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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Hope is not a strategy when it comes to change. Commitment is what is needed to make real change happen. Can people change? Absolutely, but exchanging your excuses for commitment is necessary to get started.

Human nature leans toward habits, which can become ingrained over the years, but that doesn’t mean habits can be undone.

The good news is that your personality and behaviors can be changed, but it is up to you. Below are some tips to help you get started with change.

1. Figure out What You Need to Change

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of something you would like to change. That’s great! The first step toward change is acknowledging that you have something you need to change.

Look at the repeated problems in your life, the issues that seem to come up time and time again. Do you keep gravitating toward the wrong relationships, but you blame the people you are choosing, rather than looking at your problem in the selection process?

Do you jump from one job to another, yet blame co-workers and bosses, rather than look at what you may be doing to cause problems and dissatisfaction on the job?

We are creatures of habit, so look at the negative patterns in your life. Then, look inside to see what’s causing these repeated life problems to occur. If you can’t figure it out on your own, consider going to a counselor for better understanding. Once you recognize the area that requires change, you can move to the next step.

2. Believe That Change Is Indeed Possible

There are people out there who believe that personality is unchangeable. When confronted with their problem, such as constant negativity, they lash back with “that’s just who I am.” It may be who you are, but does it need to be?

Change in personality and behaviors is possible. Nobody stays the same from one year to the next, let alone across a decade, so why not move change in the direction that is best for you? Be proactive about the change you want in your life, including the belief that change can occur.

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Look for success stories and people who have changed and done what you so deeply desire to do. Seeing that others have been where you have are and have accomplished the change you desire will help you in your process to accomplish that change.

3. List the Benefits of This Change

In order for people to change, they need to buy into the premise that the change is necessary for their betterment. For example, maybe your goal is to be more productive at work. There are many benefits that could come from this, including:

  • Getting more done in a shorter amount of time.
  • Having more time for your family.
  • Getting a promotion
  • Being liked and appreciated by your boss.
  • Being part of the success of the company.

One of the best ways to help yourself stick to the commitment of change is to make a list of the benefits that the change will bring in your life. Make one list of the benefits for your life and another for your loved ones. Recognizing the full spectrum of benefits, including how your change will affect those closest to you, will help you stick with the process of change.

When you have moments of weakness, or fail on a particular day or time, then getting back on track becomes easier when you review your list on a regular basis. Posting your “benefits of change” list somewhere where you see it often, such as a bathroom mirror, will help you be reminded of why you are doing what you are doing.

4. Make a Real Commitment to Change

Make a commitment to the time frame needed for the change to happen. If you want to lose 50 lbs., then set out a realistic plan of a few pounds per week and a timeline that reflects those goals.

It will take you a lot longer than a month, but setting realistic goals will help you stick to your commitment. Change happens one day at a time. It is not immediate, but over the course of time because of your dedication and commitment to the process.

It also helps if you make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.[1]

People can change using SMART goals

    An example of this would be a person who wants to become an active runner so they can tackle a half marathon. The first step would be to research what other people have done for training plans to achieve this goal.

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    Runners World lays out specifics for a beginner to train for a half marathon: “Target the Long Run: Every other week, increase your long run by 1.5 miles until you’re run/walking 13 to 14 miles. On alternate weeks, keep your long run to no longer than three miles. Your longest long run should fall two weeks before your half-marathon. Plan to take about 15 weeks to prepare for the big day.”[2]

    These kinds of specificities will help you create a personalized plan that is achievable and time-bound.

    You can learn more about writing SMART goals here.

    5. Create a Plan of Attack

    You need a set of steps outlined to succeed. This is why 12-step programs are so successful. You can’t simply walk into a meeting and be cured and changed. You need to mentally process the change in order for the change to be lasting and effective.

    Create a plan for your change. Be realistic and investigate what other people have done to change.

    For example, if you are dealing with anxiety and want to change that, then seek out therapy methods to address your problem. Stick with the therapy plan until your change process is complete. Simply hoping the anxiety will someday go away is not a plan.

    6. Commit to Action

    It is wonderful to set a goal for change and to write it down, but if you don’t act, then your mental commitment means nothing. There is no actual commitment unless action follows. To best kick start our change, the key is to act now[3].

    For example, if you committed to lose 50lbs, then now is the time to go join a gym, hire a trainer, and walk into a weight loss clinic to get support. We can make up our mind to be determined to change, but if action does not follow soon thereafter, then you will likely fail.

