We see it a lot, especially on social media. We’re told that if we want to see change then we have to work for it, no excuses. The famous slogan “Just Do It” comes to mind here. However, if it’s so easy, why doesn’t everyone just “do it”? What stops people making changes?
1. Change can be scary
Even if you’re in a situation which isn’t serving you well, the prospect of change can be even more unsettling. Whether it’s a job you’re not happy in, a destructive relationship, or poor physical health, if it’s what you’ve known for a long time it can be scary to take the first step to move away from it.
So, when people ask “why don’t you just [change your job, leave your partner, take up exercise]” it’s not necessarily as easy as all that.
Sometimes, it’s about asking “what’s getting in the way of change?”, in other words, what are the barriers to change? It might be things like lack of resources (e.g., finances), illness, lack of social support, being scared of failure.
A good starting point would be to identify and address the barriers first, before moving onto the actual change.
2. Change comes in all shapes and sizes
We see on social media that people report to make all sorts of significant ‘transformations’, whether this is in their physical fitness, earning so much money a year, or moving to the other side of the world for a new life.
Firstly, I wouldn’t believe everything you see on social media. Images tend to be carefully curated and it’s easy to believe that so many other people have lives which are way more idyllic than ours. Whilst this might be true in some cases, some people might actually be envious of your life!
Also, what might be a “small” change in one person’s eyes might be a huge change for another person.
So, don’t measure your changes against other people and try not to judge other people’s changes. Your small hill might be their mountain.
3. Change can feel overwhelming
Change isn’t always a case of just making the decision to change and then everything else falls into place. Change is often made up of a series of smaller steps to work towards the main goal.
Focusing on the main goal might seem daunting to some people. So daunting in fact that it puts people off starting on the first step towards change altogether.
If you, or someone else, is worried about how huge a change might be, then break it down into smaller steps. Make each step one goal and work through them one at a time.
I’ve often found that change becomes easier once I’ve made that first step. As you increase the number of steps you take (or smaller goals you achieve), the momentum tends to build. As momentum builds this can increase your motivation to keep you moving towards your goal.
4. You think you need to be motivated to change
I’ve been here myself, thinking that I need to be motivated to go about making changes. However, you’re never going to be motivated every single day – that’s impossible. Motivation comes and goes, and that’s normal.
I’ll give a personal example. For the past five years, I have gotten up early every morning to do my exercise routine. Well, that’s not entirely true – when I’ve been on holiday or I’ve been unwell I’ve had a break from exercising. However, when I’m well, I’m up every morning. Exercise makes me feel good.
Do you think I’ve leapt out of bed every morning for the past five years, praising the fact that I get to exercise at such an early hour? Of course not! There are days when I’d rather spend the extra hour in bed.
However, I know that exercise helps maintain my mental wellbeing and I get enjoyment out of it.
So, even though my motivation might be hovering at zero, I make the decision to get out of bed and exercise anyway. And you know what? I feel much better by the end of it.
You don’t necessarily need to be motivated when it comes to making changes, but change does take discipline and consistency. Like I said above, if you’re having difficulties with these things, think about the barriers which might be getting in the way.
Ultimately, if we want to make changes then it is our responsibility. However, having compassion for ourselves and others when it comes to change is important because change isn’t always as straight forward as we might assume.
If you’re feeling stuck with making changes, then why not sign up for my free Dare to Change guide? It gives you useful exercises to help you get clearer on what you want to change and the steps to take to get there.
Also, you can find information on all of my services in the header above. Please contact me if you would like to discuss any of these further.