I have seen many people go on a diet. They looked great as a result of their weight loss. They worked hard and achieved their goals through exercise and diet. The problem is pretty much all of them went right back to their original weight and fitness levels a year or less after achieving their goals. Getting to your goal is only the beginning of your journey. maintaining that level is the true challenge. The challenge will be with you for life.
The tendency of the body to seek and maintain a condition of balance or equilibrium within its internal environment, even when faced with external changes – dictionary.com
The property of a system within the body of a living organism in which a variable, such as the concentration of a substance in solution, is actively regulated to remain very nearly constant – wikipedia.com
Think salinity of the ocean. The sun evaporates water making the ocean more salty. It rains diluting the salinity. There is an average salinity – the ocean homeostasis level of salt.
In statistics, regression toward (or to) the mean is the phenomenon that if a variable is extreme on its first measurement, it will tend to be closer to the average on its second measurement – wikipedia.com
Sometimes you will have good days, sometimes you will have bad days. But your days average out.
Homeostasis suggests there are forces working to return the metric back to a naturally occurring point. Regression to the mean states that at the time you observed the condition, it was at an anomalous point and will return to a more normalized point in the future. Or was outside the normal at the time of measure.
One can also push a heavy object up a hill only to have it roll back down to the bottom once they stop exerting force on the object. Many ways to describe the same thing – you attempt to change something but once you stop exerting the force, it returns to its homeostasis. So how does one maintain their level of success?
A well known example if the homeostasis problem is weight loss, however there are many other examples of this. Working towards a business goal as an entrepreneur, getting good grades as a student, and saving money for retirement are other examples.
In order to maintain the level of success you have achieved, you must change to a new normal. Move the homeostasis to a new point. There are many techniques that can do this. Habits and auto pilot are two main strategies that I have discussed in previous podcast episodes.
Use your control system to drive your behavior to a new homeostasis. Shifting your set-point. Refer to previous podcast episode on closed loop feedback control system.
You create your own identity. If you want to shift your set-point you need to change your identity. If you identify yourself as athletic and one who eats well, you will choose behaviors that enforce that identity/model.
Mini habits can help maintain identity and momentum. Will power is limited and can’t sustain a new behavior. This is why you must shift your set-point. You can do so with autopilot and systems. This is a lifestyle change. Most people are not able to change who they are at their core, but on rare occasions this can happen with life changing experiences. Divorce or a death in the family are negative examples. Changing career, going to school, or moving are positive examples. However these events alone are not enough to permanently fix your set-point to the new location. You must evaluate where you are and where you want to go. Look for behavioral triggers and avoid them or re-program how you react to the triggers. Create new autopilot behaviors that steer you in the desired direction.
Headwind and tailwind biases. Asymmetric bias.
It’s easy to be driven to achieve a goal, but much harder to be driven to maintain once that goal is reached.