Why (and How) Change Happens
Think about something you would really like to change. Now, imagine yourself actively engaging in the process to change that—feeling strong, focused, and determined. What happens between the moment when we want to change and the moment when we engage? We all have something we want to change, but we often hesitate to engage because it’s exhausting, especially if it involves a high degree of uncertainty. But why is it so hard to start and to stick to it? Why does change happen?
To understand why change happens, I looked at the moments in my life when change occurred:
- What I set out to change aligned with my values (It resonated with what I wanted).
- The story I imagined of myself in action was curious, positive, and fun.
- I engaged in the process only after I truly committed to change.
But why do we fail to commit to begin something that we so desperately want to change? Could it be that we are not ready? Or that it scares us? We tend to commit when we evaluate or envision our story positively in which the benefits we are looking for outnumber our perceived risks. And honestly, that is exhausting. We worry so much and spend so much energy telling ourselves negative stories that we become stressed and we never begin. So in-between finding what we want and engaging, we must not forget to see: focusing not only on the benefits, but also about how good it feels to see yourself in action being complete—capable to grow and to begin.
Engaging in practice to change and learning to love this process seems to me like one of the most important yet underrated skills in modern times. The usual business of working under extreme pressure, being results-oriented, and multitasking is, in my opinion, the main reason why change becomes grueling. In The Practicing Mind, Thomas M. Sterner offers a refreshing alternative: “When, instead, your goal is to focus on the process and stay in the present, then there are no mistakes and no judging. You are just learning and doing. You are executing the activity, observing the outcome, and adjusting yourself and your practice energy to produce the desired result.”
Why change happens is due to our commitment. And how change happens (getting to commit) is about telling ourselves a different story: a more positive and compelling story of us succeeding and enjoying it. We commit ourselves to engage in change only after we become aware of our self-defeating story. It is probably unrealistic, unfair, and judgmental—stalling our efforts to begin. When we commit to see more positively and with more energy, change will happen.
Juan F. Diaz
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