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Is Change Hard?

Witch trying to change prince into frogI read a blog post recently on the topic of change written by another Life Coach.

It went on to say that if we aren’t prepared for the ‘fact’ that change is hard then we are likely to fall flat on our faces when trying to make positive improvements.

I was tempted to leave a comment saying, “picking your nose is hard and if you aren’t prepared for that fact you will almost certainly poke your own eye out or eat your own finger”.

I didn’t though, largely because I am trying to ease off in my role as CEO of the Universe and accept there are incompetent and ill informed Life Coaches and that won’t change no matter how many eye rolls I indulge in.

Change In Constant

Since you have started reading this post you have undergone numerous changes at a cellular level as well as shedding some skin and maybe losing a hair or two.

The you who is reading now is almost an entirely different you to the one of 10 years ago, and the one of 10 years ago was different to the one from a decade prior to that.

I’m sure you were not struggling to make those changes. In fact I’m confident for the most part you weren’t even aware as they happened, because you’re in a constant state of flux.

Which is kind of cool, because so is everybody else on the planet and every living creature too.

The paradox is that the one thing that is happening to you all the time is the one thing you resist the most. The one thing you think is difficult and painful is the one thing you are best at.

You may think you’re an outlier and embrace change and in some situations that may well be true, but in others you will resist with all your might.

As an extreme example, you will almost certainly resist your own death. If you get sick you will seek help to restore the status quo because that’s not the kind of change you want to see happen.

But there will be more prosaic examples.

Maybe it’s a career change that you know deep down will be good for you, ending a disempowering or abusive relationship, quitting smoking or clinging on to your favorite M.C. Hammer pants.

Change Is Easy

The actual process of change is very, very, easy.

With leaving an abusive partner, the actual walking out the door bit is not difficult, presuming that is, you know how to open a door.

Starting a new job is easy. All that’s entailed is arriving at your new place of work, probably signing a few forms, being shown around and introduced to your collegues and hey presto, you’ve started!

As for quitting smoking, that’s the easiest thing in the world because you don’t have to do anything. How easy is it not to buy cigarettes?

I don’t smoke and I can assure you I have no problem whatsoever not buying cigarettes every single day.  I don’t go into the store, don’t ask for a pack of cigarettes and don’t give them any money.

And as you know the way to the trash bin and presumably also have a hand to pick your M.C. Hammer pants up with then they can be gone quicker than his career.

You think of change as being difficult, not because it is, but because you are told it is and the process of getting to the point where you do the change can look difficult, or even overwhelming.

And the reason that you think of the process of change as being difficult is because (presuming you’re like most people) you construct images of what could go wrong, how much preparation there is to do and how uncomfortable you’ll feel.

  • What if I don’t like my new job? What if my boss is horrible, my co-workers don’t like me or the work is too difficult?
  • What if I can’t find another partner? Or f I can’t find anywhere to live, or worse still if I end up with an even more abusive person than previously?
  • What if I get cravings? What if I fold after one too many beers at the Christmas Party in 6 months? And how will I cope if I get mega-stressed, because smoking always calms me down?
  • What if M.C. Hammer has a huge comeback and Hammer Time comes round again just I have thrown my yellow striped satin pants in the trash?

And so you build up change as this huge great unconquerable demon who stands 30 feet tall, breathes fire and farts bullets.

The Case For The Prosecution

The truth however is somewhat different and the evidence that you’re more capable than you give yourself credit for, is not just compelling, but totally and utterly devastating.

No attorney on the planet would defend the argument that you cannot deal with change, because they tend to be clever people and they know they’d lose every single time.

What was the last change that happened in your life that you didn’t deal with?

Give it some thought.

If you are struggling to pick one don’t worry because I can answer the question for you.

There isn’t one.

You have dealt with every single piece of adversity life has thrown at you, and the reason I know that is because you are here right now reading this blog post.

Sure there may be events in your past that you wished you’d handled with more aplomb, equanimity, grace or humor, but you still dealt with them, they didn’t kill you.

You have more toughness, more resilience, more tenacity, more adaptability and more resolve than you ever give yourself credit for.

The reason I get irritated with Life Coaches making silly blanket statements such as, “change is hard” is because firstly there are billions of examples where people have changed with ease, but more importantly, it creates a belief that things will be hard.

The Power Of Your Belief System

If you set out to make some beneficial changes in your life believing they will take months of hard work and even then they may not come to fruition you exponentially increase the likelihood that it will takes months of hardwork and may not come to fruition.

Some Life Coaches may want you to think change is hard because that way they convince you to sign up for long-term contracts and you set off on the journey believing that’s how long it will take because your coach said so.

Actually that may be a tad harsh. I think with a handful of coaches it’s like that, but with many more they simply don’t know any better.

However, the biggest indicator of how successful you will be is not the Life Coach you work with, the money you spend, the affirmations you utter, the books you read or the prayers you say, it’s the beliefs you hold.

