Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes

Optimal Mental Health and Well-Being

Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes

Now that 2019 has begun, it is quite likely that for many people, the New Year’s resolutions they made were never acted on or they may have given up after a short period of time. Why?

I don’t think it’s because people don’t want to change anything about their lives. So why is it that their best intentions don’t pan out? One reason I think is that people like the idea of change, but don’t like the hard work and lack of instant gratification that the change process entails. For example, an overweight person may really like the idea of losing weight and being in better shape – who wouldn’t after all? What they don’t like is that their initial attempts don’t give them the desired outcome they want so they give up and return to their old behaviors.

I’ve worked with people who want to give up an addiction such as smoking, but feel so bad after a day or two that they decide it wasn’t worth it or maybe the time wasn’t right. The result is that the old behavior continues. The weight does not melt away like butter after working out a few days. Face it. Making any desired change takes time and sustained effort.

The idea of change is important. It gives us something to work toward. But lasting change doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it painless. Letting go of the status quo can be quite challenging as there is a certain feeling of comfort and security that comes with it.

New behaviors don’t provide this same feeling. Instead, they can feel really uncomfortable. So what do we do? We tell ourselves a story about how hard it is and end up giving ourselves permission to return to the old behavior.

If you really want to make a change in your life it is important to realize that the desire is only a starting point. Changing any behavior takes time. It also takes a willingness to feel uncomfortable for the short term. Talk to anyone who is in recovery for an addiction and they will tell you first hand how they had to take it one day at a time sometimes.

It also takes having support from others. I remember when I stopped smoking over 20 years ago. Despite my initial excitement that I was finally going to be smoke-free, the feeling of withdrawal was so uncomfortable that for the first several weeks I was tempted on a regular basis to return to smoking. The story I told myself was that the time wasn’t quite right yet to quit. Maybe in a couple of months I told myself. But rather than pick up a cigarette, which I normally would have done, I would pick up the phone instead and talk to members of my support team. One day at a time I chose to engage in healthier behaviors rather than smoke.

Getting support and accountability are two important tools in helping to successfully manage the change process. If you really want to succeed in making the desired changes in your life this time, consider getting some help whether it be from a coach or a friend. Remember, nothing changes if nothing changes.

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