Change. Even the word sometimes causes a visceral reaction. I’ve yet to meet one person who doesn’t want to change at least one thing in his or her life. We have an abundance of resources about change at our fingertips, yet we struggle with it. Most of the time, there are many reasons we get stuck, but most of it comes down to mindset and underlying behaviors that we may not even be conscious of. Below you will find nine reasons we struggle to change and concrete steps you can take to get past where you may be stuck.
1. Concept of Depletion: We only have so much energy in our bodies before we get depleted.
Have you ever noticed that you can start a day out really well with getting tasks done, and by the end of the day you don’t quite have the strength to continue on your journey as well as you did before? Psychologists call this the “concept of depletion.” We only have a limited resource available to us before we need to recharge. No different than our physical needs, our brain needs to reboot as well.
We can struggle to change because we either expect too much of ourselves or have decided to change too much. If you struggle with perfectionism, you may certainly fall into this category of wanting change to be perfect or doing too much.
Want to overcome this? Start with breaking down your goal into small parts. Don’t try to change too many things at once. Take on changes one at a time, making sure that you’ve made it a habit before adding the next change. And remember, perfection is the enemy of done.
2. Roadblocks: We don’t take into account for the high probability of roadblocks or problems
Things are gonna get in our way. Whether it’s going on vacation while trying to eat differently or trying to change the culture of your company, roadblocks will happen. One thing I do while working with clients who want to make change in their life is to ask them, “What roadblocks are you possibly going to encounter?” When you expect roadblocks or problems, you are less likely to feel defeated or be unprepared.
What to do? Make a list of all the potential roadblocks or problems that may happen in the future. Write down how you are going to handle them and continue along the lines of your goal.
3. Planning Fallacy: It’s easier said than done.
Psychologists have found that we tend to predict that a project will take less time than it actually does–even if we know the project well. This is easily seen when we think that we can lose weight in 30 days or that we can change overnight. It just doesn’t happen like that.
Awareness is key to this aspect of our humanity. When you want to change something, extend the time you allot time for yourself. Be generous with your estimate so that you can achieve your goal realistically. Likewise, when you do plan something and it takes more time, remember this: People sometimes fall into the trap and say, “Well, I didn’t get it done by now, so I’m gonna just give up.” Take a step back, realize it is part of humanity. Don’t judge; adjust and keep moving forward.
4. Structure: When we lack structure, we struggle to change.
I remember wanting to get in the habit of going for a walk every morning with my dog. This would be a big change from my normal night owl self. I decided one day that tomorrow I was gonna start walking first thing in the morning. The next morning came around and I forgot. Not only did I forget, but when I remembered, I still didn’t do it. I didn’t plan out how I would go about structuring my morning so that I could get it done. The next day, I set my alarm, put a Post-it note next to the alarm, set out my tennis shoes, and put the dog’s leash next to the bed. There was no forgetting the walk that next morning.
If you find yourself making goals or problem solving for your life, make sure you break down what you want to change into very concrete steps. If you need reminders, figure out what works for you. Structure and plan your day to accommodate what you want to achieve.
5. Culture of Immediacy: We think there is a quick fix.
Not many things in our lives that we feel proud of took us 2 minutes to accomplish. The things we tend to feel most proud of in our lives are things that we spend weeks, months and even years on. Look back on your life and think about the things that you’ve accomplished or goals you’ve reached, and most likely you with find that they did not happen very quickly.
The struggle with the quick-fix mindset is that you are setting yourself up for failure if you don’t change overnight. Here comes perfectionism again. We can get stuck by our limiting beliefs of “shoulds” and “perfection,” and when we take a step backwards (as we all do as we move into change), we beat ourselves up. If you find yourself in this category, it’s time to take a good look at some limiting beliefs you may be experiencing and start challenging those beliefs with realistic statements.
6. Self-Searching: We struggle to look within for our own answers.
So much of coaching is figuring out what is not working and why. When a client comes to me wanting to change something, we always begin with figuring out what has worked in the past, what hasn’t and what is getting in the way. Looking within without judgement can be one of the greatest gifts that we can give ourselves when we are stuck.
Here are a few ways to look within for your own answers:
- Write Sit down and just write for 30 minutes with no judgement or worry about grammar. Just write whatever comes to your mind. You’ll be surprised what you can learn.
- Don’t judge. Take a step back and look at possible reasons for why things aren’t working. Take judgement out of the equation. The moment we judge ourselves, that is the moment narrow our view from seeing the big picture.
- Hire a coach. Coaches are great at questioning and can help bring things out of you that you may not be able to see on your own.
7. Values: We create goals that don’t work/fit with our values.
This is a big one. If you create a goal that does not fit with your values, you are going to struggle, and rightly so. Goals need to align with our values, with what is most important to us. An example, if you find yourself wanting to be more social, and you set a goal of getting out and doing things with friends three times a week, but by doing this you are taking away from getting your business off the ground, you will find one or more of your goals will not be reached.
Write down your values. When you write out a goal or problem solve an area of your life, figure out what values that desired outcome fulfills. If you struggle to find a value for it, you may need to rethink your goal to match what you value.
8. Vision: We fail to create a vision.
Are you moving towards something or away? This is a question I ask my clients often. If we are looking at something you don’t want in your life, that is what you focus is on. Your energy goes in the direction of your thoughts. If we look at what you do want in your life, there your focus lies. It’s all about vision. Create a vision of the life you want, and you will move in that way. It’s all about mindset.
There are many creative ways of focusing on what you do want so that you can create a vision. Making a vision board is one way to focus your energy on your desires. Meditating each day on what life could look like in 3, 6, 12 months as you reach your goals is another way to create vision in your life .
9. Stages of Change: We don’t Identify which stage we are in.
35 years of research gives us insight into intentional change. People move through stages of change as they modify behavior. These stages of change, aka, Transtheoretical Model, are:
It’s really helpful to identify which stage you are in so that you can figure out why you may be not getting the traction you want. It can also be helpful in getting rid of self-judgment and moving into the next stage.
To identify which stage you’re in, study the different stages of change and figure out where you are for that particular goal in your life. Take steps to move into the next stage.