Making Change Work for You

We are now four days into the New Year–heading toward a week. How are those resolutions coming? I’m not a fan of resolutions, but I am supporting several people who made resolutions to change. They aren’t having a good time.  Because even when you want to change, it isn’t easy. What makes change hard? Two major factors: yourself and others. The rest is easy.

Change can get derailed if you don't enlist your family and friends to help you.

Change can get derailed if you don’t enlist your family and friends to help you.

When you decide to change, you have your past to wrestle with. You choose the path to change and suddenly your inner critic pipes up. “What’s so wrong with who you are now?” “Love yourself the way you are, change is a sign of self-hatred.” “Can you really keep up this behavior?”

If you want to change a habit, you’ll have to substitute the new behavior for about two months. That’s as long as it will take you to establish the new habit in place of the old. Most people say one month, but two is more realistic.

One to substitute the new action and make it a habit,  the next to overcome the pushback from your friends and family. No doubt about it, they will be the longest two months of your life. You will invent a thousand reasons to go back to the old behavior–it’s your birthday, you just started a diet, you are stressed, now is not a good time. But like having a baby, there is never a perfect time, you have to gear up, crank up your determination and get busy.

Just when you do, your friends will start chipping away at your resolve. They will give you excuses to fail. They will tell you they like you the way you are. They will whine that you don’t need to change. Why are your friends so focused on sabotage? Because if you change, they will have to change. They will have to get to know the new you, they will have to change the way they treat you . And your friends don’t want to change. It’s too much work. It is a lot less work to complain until you quit changing.

Your friends can be persistent and threatening. Most people don’t like confrontation, and they do like their friends, so they cave in and go back to being “normal.” And there goes the path to success.

If you are determined to change, tell your friends you plan ahead of time and enlist their help. Ask them to support you before the chorus of complaints begins. Often asking for support not only makes friends understand that this is important to you, it helps you be clear about what you want. And talking about the change helps you be clear about what you want for your future.

That doesn’t mean your friends will always support you, but it gives you a better start. And a good start is the best way to start toward a good finish.

Quinn McDonald is changing. And it’s damn hard.


6 thoughts on “Making Change Work for You

  1. Oddly enough — or maybe it’s not odd at all; I have no idea — as far as I remember I have never made a “resolution”. And until just now I’m pretty sure I never thought about it. Just not goal oriented I guess 🙂

  2. Every year I think I will start new things on January 1st and every year I forget that I have to clean up the previous year before I can comfortably start on the new one. I have to put away Christmas decorations and put my space in order, put away old journals and review the past year,decide how I am going to journal this year, etc. That is what I have spent the past four days doing. I feel a little disappointed that I haven’t started my Moment To Moment journal yet and I haven’t started a new project after finishing my 2013 handmade calendar but today is a new day and another chance to start the new year. As you say, change takes time, it doesn’t happen over night just because of the date on the calendar and the hard part is clearing out the old stuff to make way for the new.

    • When we are not ready, or not willing, or just not up to putting in the work it takes to change, it won’t happen. We have family company, and I’m not putting away the holiday decorations until they leave. I like the lights and sparkle. You’ll get in gear when you feel the traction.

  3. A teacher once said to me; if your intention is 100% your succes will be too! I think that’s true but also think it’s good to ask support from friends or and family. Because it’s true what you say they will feel threatened by changes. Also it’s maybe time to let go some contacts when they are not supportive or understanding. Sometimes some ‘friendships’ are no longer real friendships and don’t serve each others path in life. Then we need to walk alone or look for other company!
    Thanks for your inspiring messages, really like to read them! warm greet Miranda

    • Not everyone can support us all the time. It’s perfectly fine to let friendships drift for a while if neither of you is able to offer support for change. Friendship, like marriage requires each person to contribute more than 50 percent to making it work. In marriage, each person needs to give 90 percent, though.

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