Change is hard. In fact, it is one of the hardest things one has to go through in life.
They say the secret of life is to grow. And growth needs constant changes and improvements.
People constantly struggle with changing their habits and making their lives better. Take, for example, the norm of life.
The norm is where you go to work or school, spend around 8 hours there, go back home and repeat the process the next day. These things don’t reflect your purpose or even change.
I have lived life as I saw fit and that was not enough. I traveled the world before I was 25 and finished university at 22 with great grades.
Ultimately, I accomplished what the society demanded and I even worked as a professor at the university that I graduated from and at other consulting offices. I did my masters at 24 and explored Europe, Africa, and Asia.
The more I did these things, the more I felt that I’m still far from what I really want to achieve. I wanted to become great.
My perfectionist mind constantly tweaks and criticizes my accomplishments. It tells me that I am not there yet and I accepted it. I wanted to change because I felt my life was ordinary.
Honestly, I was not the perfect image of myself back then. Motivated, I devised ways to change. But, even after several months, I still find myself drowning in the same life- planning and wishing to change.
Then, I discovered why we are not firm with our plans and why we struggle in changing our habits and lives.
Below, I will share with you 8 of the reasons why change is hard.
1You base your plans to change on “motivation”
I know lots of people who become runners on athletics season. Unfortunately, only a few of them continue until the end of the season. Lack of follow-through is usually one of the reasons why.
People get extremely motivated after watching TV shows they like or after listening to an inspiring story. However, they get back to their normal selves as soon as the excitement wears off.
Motivations are great. Declaring “I am great, I can do it” could make one inspired to do something worthwhile. The problem with motivation is that it’s only an emotion. It can inspire one for a short time but it will soon be forgotten.
This is because motivations are not drawn in terms of purpose. They lack vision and don’t provide the energy and the tool for change. Mel Robbins, one of the top-selling authors, says “motivation is garbage.” She argues that our brains are not designed to do even the smallest things in life that could change us for good.
A simple motivation doesn’t change the way the mind is hard-wired. The brain is designed to keep us away from a problem.
Instead, she advises using the technique she calls the three-second rule. The rule is to decide within three seconds.
2You don’t have something else to replace the previous habits
When you decide never to repeat your tasks, you should see in detail what you should do instead. For the drunk to never drink, he should plan to do something else on specific times that he feels the need to drink. He can go see a friend or go out with someone.
If you don’t plan on what to do instead, you will surely find yourself in the same position you were yesterday.
Your mind is wired to keep you from wasting energy and to avoid danger. The way it does that is by blocking you and discouraging you from taking risks.
I once found a guy who hated to see his girlfriend who was abusive to him. Each night, he would meet her only to get verbally abused and criticized. His addiction of seeing her could not let him break up with her even though he wanted to change. The only advice I could give him was to learn to replace what he does each night with looking at the large scratches on the left side of his face. And I didn’t realize my simple advice would impact him.
Weeks later, he came back a new man. He smiled at me and nervously shouted “It worked!”. He started taking cooking classes in the evening, which soon helped him forget visiting the girl. She obviously didn’t call him so he was free at last.
Replace your bad habits with a good habit. Don’t just run away from them.
3You don’t use punishment and reward system
Schools and parents teach children about what is good and what is bad by associating them with punishments and reward systems. “Good deeds” are rewarded while “bad deeds” are punished.
As adults, we learn to associate what we like with what we want to do and what we hate with what we should avoid. We perform certain tasks and we avoid others. This is due to these positive and negative associations where the mind regrets, catches in flight or enjoys the process.
When you overeat, you feel bad. Why?
Because the marketing, culture, and image of being fat punishes you and make you feel guilty. Even though the food you ate does not have much effect on your weight, you still feel sorry for yourself.
