"just keep going" is bad advice

How to create change

When you want to open a sealed jar and it just won’t budge, there is little sense in repeating the same motion of unscrewing over and over again. Because, while the lid stays on, your hands start to get sweaty, muscles fatigue, and patience diminishes with every unsuccessful attempt – making it even more unlikely that the jar will open.

You probably have heard the quote by Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing yet expecting different results.” What is true for opening a jar, is true for anything that doesn’t work out the way you want it to: You need a different approach to yield a different result. It’s as simple and difficult as that. Because sometimes you’re so invested in a process that doesn’t work, that it can be difficult to actually create the change. 

So here’s an easy to follow guideline on how to start creating change:

1. Awareness for what doesn’t work for you

What doesn’t work for you? What currently doesn’t bring satisfactory results? 
Being in the lucky but unlucky situation to be unsatisfied about something is the important first step, without which the others don’t even matter. You need the  r e v e l a t i o n  that something isn’t quite (or totally not) as you would like it to be, in order to create change. Maybe it’s a situation in your job or your career at large. Maybe you are feeling off in something that is less tangible: your energy-levels, productivity, creativity, confidence.

The variety of consequences can be broad, like not head-on tackling that new amazing idea, not trusting yourself to make a change, not knowing how to proceed, feeling stuck where you are and not making the personal progress you long for. The inaction that follows, manifests in many ways, most likely resulting in feelings of contraction, smallness, resentment, guilt, maybe even despair. That’s where the awareness-part comes in. You have had the revelation that something isn’t right for you already. So you notice that sunken, shrinking feeling, don’t you? But once you’re aware of the fact that something isn’t right, you are no longer victim to those feelings. Being able to name how you feel and what that does to you, puts you in a position of greater power than before. That’s why, through awareness, you have already taken the first step in moving yourself up the scale of emotions that will eventually take you to a better place.

2. What do you want instead?

Becoming aware of what isn’t working for you, is the start to creating change. But what is it that you want instead? In order to create change from an empowered place, you need to know what it is you want instead. Just like with the awareness-part, this might seem too easy and simple a step to make an impact. But once you know the direction you are going in, opens you up to the possibilities to get there.

3. Create buy-in

After awareness and being clear on where you want to head instead, you have to create buy-in to actually do it. Some might say: „Just decide to actually do it“. „Commit to your goal“. This might work for some people, at some times. But I found that the ability to just decide, go and stick to a decision, for many people depends on their energy levels, their confidence, their support system, …

Creating change should be so important to you, that you’ll keep coming up with ways to facilitate growth towards your goal, until you start seeing results.
A way to create buy-in from yourself, is to ask yourself what the alternative would be: Where would you end up if you simply kept on going the same path? Would you like your destination? Would it make you happy? 

A quote that I love around this exact topic, is the following: „If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.“ (Lao Tzu) Now, how does that make you feel?

4. Take easy action

You need to take action in order to actually create change. Dealing with the topic / situation at hand differently, will create a different result. And as cheesy as it sounds: It’s important to not only have your goal in mind, but also the process.

Complete the following sentence: „When I want to change something, I [ … ] .“ Insert your default reaction in the brakets. None of what many people would insert here, will actually change anything: Thinking about it doesn’t change anything. Neither do planning, second-guessing yourself, asking for opinions, pondering about whether there are better options, scrolling on social media, … . 
get clear on what action you would like to take that actually brings you closer to another result. Aim at making the process itself as simple, easy, fun, and enticing as possible

5. Accountability & commitment

This one is connected to creating buy-in, and your decision to change. Be the friend that lovingly yet firmly reminds you of your goals. If it helps, write them down, pin them on the mirror, set alarms in your phone. Or get accountability with a friend / coach / mentor who will check-in with you on where you’re at.

6. Stop blaming your mindset

If you want to create change, you’ll inevitably run into resistance. For the brain and the nervous system it’s easier to stick to what they know, to travel down the same neural pathways like before; just because these are the roads that have been travelled before and therefore require less energy than creating a new pathway over time. 

In order to make it easier for you, you can bring your nervous system on board, too. A simple and effective way to do so, is breathwork. Read more about how to expand your comfort zone with breathwork here. And if you are curious about integrating breathwork for change into your life, let’s have a chat. Schedule your Explorative Breathwork Session here . It’s the perfect session for beginners or people who haven’t engaged much in breathwork before.

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Checklist for Change
  1. Awareness:
    – What doesn’t work for you? What are you unhappy / unsatisfied about?

  2. What do you want instead?
    – What do you want instead? Be specific.

  3.  Buy-In:
    – Where would you end up if you simply kept on going the same path? Would you like your destination? Would it make you happy?
    – Commit to the goal.

  4.  Action
    – What is an easy action you can take consistently to break the pattern?
    – Commit to the process.

  5.  Accountability
    – Be your own best friend by reminding & checking in with yourself. Or find an accountability-partner that checks in with you on a regular basis.

  6. Mindset isn’t everything
    – How can you create safety in your body – not only in your mind.
Inhale – Exhale – RelEase