Why It’s So Hard To Change

“People don’t resist change so much as they resist BEING changed” – Unknown

We’re all creatures of habit. We become that way because we need some degree of certainty in our lives. If we had to reinvent ourselves and our actions each day, very little would ever get done.  So we need familiar routines to get us safely through each day. But when we try to change these routines, or habits, it’s then that we run into trouble.

Researchers know that willpower is important when we try to change. In fact, it’s now well established that willpower shrinks the more it is used, rather like a muscle that gets overworked. It’s even more difficult if the change is visited upon us from the outside, as our “will” to change is even weaker to begin with.

Our will to change, in contrast to our ability to change, is at the heart of most change efforts. In harnessing our will to change, we bring much needed emotional and psychological resources to bear on the change effort. When these resources run low, we need to renew them, and we do that by activating several well known strategies, such as caffeine, food, inspiration, humor, and…sleep. So perhaps taking a short nap in the afternoon is not such a crazy idea after all!

Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., even makes the assertion that leaders tend to have more willpower, and more willpower failures, and issues a caution to those leaders who feel invincible when it comes to willpower. Don’t say you weren’t warned!

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