Doing Life Together

board-978179_1920Why is change so hard? We have great intentions and want to improve our lives. We start out very motivated, but then seem to fail to do the very things we want to do. Why is this? Consider these 7 reasons.

For one thing, change is uncertain and often makes us uncomfortable even when it is in a positive direction. We tend to keep doing the familiar even when it doesn’t work for us. We are creatures of habit. We like the known and familiar.

If you are stressed and need to make changes, it is harder to do. When we are in overload mode, we don’t have the energy or the desire to tackle yet one more new thing. Thus, beginning change in a stressful life season is not a set up for success.

Another reason we often fail making changes is because it is either not that important or we don’t have the confidence to change. Let’s say I want to lose weight. Losing weight might be important, but my confidence to be able to do it might be low. If so, failure is likely. Change has to be both important and you must have confidence (usually means a good plan).

If we are honest, the status quo might give us reasons not to change. We may be getting a benefit from keeping things the same. For example, when I asked a wife why she doesn’t leave her disrespectful husband, she says, “He pays the bills and I live in a great house. Yes, I don’t like the way he treats me, but I also don’t want to give up the positives I get from being married to him.”

Sometimes change fails because our goals are too high or too unrealistic. For example, if you have a goal to lose 50 pounds and it is 20% of your weight, that goal may be too high. Better to start with the goal of losing 5 pounds, then another 5, then another. That mindset will breed confidence and success. And if you make too many changes too quickly, you can get what has been called, decision fatigue. Too many decisions to make all at once. You get exhausted and give up.

One of the most cited reasons for failing at change is lacking a plan. You might have a good idea that some part of your life needs to change, but have no plan in place to accomplish the goal. Recently, this rang true when a friend said, “I want to be a more positive person.” I then asked, “What is your plan to make that happen?” “I don’t really have one, just hope I can do it.”

And finally, the old adage that it takes 21 days to change a habit doesn’t ring true. In many cases, it takes hundreds of days to change a habit. In part, because the brain has to rewired and new patterns have to be practiced over and over to really stick. Quick change doesn’t usually stick. Practicing a new habit takes commitment and perseverance.



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