The question I am commonly asked is why it is so difficult for us, as humans, to make significant changes within ourselves?
This question often comes from those who have, on numerous occasions, began the process of subjecting themselves to the rigors of change only to find themselves gradually falling off track and then, eventually quitting.
There is a simple answer to this question. Change is not hard; it is uncomfortable. This simply means our willingness to bring about permanent and sustainable change is far more about our commitment to endure discomfort than it is about our ability to change.
Progress is Slow
Progress is often slow and, frequently, imperceptible. This barely measurable snails-pace often leads to early abandonment of the desire to change and, when coupled with both the physical and emotional pain that is frequently part of the change process, frequently causes us to lose sight of the reasons why we wished to bring about this change in the first phase.
It is said that heaven resides on the far side of hell and it is only the fully determined few who will continue to endure the pain of the journey with the full conviction that when their destination is reached the price they paid for that pain will pale into insignificance when compared with the pleasure of having reached their destination.
Winston Churchill, the man credited with leading the UK to rise up at a time when many thought it was down for the count encouraged the nation to, “Never, never, never give up.”
His advice was this: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
There is NO Instant Gratification
We all would benefit mightily by heeding his powerful advice. Many of us are seeking instant gratification for our efforts and when that is not forthcoming, we choose to not “keep going,” but instead, convince ourselves that “it is not working” and retreat, forgetting that the very behaviors and habits we are wanting to change were acquired as a result of lengthy and repeated practice.
Clients often share with me the difficulties and challenges they are experiencing as they strive to bring change to the lives. Sadly, many of them allow those difficulties and challenges to serve as catalysts that convince them to abandon the efforts early in the game.
The risk in doing this is huge. It doesn’t take many forsaken attempts to convince ourselves of the impossibility of our mission and once we reach that conclusion, we simply give up and wrongly conclude that the fully possible is impossible.
Change is not easy. It requires unrelenting commitment to sustained effort, an unshakeable belief in the inevitability of delayed gratification, an undefeatable willingness to endure pain and absolute indomitability of spirit. Learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable is not optional.
And it can be done.
Calvin Coolidge gave us the formula when he taught us, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
Words as true in the 2020s as they were in the 1920s.
Till we read again.