In our hectic, ever-scheduled lives, we talk about making changes. We want to eat better, quit smoking, worry less, get that big promotion or spend more time with our children. We say these things matter — even go so far as to make a resolution or develop a plan — but time and time again there seems to be one stopping block after another interfering with our good intentions.
“I’m too busy.”
“I’ll never be good enough for that.”
“I’ll start right after that big presentation at work.”
Sound familiar? Well, throw those excuses out the window, because excuses are just that — sources of procrastination to avoid making the changes you say you want. As long as there is one excuse in your way, there will be 10 more right behind it, and year after year, you will stay stuck right where you are at this very moment.
The truth is there are only seven big “success stoppers” — excuses we use to avoid making the healthy changes we desperately want. These issues are there no matter how big or small the change may be that you want to make, and once you’ve conquered them, you will be ready to meet head-on whatever challenge lies in your path to success.
1. Old Habits Die Hard
We are creatures of habit, unfortunate but true. If change were easy, there would not be multi-billion dollar industries devoted to things like weight loss and smoking cessation, to name a couple. If it were easy, one would just make the change he sought. Instead, we fight against our own good intentions, largely due to plain old bad habits. In creating healthy change, you need to be ready to let go of the unhealthy old patterns of behavior, bit by bit, and to replace these with new ways of doing things.
2. Lack of Interest in Change
Sometimes we say what other people want to hear. Sometimes, when everyone around you is saying, “Do this, do that,” it is easier to agree than to admit the truth, especially if it is a change you know you should make. Sometimes, the real reason you don’t change is simply that you don’t want to.
3. The Problem of Other People
No, this does not mean the annoying lady who fills the break room with sugary treats or your ultra successful second cousin are to blame for you not meeting your goals. It is important to recognize, however, that you will have supporters in your attempts at change, you will have resisters, and you will have people who don’t care one way or another. Your job is to learn to recognize who is there for you and who is not.
4. The Addiction Issue
If you have an addiction you are currently struggling with or a relapse which seems to flair up at the slightest hint of stress in your life, change will require extra effort. This is not to say it cannot be done. Many times, those who are fighting to get out from under the yoke of an addiction have the most to gain from making positive changes in life. The first step, though, will always be to make sure your addiction is safely under control and your support system is strong and well-developed before tackling other life changes.
5. Lack of Education
Lack of education is not just about what kind of degree you have or if you are certified in a particular field. It is also about what you know of a subject that others might consider common knowledge. For example, someone who has never had an interest in nutrition may not understand just how bad that quadruple cheeseburger with bacon really is, health-wise. The sad truth is, when we are trying to make changes, sometimes, we just don’t know any better, which is why it is important to learn as much as you can about the changes you want to make.
6. Satisfaction, or the Great Problem of Immediate Gratification
Ah, that instantaneous moment of pleasure. It has everything to do with comfort, convenience and — yes — habit, and it is a tough one to beat. Why? Because sometimes the moment happens so fast it is hard to keep from falling back into old ways of reacting. In that single moment, the smoker finds release from his frustration, the shopaholic gets a little rush from the ringing up of purchases, the over-eater tastes the deliciousness of chocolate cake. To make real change happen, we must be willing to accept some discomfort and be ever-aware of those “danger” moments which can lead us down the wrong path.
7. The Problem of Fear and Control
And finally, the number one biggest reason we avoid doing anything is fear. There are so many kinds of fear: fear of failure, fear of success, fear of the unknown, fear of losing yourself, fear of losing friends or family. The list goes on. Really, what all those fears boil down to is this simple question: What if I can’t handle it?
Releasing control means you accept that your routine will change, and acknowledge that it is for the best. There are things that will be different when you start to make healthy changes, and it’s important to remind yourself that it’s okay. Because really, isn’t change the goal?