3 Reasons You Can’t Change
Its about that time of year when we have made (and broken) a few promises to ourselves. Usually these involve saving money, going to the gym, or something vague about fruit and vegetables.
Many of us have quit making resolutions all together. There are many reasons for this: a) the resolution never happens, b) resolutions just make you feel badly about yourself, c) screw the patriarchal system that says you need to be ‘better’.
When we think about it, it makes perfect sense why so many of us fail to create change. We say we want something on one hand, and flee from it on the other. So why is this?
1) The driver is negative.
Change should be about taking care of yourself, not loathing yourself. However, we have made it exactly that. Wanting to change or develop new habits is seen as evidence that you are currently flawed or insufficient.
Why are you trying to make this change? Is it because you think you’re ‘not good enough’ and need to be ‘better’? Is it because the goal lights a fire in your heart?
Tell me if this sounds familiar. You decide you need to get fit for 2019. You tell yourself that you are overweight, lazy, good for nothing, and you need to get your life in order or you’re going to have a heart attack at 52.
In other words, you are trying to motivate yourself by being a bully. Not very effective.
What if you take a positive driver? What if you decide that you want to get fit for 2019, but because you want to take better care of yourself. Thus, the messaging becomes, “I know I’ll feel good after I exercise,” or “I want to take care of myself so I stay healthy longer.”
The motivation is about self care and going after what makes you feel good. Much better motivator.
2) There are legitimate things in our way.
At iPEC, we learned all about ‘blocks’. These are legitimate things that get in the way of what we want. The problem is, most of us experience a block and assume that means our goal is doomed. Rather, we need to realize we are blocked, and seek to correct the block rather than forfeiting the goal.
For example, say you decide you are going to get fit by exercising at 5 am…except you’ve never been out of bed before 6:30 in your life. The problem here is logistical, not the goal itself. You simply need to try different times to find what works for you. Take another example; say you are going to get fit by going to the gym on weekday nights…except your spouse resents having to make dinner every night while you go to the gym. The problem here is relational. You need to work out a plan with your spouse to meet everyone’s needs.
Blocks anren’t evidence you are pursuing the wrong thing, but rather that you are pursuing it in the wrong way.
3) We are pursuing things we don’t want.
Rather than moving towards things we want, we feel societal obligations to move towards some ideal. Some of us love making money. Some of us love staying at home with our kids. Some of us value travel and adventure. Some of us love triathlons. Some of us love quilting. There is no universal formula for happiness. When we find ourselves half heartedly pursuing our goals, we should ask ourselves “do I even want this?”
Changes you instigate should only be in pursuit of improving your life. Period.
When I graduated law school, I had this idea that I wanted to be a fancy lawyer with a fancy house, and fancy clothes. I made myself miserable for 3 years half heartedly pursing something I didn’t actually want. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t getting any closer to my dream, while doing everything possible not to achieve it. Finally, I figured out what was going on. I asked myself what I actually needed to feel fulfilled. My lists were completely different. On one I needed a mansion, and millions of dollars, and accolades. On the other I needed basic comforts, interesting projects and a loving community.
If you are struggling to change, there are likely legitimate reasons. We tend to assume we aren’t getting results because there is something fundamentally wrong with us. There is nothing wrong with you, you simply haven’t learned the tools you need to successfully create change. Understanding the three points above will hopefully help you to change your perspective on why you’ve been unsuccessful, and how to shift your direction rather than dropping your goals entirely.
All my love,