    If you wait until later that week, you will get caught up in doing your daily routine, things for works, taking care of others, or whatever it may be; there will be distractions that will derail you from taking action later. There is no better time to take action than when you make the decision to change.

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    For example, if you decide you want to finally write that book that is in your mind, but you don’t have a working laptop, then go and get a laptop today. Then, set aside an hour each day after work (and on your calendar) so that you can write. Instead of going out with friends after work, you are committing to achieve this goal, and you have time set aside to make that goal happen.

    7. Find a Support System

    When people want to change, finding a support system is key. A great way to find support is through group therapy or support groups. If you have a substance abuse issue, for example, you can find groups that specialize is supporting you through recovery and change.

    If you prefer to find support in the comfort of your own home, then you can look for online support forums and Facebook groups that deal with whatever change you are looking to pursue.

    Your ability to be successful in change is dependent on your ability to dive in; support systems help you with the initial dive and staying committed thereafter. and will help you stay committed to the process. Don’t underestimate the power you have by partnering with others who are seeking the same change.

    8. Get Uncomfortable

    Change should be uncomfortable. You are entering new territory and stepping out of your comfort zone. Your mind and past habits will be resistant to the change, as it is uncomfortable and difficult.

    If you give up because of the discomfort, then you are destined to fail in your pursuit of change. Embrace the discomfort associated with change and recognize that it puts you one step closer to accomplishing your goals.

    9. Stick to the Plan

    When people decide to change, sticking to it is difficult. If you get derailed from your plan, don’t berate yourself. Instead, allow yourself some margin of error and then get back on track.

    You can’t expect to go on a diet without splurging sometimes. The key is “sometimes.” The sooner you get back on track, the more successful you will be in accomplishing your change goals.

    Other researchers on the topic of change believe this process is about dedication and commitment to the change desired in our day to day lives, as Douglas LaBier from the Huffington Post so aptly stated:[4]

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    “Change occurs from awareness of what aspects of our personality we want to develop, and working hard to “practice” them in daily life.”

    Here are some tips on sticking to a plan:

    Engage in Self-Reflection

    Reflect on things that have derailed you in the past and problem solve them before they happen.

    Jot down those things that tend to get you off track. Now, list ways to combat the derailments before they happen. For example, if you are wanting to lose weight but you work late hours, then commit to morning workouts.

    If you know that in the past you would continually hit the snooze button and subsequently miss the workouts, then hire a trainer for early morning workouts. You are less likely to miss your workout if you have real money attached to it and someone counting on you to show up. You could also schedule morning workouts with a friend, so you know there is someone showing up and you don’t want to let them down.

    Brainstorm solutions for your past derailments so that this time around you are ready to stick to the plan and the commitment you have made to change.

    Define Your Commitment

    Commitment is a daily mental and physical plight when it comes to change. If your commitment is to lose weight, then be specific about how you are going to achieve your change. For example, you decide you are going to stick to 1,800 calories a day and a 1-hour workout every day.

    Then, write those goals down and chart your daily progress. Hold yourself accountable.

    Final Thoughts

    Can people change? Hopefully, by now, you believe that they can. If you have a sense of commitment and persistence, change is possible with any life experience.

    Start small, create specific goals, and don’t wait to get started. You’ll be amazed how far change will take you.

    More on How to Make Changes in Your Life

    Featured photo credit: Jurica Koletić via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Dr. Magdalena Battles

    A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

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    Last Updated on April 19, 2021

    7 Reasons to Dare to Dream Big

    7 Reasons to Dare to Dream Big

    When you dare to dream big, you are taking an active role in your life. You are being present and allowing yourself to experience things as they happen. As you make a conscious effort to set goals and achieve them, you are going to have a richer life experience. In this article, we discuss 7 reasons to dream big.

    1. Live a Life of No Regrets

    There are plenty of experiences in life that don’t come around very often. Halley’s Comet, for instance, comes around once every 75 years. As a result, most people make a serious effort to experience this once in a lifetime event. When you understand something is special, you usually try to make it a point to experience it.

    Your life and the experiences you accumulate are no less valuable. Yet, there are people who are not experiencing this very special opportunity every day.

    There is little worse than coming to the end of your life and realizing you never lived your fullest life. By acknowledging that your life is as special of an event as an eclipse or Halley’s Comet, you will live your life to the fullest. When you dare to dream big, you are breaking your limits and challenging the status quo.

    2. Inspire Others

    Think about the stories that motivate you to take action. These are usually stories of people who overcame the odds and achieved something great. It is why so many people love to watch movies; you are living vicariously through the experiences of the hero. Their willingness to do the right thing in the bleakest of times is the stuff legends are made of.

