Why You Suck At Change

When people think about change, many times they’re gripped with fear because they future-think. Do you future-think? It goes like this …

- “If I quit eating tortured, raped, and brutally slaughtered animals today (the food you’ll eat for lunch), what will happen in 3 years when I’m hiking through the forest?”

- “If I quit smoking today, what will happen if I start again next week?”

- “If I stop drinking soda, what will I drink with dinner?”

- “If I quit my job and travel the world, what happens if I get tired of traveling?”

- “If I go on a date with this girl (or guy) what if it’s boring?”

- “If I stop hanging out with my toxic friend, who will I hang out with?”

- “If I start a blog today, what if it’s not popular in a year?”

- “If I say “yes” more instead of “no” what will happen with my free time?”

- “If I begin a workout program, what if I don’t lose enough weight?”

Or whatever.

All of this “if-ery” only results in one action: no action.

How To Embrace Change

How about this? Do what you need to do, today.

Tomorrow is another day. And you haven’t lived it yet. So don’t think about it yet.

“But it’s not that easy.”

Yes, it is.

Can you stop eating meat for this minute? Yes. Cool. How about just for one meal? Yes? Cool. How about just for one day? Yes? Fantastic! Now whenever it’s time to eat ask yourself that again.

Can you stop smoking this minute? Yes? Cool. Can you get through the rest of the day? I think you can. What can you do in place of smoking the next time you have a craving?

If you don’t think you can make change happen I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit. We’re amazing creatures and we can accomplish great things, but sometimes we talk ourselves out of doing epic shit.

Stop talking …

{ 47 comments }

paurullan

I just wanted to say thank you ;)

Karol

You’re welcome Pau! :)

Christopher Sharpe

Great post! I would also add – forget about yesterday. I’ve you’ve had bad experiences or failed at something in the past, don’t let that affect positive change for your future.

Karol

Definitely. Yesterday is another problem, but it would convolute the “what if” message. I could have added “What if the same thing that happened before happens again?” Thanks dude!

Lach

Despite my reputation this is one time when I’m going to have to agree with you, Karol. I know, I’m disappointed too. This kind of thinking held me back for a long time: anxiety that whatever decision I made I would have to stick with forever. Especially paralysing when you’re choosing between two alternatives which might be mutually exclusive in the short term, but don’t necessarily need to be in the long term. E.g. stressing out over choosing the right “career” instead of just thinking about what you’d like to do right now. Oh my god, the pressure!

Karol

The planets have aligned! ;) Thanks Lach!

“Especially paralysing when you’re choosing between two alternatives which might be mutually exclusive in the short term, but don’t necessarily need to be in the long term.” <– great point

Karen

Great advice! This reinforces a suggestion that I read about recently designed to help you not get too focused on what will happen in the future. When you are getting too concerned about future outcomes, you should ask yourself, “How am I doing right now?”

I use this all the time! I have found that most of my difficulties are just worries about the “what if’s” not what is actually going on at any given moment. Thanks again!

Karol

You summed it up perfectly right here: “I have found that most of my difficulties are just worries about the “what if’s” not what is actually going on at any given moment.”

Thanks Karen!

Kellie Kowalski

Great post Karol. As someone who manages to talk myself out of shit (or at least yo-yo back and forth), this is something I totally needed to hear.

Karol

Thank you Kellie. :)

Casey Friday

The only thing worse than future-think is the fact that it comes back constantly. So if you defeat it one day, there’s no guarantee it won’t come back in a week. This is why it’s a good idea to set daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals – so that you can assess constantly and see your progress.

Great stuff, Karol.

Karol

Yes, it does come back … if you consistently let it win. Eventually, it won’t take such a stronghold on your thoughts. This takes practice.

Randy

“But it’s not that easy.”
Yes, it is.

LOVE IT! :)

Karol

:) Thank you Randy!

Emily Youngs

OMG that’s exactly what I do! On the positive side, I guess I’m not the only one who does this…

Future-think is my biggest enemy.

Karol

I wrote this for you Emily. ;)

Greg

It sounds like fear is a big element in future-think. For some, the fear of an unknown future is more frightening than the dissatisfaction of the known past and present. Or, perhaps the known is comfortable and we learn to settle, especially if we feel isolated. Thanks for the wake-up call and for creating community here.

Karol

Yes, it’s definitely fear as well as simply over-thinking. Thank you Greg! :)

steve loya

Excellent post Karol! I think this kind of mindset is our biggest barrier to good change. In hindsight, sometimes we realize how ridiculous our future think can be, but it’s easier to exert more energy in making excuses than to actually make a change. Great examples too!

