"Nothing changes, if nothing changes." I don't know where that quote is from, but I've been using it for a long time with clients, friends, and myself. I''ll be discussing change not only pertaining to eating healthier and exercising consistently, but change related to quitting smoking, going to bed earlier, ending toxic relationship patterns, overspending, etc. Plug in any change you want to see happen or have been struggling with as you read along!
When thinking about that thing you want to change, how do you feel? How would your life look if that change occurred? Visualize the domino effect that would follow after that change happened...
You should still be visualizing! Before I get into my list of reasons of why change is so difficult, I want to emphasize how important visualizing what you want is. Listen to the crazy ideas you have in the shower. Write down the things you're passionate about even if they seem far fetched. Holding onto these will help paint a clearer picture of what you want and help you make the changes needed to get there.
Take a look at some of the main reasons we all struggle with change and what to do about them:
1. You attach your failures to being a failure as a person
This one is huge. You said you were going to quit/stop/begin doing the thing you set out for yourself. Then you fail. A mistake happens that you either didn't see coming or saw it coming but felt powerless in the moment to stop it. Now you feel like a failure.
You are not a failure because you fail. Your failure/s is a result of a culmination of things that do not reflect who you are as a person, your heart, passion, and worth. You are not a failure because you fail.
Not only are we incredibly unforgiving of ourselves and our flaws, but we set the bar so high for what we think we need to look like, be like, and accomplish. With those high expectations, we allow a failure to determine how we view ourselves. We are allowed to make mistakes and also allowed to forgive ourselves for them.
We attach so many expectations to the desired outcome, that we don't learn about ourselves during the process. This is the perfect time to learn about how you function. What things motivate you and what things don't? Are you really tough on yourself? If so, why do you think that is?
"If only I had ___ "or "as soon as I ___" then I could: start dating, get that new job, feel better, be happier, start working out, make more friends and the list continues. All this implies that only when you reach your goal, only then will you be worthy of having the things you want in your life. Therefore if you don't, you aren't worthy of being happy. You feel unworthy period. Please stop associating your self worth with attaining a certain goal. Of course reaching a goal is a great way to boost your self esteem. But letting that dictate your self worth is detrimental and won't help you in the long run.
2. You rely on "willpower"
Willpower is the match that lights your fire, but steadily and consistently fanning the flames will make change last. The idea of willpower is, to me, a myth. I can't tell you how many times I have heard people tell me they "know what to do, they just have to do it." Waiting for willpower to "do it" almost discredits yourself. You have to be strategic and be honest with yourself. Dig deeper to find what's below the surface of the goal you'd like to achieve. Don't try and be something or someone you aren't - at least not all at once. Rely on other's for inspiration, not for a model to duplicate. Always plan ahead and plan for for the unexpected. After you've planned ahead? Plan more. You will have to keep putting in the effort to maintain that change for as long as you'd like to see it stick.
3. You go at it alone
Ask for support! You will be amazed by the amount of love people have to give. When they give it, be OK with receiving it. Be clear about what you need and how much you need of it. If receiving support is something that makes you uncomfortable, even more reason to practice it. Maybe you're still learning what you need to reach your goals. Make that clear as well. Make new friends or join a meet up group for people who share similar goals. Whatever you do, do not expect long term success trying to do it all by yourself. If you do have others supporting you, make sure there are healthy boundaries so you can avoid when ...
4. You have others bringing you down
Someone you are close to starts to notice that you are taking more time for yourself, and they don't like it. Instead of saying anything, they'll be passive aggressive and might pick a fight, act standoffish, or even try to manipulate you by making you feel guilty. Enough of that shit. Your significant other, parent, friend, or whomever is feeling insecure, wants the focus you're giving yourself to shift to them. You taking care of you is placing the spotlight on something they aren't comfortable with. So what can you do? Talk to them about it before their behavior continues further. Express in a healthy way what you need from them in order for you to make the changes you want. Also let them feel safe with talking about their insecurities. This isn't a shift that will happen overnight and will take a lot of patience and probably uncomfortable talks ahead. If you're vulnerable first, they might feel more comfortable following suit. Sometimes we have to place our needs before the needs of others. This allows you to be a better version of yourself for others in the first place.
5. Too much too soon
Did you know the brain doesn't multitask? Instead, our attention is shifting like rapid fire from one thing to the next. This allows us to feel less guilty about giving half our attention to just one thing all the while feeling proud of how well we can multitask. In reality, all those areas of focus are suffering by not receiving your full effort.
I talk about this often so I will say it again! Stop trying to change everything at once! Break down one goal into smaller parts, then tackle one small part a time. This is why taking small steps matters: each step is reliant on the previous one for stability.
Your current habits weren't created overnight. Even if you unintentionally created a habit like skipping breakfast or eating standing up, that took time to develop. Changing those habits will need the same time and a conscious effort.
At the end of the day, change will never be easy. Go easy on yourself when you make a mistake. Plan smart. Ask for help. Take it one step at a time.