that, most of us struggle to make the changes we want to make in our lives. Even those of us that know the science. One of the reasons change is so hard is because of the psychological principle of loss aversion. The reality is, humans hate losing more than they love winning. A setback will feel 2-3 times more frustrating than a win will feel inspiring.
What does that mean?
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