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“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” ~ Maria Robinson

What makes people change?

What makes you change, for the better? This is basically the central question of my work here.

Some people don’t want to change. This is totally ok as long as they are truly happy. If not, then they are missing out on their possibility to reach real happiness and fulfillment in life. Deep down they know that and it surfaces in an attitude of frustration and silent desperation. They simply resist change because they have given up on living their dreams and shining bright. They are closed. You don’t want that to ever happen to you.

When you write a personal development blog you finally come to the question of what prevents my readers from having the success they want? What is it that despite very best intentions, ruins all efforts to make and maintain a positive change in life?

I think there are pattern that work against change. The key is to become aware of those and then to see how you can work around them. So here are my top 5 mistakes that could prevent you from making a positive change on your life:

1. Conflicting Motivations on a Deeper Level

When you want to make a really important change in life it usually feels like a no-brainer when you decide to do it. After all it seems so obvious and common sense, right? The people all around you agree and you are ready to go for it. But then… it didn’t happen. Or it did happen, but only for a very short period of time and then you are back to the old undesirable state.

So why the heck is it so hard to make a positive change stick?

We have to realize what really drives change. So the answer lies in the fact that yes, you want to make that change really badly, but there is most likely also another force countering your willingness to change at play. There are always two very basic forces that drive any change and those are the desire for pleasure and the need to avoid pain. As I said, basic. But if you really think about it it comes down to these two motivations in one way or the other. Tony Robbins teaches that concept as well.

Another way how this operates is when you are after long-term goals vs. short-term gains. Of course you want to be slim and energetic, but eating the chocolate cake just tastes so good as well.

So if you really want to be totally productive but you also fear the stress level that could come with it and value a comfortable lifestyle highly, you will have a conflict reaching maximum productivity.

Solution? First become aware of all the basic motivations that are at play. What is mainly influencing your desire for the change and what could counteract on it? Then what you basically have to do is a) make the motivation for the change bigger and more present and b) lower the influence of the conflicting motivation, for instance by associating negative results with it.

2. Habits with Negative Momentum

The second most difficult thing when making a change is that you have to overcome the negative momentum of your old behavior. Negative habits have this kind of inertia that tends to keep them in place. But fortunately the same inertia or momentum can be developed with positive habits.

Solution? Two words: Baby steps. Don’t try to change one thing completely but try to find small steps that are easy to do that will move you into the right direction. For instance if you want to implement the exercise habit to feel more energetic and healthy, don’t start with running like crazy for a marathon distance. Start by walking and make baby steps towards the end-goal. As said in point 1, also try to juice up your experience so your brain will associate positive experiences with the new habit.

3. No Big Personal WHY

Obviously the driving force behind any change is your own personal reason why you want that change to happen, also called your big WHY. Why do you want that to happen? Your reason is the most important fuel to keep going. So if your reason is influenced by other people or by what society “dictates”, maybe that’s not the right reason; it’s not your personal reason.

Solution? With anything you want to accomplish, ask yourself why you really want it and self-reflect on your personal reasons. If there is no personal drive, you probably don’t want to do it.

4. Fear of the Unknown

Generally speaking, change can have either positive of negative consequences. In the context of this post and my work in general, change means really “positive change” and stands synonym for self-improvement and personal growth.

But for many change has a rather negative connotation, or at least if not necessarily negative, it entails a lot of uncertainty. It feels much safer to stay in the certainty of common ground. But of course, it’s not working like this. Change happens all the time, whether you like it or not. So what you want to do is take control of the change and direct it to your own liking.

Solution? Fear of change is really a limiting belief that change means something negative. It has been learned in the past, and therefore can be unlearned again. This takes some work, but it is work spend very, very wisely.

5. An Unsupportive Environment

We all need some kind of support. If you are in an environment where people live the lifestyle you want to get away from, you not only find no inspiration, you also distance yourself from your social peer group which is tough to do. It may not only people, also the area where you live or work can be a negative influence.

Solution? Brian Tracy had a saying of “If you want to fly with the eagles, you can’t scratch with the birds.” It doesn’t mean that you think you are better, it means that you just need something else to fully come to life. You have to surround yourself with the people and environment that support you in your idea of how you want to live.

6 comments

  1. Glynis Jolly Reply November 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    I think where my largest obstacle is figuring out what my Why is way down deep. Something to work on for the next few days.

    Great post, Myrko.

  2. Myrko Reply November 4, 2012 at 6:55 am

    I think that would be valuable, yes!

    For me personally it’s definitely about the conflicting wants (#1)… I want to be massively productive, but I want to live a stress-free life. I like comfort to a certain degree and want to take my time to think things through. On the other hand I want to be fast.

    I want to be empathic and emotional, on the other hand I want to use logic and thoughts to break through little emotional barriers.

    Finding balance seems to be the highest and most difficult thing to do.

  3. Glynis Jolly Reply November 4, 2012 at 10:41 am

    @Myrko: Although I have problems in the same area as you, I have come to accept the fact that I am going to have conflicts between left-side and right-side thinks. Coming to this acceptance has helped me take things more in stride. I just would like it to make a difference on how I can resolve deep-rooted problems like the WHY? question. ;)

  4. Myrko Reply November 5, 2012 at 5:07 am

    I guess the conflicting motivations are part of everyday life, question is which side wins. I think the technique mentioned to strengthen one side helps. I wasn’t very verbose on this technique, maybe I do that later.

    So with the big WHY, isn’t it passion and your purpose in the end?

  5. Jocelyn Zamora Reply November 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    My husband and I are leaving with my niece with her husband and son. A conflict happened between my husband and niece. We decided to move in January. My husband said inorder to begin a new life we need to stay away from the negative people in our past. He decided to keep our address secret even my family. This bother me and streess me everyday how it gonna be like living like that when we finally move in January.

  6. Teri D Allen Reply February 24, 2013 at 9:01 am

    I do the step study at celebrate recovery to find out about my deep rooted troubles. And was able to quit drinking and quit hating people. It is a place I can get positive influence and learn to make changes I need

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