Karol

Thanks Steve. You’re right on: it’s definitely easier to make excuses than to do something.

Laurie

I had to squash the “what-ifery” a couple months ago when I made the decision to put my house up for sale so I could quit my soul-sucking day job and begin an independent internet-based career…my brain kept going “what if it doesn’t work?” and that was paralyzing. So I wrote a journal entry about the very worst thing that could happen…basically, I’d end up broke and have to crawl back to live with my parents and admit I’d failed. BUT, if that happened, the world would not end and no one would die (even me!). And that realization helped me leapfrog the “what if” demon, and I’m on my way to freedom…
Laurie

Karol

Congrats on leap-frogging the “what if” demon Laurie! :)

Sarah

I’m terrible with small changes, but fine with big ones – generally because the big changes are my decisions and the small ones are not. My name is Sarah and I’m a control freak. The last line is spot on though, I need to learn to make my brain shut up.

Karol

We all have problems with our brains. That’s why practicing not over-thinking helps. It’s not an overnight solution, but you get better over time. Thanks Sarah! And Happy Birthday again!

David Damron

Yo dude…

I swear I didn’t know you were posting a change article today. I always admit to stealing your brilliance when I do it on purpose but this time it wasn’t…
http://lifeexcursion.com/why-you-need-life-change/

David Damron

Karol

:) I know you didn’t do it on purpose. Thanks dude!

Jason Dudley

/agree! Future thinking also takes out out of the present moment too.

Karol

It sure does. :)

Stefan

So true Karol! I’m listening to the audio version of ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle at the moment. It basically comes down to the same thing. Most of us worry to much and think about the past and the future too much. The only time you will ever live is now, in the present. There is no such thing as the future and therefore we need to live now!

Karol

“There is no such thing as the future and therefore we need to live now!” – Exactly!

Thank you so much Stefan!

Trever Clark

Hey Karol – Rather than worrying about the future, I actually tend to over-romanticize it. I’m sometimes guilty of having my head so far in the clouds with planning for the future that I forget to live for today.

It’s so important to strike a balance. I like to indulge my flights of fancy, as they tend to keep me motivated. At the same time, though, I like to use my running as a kind of Zen practice to keep myself grounded.

Karol

Thanks Trever. Worrying and romanticizing are similar in that way … they both keep you from living for today.

Arvind Devalia

As you say, Karol – we are amazing creatures and we can accomplish great things.

The key is to get started TODAY.

Good luck everyone – go and create some amazing stuff – or as Karol would say -”epic shit” !!!

Karol

Thank you Arvind! I stole “epic shit” from Charlie Gilkey –> http://www.productiveflourishing.com/ :)

Galen Pearl

Oh, gosh, I laughed out loud at your examples. Surely we all see ourselves in these statements. Wonderful. Your post reminded me of this quote. “Open the door of your treasure today, for tomorrow the key will not be in your hands.” –Sa’di

Karol

Thank you Galen. :)

Rosa

“Do what you need to do, today” I like it :)

Karol

Thank you Rosa. :)

Usha

Oh so true! Sighs!

Paul Serwin

People always tend to limit their potential. If you don’t start thinking ahead, and what changes you have to make to have a brighter future, you will remain stuck. The people who I’ve met that are most afraid of change are the people who complain the loudest about the situation they’re in. These are the people who think that life’s dealt them a shitty hand, but when the opportunity presents itself to better themselves, they’re scared.

It’s important for the fear of regret of not doing something, to be larger than the fear of failure.

Karol

Thanks Paul. Most people have trouble figuring out fear of regret and fear of not doing something. It’s too difficult to speculate and it mostly leads to inaction. The truth is, when we’re scared of doing something it usually means we *must* do it.

scholastica amel

This is exactly how I managed to quit smoking. Live for today.There’s no tomorrow. Tomorrow is a lie. Always is.

Too much “what if” will wrinkle the soul. Live for today and be young at heart :)

Great post!

Karol

Woohoo! Congrats on quitting smoking Scholastica! You rock.

Eric

Nice post – people always get caught up in fear of change, but to really enjoy life you have to grow to actually enjoy change – it’s life’s only constant.

Karol

You got it Eric. :)

Tonya

Thank you! I have spent the majority of my life doing this and didn’t even realize it. Over the last year I’ve made steps to break the cycle. Today I wrote my first post on a blog I started 17 weeks ago. It took me that long to stop the what ifs and “JUST DO IT ALREADY”. You can’t realize your full potential if you just sit around thinking about it. So here goes nothing. Thanks again and keep up the great posts.

Karol

Congrats on breaking through and doing it Tonya. :)

{ 4 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post:

More To Explore