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    Heroes exist in real life, too. Just like in the movies, they are the people who show courage in the face of danger and dare to dream in the face of adversity. They are also willing to put the needs of others above their own. You could inspire the next generation by your contribution if you dare to dream big.

    3. Receive a Greater Reward

    Those who are willing to take risks in life end up receiving the lion’s share of the reward. Think about the difference between someone who opens their own law firm versus someone who chooses to be a public defender. They are essentially doing the same work, but the person who is a public defender is not taking any risk. They are going to receive a consistent paycheck every week, regardless of the amount of work they perform.

    Someone who owns their own law firm has the ability to earn an unlimited amount of income. However, they also have the ability to earn nothing.

    Those who dare to dream big understand that there is a risk associated with their decisions. Most people are not willing to take on the risk associated with chasing their dreams because do not want to be put in a position where they can lose everything. They would rather live a life short of their true potential in order to avoid possible failure…but where’s the fun in that?

    4. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

    Your comfort zone is such a wonderful place. You get into a little groove and things seem to be coming along naturally.

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    However, while your comfort zone can feel great, it is also the place where your big dreams go to die. For someone to dare to dream big, they know they must push themselves beyond their current limits. A Yale study says that stability shuts off the switch to your brain. In other words, when you remain in your comfort zone, your brain stops learning.[1]

    When you dare to dream big, you are encouraging your brain to imagine ways to accomplish your goal. There is a level of uncertainty that causes you to fear leaving your comfort zone. You are worried about your ability to succeed and whether the journey is worth traveling.

    You may think, “What if I invest a year into this relationship and find out this person is not right for me?” Or what if you accept that new position, but you don’t like your new boss? All of these thoughts are signs that you are about to leave your comfort zone. Instead of running away from these experiences, try to lean into them.

    5. Living Small Doesn’t Help Anyone

    The sad truth is that plenty of people will not like you simply because you are successful. Success will test your relationships with your friends and family. You will feel tempted to limit yourself and not pursue your big dreams.

    Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you cannot dare to dream big because the people you are currently around dream small. Living small only hinders your growth and theirs[2]. At least by pursuing your dreams, your friends and family may live through your experiences. As a result, you may be the catalyst they need to pursue their own.

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    In addition, you never know what amazing things you will accomplish if you dare to dream big. Imagine going to medical school and creating the cure for cancer. Or making advancements in technology and changing the human experience for decades to come. You need to find your motivation and drive in life.

    If everyone lived small, there would be no innovation, advancement, or growth. Does that sound like a world you want to be a part of?

    6. Conquer Fear

    There are two choices in life. You are either living a life of fear or a life of dreams. When you dare to dream big, you are undoubtedly living a life based on your dreams. Your dreams are found in that little voice inside of you that tells you all the amazing things you can do to change the world.

    The problem most people face is they have another voice in their head telling them all the reasons they cannot live their dream life.[3] This voice is constantly reminding you of all of your mistakes and all of the reasons success is not possible.

    Fear is a powerful tool you can utilize to help you take action. Instead of being afraid of how someone is going to react, be afraid of letting yourself down. Stop thinking about the worst thing that can happen for once and start thinking about the best things that can happen.

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    How would your life be different if you dared to dream big? In fact, how would the life of those you love be different because of your willingness to pursue your dreams? Allow these answers to fuel you in your time of fear and self-doubt. You are counting on you, but if that is not enough, those you love are counting on you, too.

    7. Write Your Own Story

    Have you ever gotten lost in a good book? Books tend to be better than most movies’ because books don’t have a budget. Movies are bound by the laws of science and technology. These laws don’t exist when you write a book. There is no discussion around how much those explosions cost or whether you can make something look real.

    Indeed, books allow the author and the reader to both use their imagination. The author is putting their imagination on each page, and the reader uses their imagination to interpret the story. Your life is like being lost in a good book. Every day you wake up, you are writing another chapter. No one knows how the story is going to end, but how would you like it end? Do you want to be victorious because you were willing to dare to dream big, or do you want people to say you left with untapped potential?

    Final Thoughts

    Your life is the best gift the universe can give you, so don’t waste it. Be willing to dare to dream big and allow yourself to make mistakes. Things are not always going to go your way, but that doesn’t mean you cannot find a way overcome the challenges you face. Continue to strive to be a little better each day, and before you know it, you will be everything you thought you could be and more.

    More Tips for Making Dreams Happen

    Featured photo credit: Jeremy Perkins via unsplash.com

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