Another reason why people struggle to change habits is that of the absence of gratification. To change yourself faster, learn to associate what you want to do with reward. Make your brain believe that eating within your calorie limit is good and that the reward is that perfect body you dream of. This means that instead of associating overeating with punishment, associate eating responsibly with the prize.
4You don’t break your life pattern
“Breaking the pattern” is a technique that I used a while ago. I was not satisfied with the life I was living. I tried to change but I could not.
One day, I accidentally followed my guts and wrote a fiction-like character based on my ideal life. I followed it for a month. I changed where I stay, with whom I stay with, and even where I sleep. Also, I refused to eat where I ate the day before and learned to wake up at 5.
It was hard but my subconscious picked it. All of a sudden, I found myself waking up at 5, writing for an hour, reading for another hour, exercising, eating breakfast, and leaving the house before 7. I go to bed at 10 and close all my laptops and phone at 9. The more I do them in a certain pattern, the more they became automatic.
The whole idea of breaking a pattern is to identify and change your routine until you forget your current life. You can take a month-long vacation somewhere without your computer or other means of communication. You can meditate there to find your real self and emotions or you can explore new places there. Rewrite your perfect day and live it for at least a month.
5You get despaired easily
“Life is a progress”, some say. It is being better than yesterday.
The Japanese have a culture of not examining kids at the beginning of elementary school. Instead, they evaluate the performance of the students based on their progress. Well, that is different from the west and the rest of the world where getting the top spot is always the requirement.
The world is much more associated and information is available than what it used to be 10 years before. The world today gives us much more choice. We can easily get answers to any question we have.
We are people of dreams and enemies of progress. We change jobs as frequently as we can and we change decisions fast.
The reality is life is a progress. It demands constant change and tweaking of what exists. There is no perfection. What exists is change and change needs time. So, be patient.
6You solve the problem without a different perspective
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
To solve a problem, you should see it in a different perspective than how you see it now.
For the depressed, it is hard to solve their problem and for the poor, getting rich is hard. This is similar to being an addict. The addict vows every morning not to drink anymore. However, every night, he still goes out for one drink only to find himself regretting it the next morning. He wants to change but never does.
For change to come, you should be willing to change your current position in life. Change starts with your mind.
You should have a stronger character that believes that solution is possible. Teach your mind that you are greater than what you are.
Your debt, for example, does not define your capability or potential. It only shows your current position in life. And that could change only if you believe that you are better than the situation you are in.
7You don’t have purpose
Your mind follows a certain purpose and that is to survive.
If you base your actions on a certain purpose, the friction of doing and not doing becomes easier. Without purpose, your efforts won’t be successful since success is measured based on what you achieve.
Finding your purpose is a tough task. It is a lifetime job. There is no ultimate answer for what your purpose is because it grows with age and maturity.
Finding your purpose is your personal responsibility.
People usually wait forever just to find their purpose. But, if you figure out what you like and what you want to do the rest of your life, change will be easy.
8You don’t have goals
You need a goal or set of goals to achieve your dream.
Your dream could be changing your life or being great at one thing. To achieve your dream, you need to set small goals. They don’t necessarily have to be grand but they must be something that’s easy to achieve and realistic.
Only wanting and deciding to change your life won’t do anything. You should be able to understand these things, so you can turn your life around.
For example, your general problem is that you need to stop drinking. You won’t achieve that just by promising yourself or by telling people that you plan to stop drinking.
Instead, you should realize that stopping or changing needs constant work. You need to set certain goals.
Days before, I met a woman whose problem was her body image. She was somewhat overweight. She told me she wanted to change her body since she was 20 and she couldn’t. The thing I asked her was about her goals.
She was surprised.
“What goals? To be thinner?”, she said.
After a few more minutes of discussion, we set her daily calorie intake and gym schedule. She was surprised.
Change is hard but it’s necessary.
You often fail because you’re not fully aware of how you should change. Another reason is your own mind, change’s worst enemy. Learning those tips above and applying them in your life can help you change faster than you can imagine.