Of course some of the above things can help bolster your belief system and I recommend doing anything legal, moral or ethical that does likewise, but they are tools to help you, they aren’t the reason you will or will not succeed.

Without belief you are not necessarily bound to fail, but you are going to increase the likelihood exponentially.

There’s an amazing story about the power of the belief, a story that when I first was told it on my Life Coach training I simply didn’t believe it.

If this story doesn’t blow you away and make you fully appreciate the power of your beliefs, then you are either dead, in denial or dead and in denial.

Coach The Life Coach Final Trial

I’m trying to keep my Coach the Life Coach site separate from this one.

However, if you are a coach or plan to be one I just wanted to give you the heads up that there are only 2 places left on the course that starts weekend of Augusts 10th.

For more details you can check out the Coach The Life Coach site.

 

 

 

25 comments to Is Change Hard?

  • Scott Byrd

    this was a f’ng great post! Much, much value.

  • Thanks for this great post, Tim! And thanks also for all the value you bring to the world and who you are. ツ

  • Cyndi De Rossi

    Yessss! I was just discussing this with someone today! Nicely said Tim! As usual, a brilliant post!!

  • Bill Thornhill

    I’ve always believed in the personal power to change. And its one simple example that made me believe it, and from an early age. As a young kid I was a terrible nail biter. I was one of those who would bite them down to the skin and end up with them bleeding and sore. No I look back it was probably due to social anxiety issues at the time, as I was a pretty shy kid.
    One day I bite my nail and made it bleed. I looked down and said to myself, “I’m not doing this anymore”. From that day on I never bit my nails again.
    It was a simple thing, but it proved to myself that I was in control of my life, and that I could change anything within me when I was ready to.

    Loved the story about Cliff Young btw :)

  • Bill Thornhill

    I really need to re read before I post. Sorry for the awful grammar :-/

  • sue

    hmm, I would suggest that some change is not hard, not all of it of course, but some of the bigger things are hard. You said so yourself in the article. Change can be scary, and we will find reasons why it is not the time to change right now. That is why people stay longer than they should in a situation that is no longer serving them. That is why some need a coach to give them that push they need to take the step. That is why business managers are trained in change management in order to help people cope with change when they are not ready to. So dare I suggest that maybe the other coach was referring to such situations? Okay, maybe he was trying to drum up business, although he runs the risk that pronouncing change is hard will backfire. If people acknowledge that change can be hard, then they will go into it with their eyes wide open and prepared to put in the effort so they do not give up at the first thing that maybe does not go to plan. It takes 90 days to reinforce a new habit, that could be a long time off the ciggies or at the gym, or whatever else it is we are trying to do, it may not be quite as easy as you are suggesting.

    • Like you I can only guess what the motives were so who’s to say for sure?

      Change itself isn’t scary, change happens in an instant, it’s the thought of change that scares and overwhelms people.

      And sorry Sue, but it doesn’t take 90 days to reinforce a new habit anymore than it takes 30 days.

      A habit is merely a replicated and often autonomic behavior that can form over months, years or even decades, but probably not a few weeks.

      Let’s suppose you want to build a habit of meditation and decide to devote 5 minutes per day to the task.

      And let’s also suppose your best friend wants to do the same thing, only she devotes 30 minutes twice per day.

      Who do you think is more likely to have created a habit after the arbitrary 30 days?

      You who haven’t even notched up 3 hours practice, or your friend who has devoted 30 hours?

      Of course it’s the latter, but even then it’s unlikely to be a real habit.

      Let’s suppose shortly after your friend get’s sick with the flu, and I mean the real flu not a cold that so many people complain is flu. She is laid in bed for 2 weeks and feels run down for another 2 after that.

      During that time she stops meditating completely because she simply (and quite naturally) can’t be bothered.

      Was that really a habit in the first place or just an activity she maintained through conscious and disciplined effort?

      Habits tend to be autonomic, meaning they happen without us necessarily having to actively think about them.

      Do you ever go to bed thinking “Hmm, I must remember to brush my teeth tonight”?

      Think of other habits such as nail biting, switching the TV on simply because it happens to be a certain time of day, or driving the same way to work every day even though there are other options that take a similar amount of time.

      What is the common denominator?

      None of them require conscious thought, they just happen as if my magic. Only it’s not magic, it’s your brain conserving energy.

      And the waters get even murkier when you talk about addictions like smoking, then you are in an entirely different realm.

  • Rob

    CEO of the Universe! I bet you have a killer office & desk!

  • Even though everybody and everything is in a constant state of change as you say, I think that the reason most people perceive it as hard, and try to avoid it as much as possible, is due to a biological process called homeostasis…

    Effectively every cell in your body is thinking “I am alive now so if nothing changes I will stay that way”.

