Why You’re Struggling to Change

22 June 2023
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You Believe You Need More Knowledge

Many believe they must know more before they can change a habit or have the right equipment or resources before changing it.

So they find themselves stuck in tutorial hell.

However, research has shown that having a specific action plan is more effective than simply seeking more information.

We don’t need more knowledge. We need a plan.

In a study by Lally et al. (2010), participants who were given a specific plan of action were more likely to succeed in starting a new habit than those who were given information about the benefits of the habit.

You Believe You Need More Time

While having more time to focus on a behavior change can be helpful, it is not always necessary. What is more important is how you choose to use your time.

Research has shown that we can make significant life changes by prioritizing and committing to our goals, regardless of the available time. This means that you can start working towards changing behavior with just a few minutes each day, as long as you are consistent and intentional in your efforts.

A specific action plan is also more effective than simply seeking more time.

You can maximize your time and increase your chances of success by breaking down your goal into smaller, more manageable steps and creating a routine or schedule to implement these steps.

While more time can be helpful, it is unnecessary for behavior change. Consistency, intentionality, and a well-defined action plan are critical to achieving lasting change.

A study by Gardner and colleagues found that participants who perceived themselves to have more free time were no more likely to behave healthily than those who perceived themselves to have less free time.

You Believe You Need To Be More Prepared

Many of us believe we need more preparation before taking action.

We may need to read more books, take a course, or find a mentor before we can start working on our goals.

However, research has shown that setting clear and specific intentions is more important than having more preparation. Setting a clear intention provides direction, motivation, and focus, which helps us achieve our desired outcomes.

Clear and specific intentions increase the likelihood of achieving goals and making meaningful life changes.

You Believe You Need More Money

We are constantly bombarded with messages that we need more money to change.

The narrative is that money can purchase resources and opportunities to facilitate change.

Having more money does not make a difference once we have a decent basic income that allows us to invest in education or training and buy the tools or equipment to help us achieve our goals.

We often fall into the trap of believing we need more resources to make significant life changes.

Still, research has shown that it’s possible to make significant changes with limited resources by being creative, resourceful, and strategic.

Having a clear vision, a strong commitment, and the willingness to take action are more important than having more resources.

Ultimately, the belief that we need more money to change may reflect a mindset that values material wealth over other personal growth and fulfillment forms.

You Believe You Need Something Better and Bigger Than Habits

We tell ourselves that habits are a prison, and we don’t want to give up our spontaneity.

However, research has shown that habits are the most significant catalyst for change. Focusing on a specific plan and implementation intention is more effective than simply seeking something better or more important.

When we have established positive habits, we can spend less mental energy and willpower on decision-making, planning, or self-regulation, as these actions become automatic and require less conscious effort.

Positive habit frees up cognitive resources that can be redirected toward other tasks, such as learning new skills or solving complex problems.

In other words, better habits give time and energy to be spontaneous.

Furthermore, better habits reduce stress and anxiety by providing structure and predictability to our daily lives, which helps us to feel more in control of our environment and reduces the cognitive load associated with uncertainty and unpredictability.

Let’s examine and challenge some common limiting beliefs that stand in the way of creating long-lasting habits.

Change With Minimal Friction

Changing behavior or a habit can be challenging. Still, often not for the reasons we think, change requires stepping out of our comfort zones and into unfamiliar territory, which can be uncomfortable or scary.

We may use defense mechanisms such as denial, projection, rationalization, regression, avoidance, and intellectualization to avoid dealing with uncomfortable emotions or situations.

We may also have feelings or impulses, fears, doubts, or negative self-talk that can get in the way of our motivation and self-confidence, that we end up redirecting from the original target to a less threatening one.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to create lasting habits that are backed up by research:

  • Identify the behavior you want to change: Start by identifying a specific behavior you want to change. Be as straightforward as possible and focus on one behavior at a time.
  • Create a clear and actionable plan: Develop a plan outlining specific actions to achieve your goal. Break down the goal into smaller, more manageable steps you can implement regularly.
  • Make a commitment: Commit yourself to follow through with your plan. Hold yourself accountable and be consistent in your efforts.
  • Track your progress: Keep track of your progress, such as through a journal or a tracking app. This can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals.
  • Measure your success: Set benchmarks to measure your success and progress. This will help you see how far you’ve come and give you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Evaluate your approach: Regularly evaluate your approach to see what’s working and what’s not. Adjust your plan accordingly, and don’t be afraid to try new approaches.
  • Practice self-compassion: Be kind and compassionate with yourself, especially if you experience setbacks or challenges. Remember that change is a process, and it takes time.
  • Seek support: Consider seeking support from friends, family, or a professional if needed. Support and accountability can help you stay on track and reach your goals.

By identifying the real reason you’re struggling to change a habit and following these steps, you can begin making changes in your life with minimal friction and working towards your goals.

Here are five empowering questions to help you identify any limiting beliefs that may be preventing you from changing a habit:

  1. What beliefs do I hold about the importance of knowledge in making meaningful changes in my life?
  2. How might my beliefs about time’s role prevent me from making positive changes?
  3. Do I believe that I need certain resources, such as money or preparation, to achieve my goals? How might this belief be holding me back?
  4. Do I believe that habits are limiting and that I need something bigger or better to achieve success? How might this belief be holding me back?
  5. How might my beliefs about the challenges of change limit my ability to create lasting habits and achieve my goals?

By examining and challenging our limiting beliefs, we can begin to make meaningful changes and achieve our goals.

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