Change is never easy. People fear change and the unknown that it brings. We were forced into many changes last year due the global pandemic. Many of those changes continue this year. These changes not only impacted our personal life but our professional life as well. Working from home was something new for many people. Not being able to socialize with friends and family in person was also a very hard change. As difficult as it was, we adapted. So why is change still so hard?
I found an article from Psychology Today
that highlighted reasons why changing our behavior is hard. We as human beings are motivated by negative emotions which may trigger us to focus on the things we are not doing, or we feel like we are doing things wrong. If we do not get it right the first time, we tend to be hard on ourselves. Due to our negative emotions, to make a real change, we need a positive reason to take on the challenge. This made complete sense to me. Although I truly did not like social distancing, my positive reason for doing so was keeping my family and friends healthy. Having a positive reason made the change easier.
The article went on to say that when we are overwhelmed, we adapt an all or nothing thinking: "I'm going to charge in and change, and if I fail, that means I just can't do it."
These unrealistic expectations trap us in a no-win situation. When we are attempting to change our behavior, we have to understand that we may fail multiple times, it is part of the process, and we must give ourselves grace and try again. We have to drop that “I just can’t do it” mindset in order to succeed. Failure is a very important part of the process because we learn what did not work and it get us closer to what does work. We should view failure as a step toward change.
In addition, it is almost never possible to take on big changes at once. We have to break the big changes into small, realistic, and specific changes. Each specific action will eventually add up to a big changes overtime. We also have to be sure we have the tools in place to support the change. This means to plan for the change and research what is needed to successfully make the change. With proper planning and small steps, the change will become more manageable.
In the article, the author mentions that our personal resources we use for change include attention, self-control, and motivation, etc. When we try to change too much at once, we place unrealistic demands on ourselves which can be detrimental to our efforts. We have to account for the fact that other areas of our lives also use these resources. For long term change, we have to ensure we account for other areas of our lives using these resources to prevent us from feeling defeated.
What I learned from this article is if we do not make the commitment to change, it will not happen. Change is really hard, but if we find a positive reason for the change, go into the change knowing we could fail multiple times, commit to starting with small specific changes, and plan the steps we will take to make the change, we will achieve success.
DiSalvo, D. (2017). ‘8 Reasons Why It’s so Hard to Really Change Your Behavior’, Psychology Today,
22 Jul. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/neuronarrative/201707/8-reasons-why-its-so-hard-really-change-your-behavior