Why Can’t I change?

Burnout and Stress Management


We all know people who “try” to change or give up a habit for a long time and fail, only to make that change overnight when a major event comes along. The smoker who was told he had to get some tests done on his lung and that same day, quit and never looked back.

Yet, for most of us, changes elude us. We know we “should” change this or that: I should lose weight, I should change job, I should exercise more, I should go back to school… We all have a list of “shoulds” that annoy us, but we know in our heart of heart that we won’t ever change. It does not matter that we know all about the health benefits of being lighter or exercise. It does not matter that we could make more money and be happier in a new job… The fear of the unknown is stronger than the perceived benefit.

What do I mean by this?

A “should” is a problem that you know about but are not motivated to address. It is annoying you, but it is minimal or the consequences are not real to you. One day I may get diabetes or I may find myself without a job, but it is not real. However what is real, is that we have no idea what the changed situation could be. Do you know how you would feel if you were 10 pounds lighter? Probably, but you also know that you had to “starve” to achieve that weight. Or, you don’t know if you would like the new job, there is no telling that you will fit in with the team and that this big pay rise will require you to work harder and longer hours, making this whole change totally unworthy and risky.

As long as the pain/risk/uncertainty of the wished-for situation is perceived as being greater than the status quo, no change will ever take place.

So when clients come to me saying “I have tried everything to change and nothing has worked”, I know that it will be simple. Find the reasons they want to change, what preventing them from achieving that goals and making sure that the current situation they are in is less and less appealing.

Simple? YES!

– Establishing a compelling future

After establishing what the client wants to change, I focus on the why? Why is the person try to change? What is the end goal? Weight loss is futile in itself, but if the weight prevents the person from running and playing with his kids because he gets exhausted too quickly, then the motivation is not to loose weight but to be able to play with his kids, to be present for his kids. He was focusing on a mean to an end, rather than the end goal. Needless to say that the motivation factor is greater for spending time with kids and having fun than for starving in order to fit in a smaller sized trousers.

It is really common for people to not focus on the “right” goal. The right goal is the one that will motivate them, that will push them outside their comfort zone and that will allow them to grow and achieve their goal and most importantly to maintain it.

A client came to me because he wanted to make more money and therefore was looking at a new job but did not seem to be able to find it. He was really struggling and he was growing more worried by the day about being able to care for his family. So I asked him, why do you want to work? and his answer was beautifully simple: “Because I want to be able to provide for my family, I want to to be a model for them and show them how a man is supposed to take care of his family.” It was not about the money, it was about being a good role model for his kids. Within a month, he had found a great job paying more than his previous job, where he was happy and excelled at.

Change your end goal and you will change your outcome!

– Eliminating fear.

When goals are established and yet success is still eluding people, quite often there is an element of self-sabotaging. The aspect of “I am not worth it, I don’t deserve this, I don’t want to draw attention to me”. Consciously or unconsciously, if one is struggling with this kind of thoughts, it will be difficult to achieve and/or maintain the desired goal.

How many people lose the weight, only to regain it and some? How many people are seeking jobs and applying only to be rejected when they are absolutely qualified. It frustrates them, it frustrates the people around them… and at some point, they feel defeated and they give up.

With questions such as “What is the up-side of keeping this problem?” or “What is the down-side of resolving this issue?”, people explore their beliefs. Their first reaction is usually of course I want to change, there is no up-side to this problem? then they usually think about it and continue more quietly: Well, of course, there is…. and they go on to tell a little of themselves that may hold the key to their situation.

Everybody fears something, the basic fears: Fear of being rejected and fear of not being enough. Nobody likes changes because it introduces uncertainty in our life and the situation we are currently in, is one that is known and is therefore safe.

Crazy? Really? Think about it.

You know the situation you are in, you know how it feels to be in that job, you know how it feels to be a little on the heavy side. You KNOW your life with its problem. You define yourself with this problem. I am not happy in …. I am! So you can’t imagine a life without this problem. You have no idea HOW it would look like. What people would think of you if you change, they might not like you anymore, they might mock you, they might reject you. So unconsciously you sabotage your success to make sure that you belong, that you remain within the group, that you retain your personality, one that is powerless and a victim.


Yet, it is easier to be motivated to reinvent yourself if you are aiming for a compelling goal. Something that truly energize you, motivate you, move you to your core.

Goal setting is so important. With the right goal in mind, nothing is impossible.

Choose wisely, and let fly!


Change is always within you. You always have the choice. But you have to have the confidence to dare! To take a risk on you!

If you are struggling with change, or with sticking with your goals, send us an email at joelle@joellespractice.com or contact us here and let’s get this process going.

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