Hoping to keep up with those commitments you’ve made for the new year? Whether your goals are academic or athletic, professional or personal, they all require one thing: change. That, in itself, can pose a challenge! We all have our reasons (or excuses) for resisting change, but sometimes the cost of staying the same is far greater than the pain we can go through in the process of change.
In their book Lifetime Physical Fitness and Wellness: A Personalized Program, Thirteenth Edition, Werner W.K. Hoeger and Sharon A. Hoeger describe some of the most common barriers to change and offer tips that can help you overcome your “reasons why not”. We’ve summarized them below, and adapted them into a list of “reasons why not”; read through the list of barriers and excuses, and see if you can apply them towards positive movement and eventual achievement of your goals, large and small.
1. “I know there are benefits, but maybe my goal isn’t so important after all.” If you want to make change, but aren’t clear on your goals, the benefits, or the specific things you need to do in order to achieve success, endeavor to become better informed about the steps involved in making those changes. This increased knowledge should also increase your clarity around your goals and values—as well as your confidence in yourself.
2. “I can do this later; I have time.” Procrastination can be one of our worst enemies. Consider this: If you start today, you’ll be that much further along than if you put off your changed or improved habits for another week, month, or year!
3. “I’ll stick out like a sore thumb if I make this change. After all, no one else is doing it.” Hoeger and Hoeger note that “…our cultural beliefs and our physical surrounding pose significant barriers to change” (51). To counteract this tendency to swim with the tide: identify someone who will be your “partner in change” and encourage you along your path to success.
4. “Just one more time won’t really make a difference…” It’s so easy to give into the things that make us immediately happy, isn’t it? But the more we indulge in that bad habit, the further away we can get from our goals (and the values we’d really like to uphold). The authors urge you to reflect on the last time you went ahead and indulged yourself… even when you knew you probably shouldn’t have. Did you really see a benefit… or did you regret it? Your answer will tell you something!
5. “The risk involved can’t be that bad. If it becomes a problem, I’ll deal with it then.” Again: think in the long term, rather than the short term. After all, you can’t predict when something will become a problem that you can’t resolve. To encourage yourself over this barrier, the authors recommend contemplating what you want your life to look like ten, twenty, thirty years from now. Make the changes that will help you, rather than hinder you, from increasing the likelihood of your vision becoming a reality.
6. “I already have so much on my plate. If I add more activities or responsibilities to my list, I’ll get overwhelmed.” Don’t try to take on all the things you want to change at once. Focus on one or two, and break those down into manageable steps. When you’ve reached your goal, or you’re comfortable taking on more, move on to the next area of change.
7. “I don’t think I can do it.” Don’t allow your fears, anxieties, or the past hinder your efforts. Recognize that you can take steps to change, and that no other person can do it for you in any event. (Read Lifetime Physical Fitness and Wellness for some great information on how to get motivated.)
8. “I’m not sure this extra effort will be worth it. Maybe what I’m doing is already good enough, after all.” Be careful: you may be minimizing the negative effects of the behavior you truly do want to change. Acknowledge that you do need to make a change, and then do the things that will bring that change about. In order to keep yourself on track, the authors recommend keeping a daily journal or log of your activity. Not only can this help you stay accountable to yourself, it also allows you to review your progress and acknowledge your own accomplishments!
9. “This won’t harm me, anyway.” Though this negative attitude certainly impacts the risk you take with regard to your health and wellness, it can have a deleterious effect on your personal or professional life as well. To wit: if you neglect opportunities to develop your knowledge and skills because you already feel you “know enough,” or if you fail to listen to your friends’, supervisor’s, or colleagues’ warnings about potential blind spots, this inaction or rejection of important information can prove detrimental to the overall “health” of your career, relationships, and success (however you measure it). (Hoeger and Hoeger, 51-52)
Though none of us can predict the future, it’s certainly wise to take steps that lead towards the fulfillment of our ideas and our ideals. As Hoeger and Hoeger write: “…initiating change right now will help you enjoy the best possible quality of life for as long as you live” (52). So, whether you’re seeking improved health and wellness, you’re hoping to reach new levels in your professional development, or you’re hoping to jumpstart a new project or initiative, start now and watch how far you’ll go when you persist in positive actions and resist the tendency to put off change.
All the best to you as you strive towards your goals!
Reference: Hoeger, Werner W.K. and Sharon A. Hoeger. 2015. Lifetime Physical Fitness and Wellness: A Personalized Program, 13th ed.
What are your strategies for making change and successfully reaching your goals? Share your ideas below.