    While this is really cool thinking for a cell, it’s not much use for people trying to improve their life through personal development :)

    • Excellent point Chris.

      I have said many times to clients that your body’s main aim is to get you to the end of the day still drawing breath. If it achieves that even though you drank a bottle of Jack and eat a 9 foot pizza, it thinks “job well done, we’ll do the same tomorrow!”

      I’m not sure that is the reason people think of change in the future in that way because the mind and body are so terrible about predicting how they’ll feel. Then I think it comes more down to overwhelm, but with immediate situations that most certainly does come into play.

      Thanks for bringing it up!

  • Great post!

    I’m not sure who said it, but I love the phrase, “everything is simple, nothing is easy.” Change is simple – make a different choice. It’s actually doing it that people think is hard. But it doesn’t have to be!

    I’ve just started reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – fascinating read so far on what is a habit (unconscious, shortcut, takes no thought, etc) and how to influence them. I plan to write about this once I’m done.

    I imagine you have done lots of learning about habits and altering habits as a Life Coach – any great resources you can share?

    • I really like the work of Jeremy Dean at http://www.spring.org.uk/. I bought his nook on habits, but I’m only about 10% in.

      To date I would say it’s an excellent starting point for anybody wanting to know the science behind habits rather than the Stephen Covey promoted pile of shit that most people think is true ;-)

  • Eric Rasch

    Hey Tim, I was reading through some of your past posts on NLP because I was sort of at odds with myself about it and it being ‘scientifically mothballed’ and whatnot. Here is my question for you; what parts of NLP did science ‘disprove’ and declare ‘NLP disproved’. Which exact techniques did science attack? The problem for me is, NLP is a massive collaboration of many tips and techniques which actually do work, some of which I have learned, some of which I had used before even learning what NLP is. Some parts included under the broad spectrum of NLP are truly ridiculous though, such as eye-accessing cues. My thinking is that science attacked the parts that don’t work, and then declared NLP bunk. Or that they attacked the fact that the terms that NLP made up such as subdomatlities and meta models are bunk.

    Or is it that many of the techniques that are used under the name NLP have nothing to do with Neruo-Linguistic-Prgramming, and that they don’t belong in this category at all? And that scientists disproved “Neuro-linguistic programming”, but the fact remains that there are so many things taught under this name (likely in order to get noticed) which work.I’m talking about things such (correct me if I am wrong) visualizations, imagination exercises and empowerment, self-image altering.

    I like some techniques of NLP, especially the ones that have to do with your imagination, which can change your actions, possibilities, and even your thoughts, but I feel like I cannot go further or continue my use until I find out that science has not disproved everything to do with NLP. I would like to know what exactly science has disproven and what your stance on this NLP debate is. I know you have thought much about this in the past, and I respect your mind, so I’d appreciate your thoughts.

    • Eric, firstly I agree, NLP is an umbrella term for lots of different patterns and techniques.

      I am not aware of ANY scientific research that has debunked NLP because I don’t think there has been much done, although you may have a point of eye accessing cues, I seem to remember something in the back of my mind.

      A lot of what you use and mention is not really NLP anyway and was being used, sometimes for centuries, before NLP came along. NLP gave names to a lot of things that were already in use in other guises.

      My take is simple. Does what I do work with clients irrespective of whether it had been proven or just has anecdotal evidence suggesting it may be a clients belief system?

      If it does, I use it.

  • Change is constant and it is a good thing especially if it s for the better. I also struggle with change especially when it comes to health and fitness. But I tried embracing change by incorporating exercise and healthy eating in my usually sedentary lifestyle and realized that change is not that bad. I actually felt better now.

  • Hey Tim, hope you’re not talking about me…I’ve just written about change…but wait…don’t think I said it’s hard…more that it’s inevitable.

    Was it good old Harold Wilson who said something about the only human institution which rejects change is in the cemetery? Or words to that effect.

    Life without change would bore the pants off most of us, we’d still be where we used to be and even if that was a great place ten years ago, by now it would probably be old and stale.

    Maybe it’s a change in mindset about change itself that’s needed.

    Once again, you’re a little thought provoker. :-)

  • Hi, Tim.

    Wow, really loved your article and how you write sharing your humor and perspectives with us. I teach psychic development, reiki and mediimship to others. I have a Houston group and now 2 development groups started in Kentucky.

    The reason I’m sharing this is because I’m like a coach in my own way and I’ve been discussing how the mind thinks and teaching others to think a new thought when old programming gets in the way. You have such an expressive way about yourself with words that you really get to the meat of things and I really like that about you. I’m going to copy this article and send it out to all of my members in both cities and let them see who I know enhances my own life with all that you share in your articles and suggest they sign up for your newsletters too.

    I appreciate you and your work. You are a blessing to many!

    Know what I’m grateful for in this moment? You! Yes, I just finished your article on being grateful… the dark side.

    Light & Love,

    Kim