Why Is Change So Hard?

I have been the biggest couch potato this year and my body finally screamed loud enough to convince me to start moving again. COVID in mind, I have two options: 1. to start jogging or 2. to work out at home, where I also work, sleep, eat and relax. The second seems very claustrophobic at this point, so I guess running it is? Sure. There is just the tiny detail: I don’t like exercising outside when it’s cold and dark and raining, and God forbid, snowing. I don’t like it at all!

The challenge

Anyhow, this seems the only valuable choice I have so I went to Decathlon, got myself some winter leggings, socks and a hoodie. I was ready to brace myself. I finally went for a run yesterday during my lunch break and… Well, do you know those joggers that pass you by with that look in their eyes that makes you want to take your phone out so you can call an ambulance when they surely collapse 10 steps in front of you? That was me, I had that look in my eyes and if my lungs and heart could have a look, they would have had the same one, too. Luckily, we made it back home all by ourselves! #teamwork The most terrifying thing isn’t that we almost saw the end of life in these 20min, it is that I expect myself to repeat it soon. Of course, this wild adventure got me thinking why change is so difficult. If you are wondering the same thing, I have one of the million possible answers for you today.

The discomfort

Change is difficult because after our initial motivation is gone we are left only with the discomfort, and no one likes discomfort.

Let’s take the example of sports. It is all nice and fun when we get a pair of new shorts, when we choose a gym, when we go there the first month and everything is new. We are pumped and excited. However, once those things wear out and we enter the routine stage, it’s not fun anymore. Your shorts are not new anymore. The gym is not exciting anymore. YOU are not excited anymore.

The reason

This is when change becomes hard and we have to rely on things like willpower, perseverance, commitment. Chances are your willpower muscle, just like your core muscles, needs to strengthen.

All of a sudden you are working on two, or even three, things – your fitness routine AND your willpower AND your perseverance. But where is the fun, right?

Why not quit, it’s easier, right? Yeah, but it’s not. If you really wanted the change you were after, you will want it again at some point. Then you’ll have to start all over and that’s a very demotivating and unhealthy loop.

The solutions

If you recognize yourself and your relationship with change in these words, here are three things you can do to today to make it easier on yourself:

Share the pain

It is difficult doing things alone, and it is also challenging to keep our motivation levels high by ourselves. So get yourself an accountability buddy. We can all use a friend to poke us in the ribs via Messenger and to ask us if we went jogging today. Choose a person and swear them in on this plan. If you can do the same for them, do it. Your goals don’t have to be the same, what you are looking for are support and accountability.

Spice things up

Try out new ways to accomplish your goal. I am a person who finds routine boring and this makes it very difficult for me to stick to it. I wanted to improve my morning habits but I knew I would not find it engaging to do the same thing every day. Eventually, I came up with 50 morning cards, all of which different, to help me spent the beginning of the day productively but also in a fun way. Find what works for you and bring the fun back to what you are doing.

3 Why’s and 1 What

Yes, I am inviting you to talk to yourself. Here is how it works. Let’s say you want to eat less sugar but are tempted to have a piece of cake for lunch. Ask yourself: “Why do I want cake for lunch?” “Because I am craving sugar.” “Why?” “Because I didn’t have any today.” “Why?” “Because I am trying to be healthier and eat less crap.” “So what can you do about it now?” “I can eat a normal lunch.” This technique gives you enough time to remember why you want, or don’t want, to do a certain thing and the last question – “what”, enables you to show yourself a more desired way forward. Try it, it can really help you!

Change is difficult for all of us. I truly believe that the people who succeed do so because they found enough ways to trick themselves long enough to live through the discomfort. And so can you!

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