Sometimes the hardest thing to do, and the thing that can make a huge difference in your life, is to say “I changed my mind.”
“It is amazing how many uncomfortable situations people get into and stay in because they are unwilling or afraid to admit that they’ve changed their minds.” ~ Brian Tracy
Do you know one of the main reasons people lose money in the stock market? They don’t have an exit strategy. They don’t know when to cut their losses and get out of a bad investment. Or, they think that if they just hang in there, the stock will rebound and they’ll make their money back. It seems to go against our nature to face up to a loss or a situation that is going badly and to make a change. Sometimes, one of the best things you can say is “I changed my mind.”
We stay in circumstances that are uncomfortable, unprofitable, unfulfilling, sometimes even dangerous, rather than taking the steps to make a change and improve the situation. We find it too hard to say “I changed my mind.”
Barriers To Change
What is keeping you from changing? Is there an area of your life where a change could do you good? Are you in a dead end job? Are you facing an empty nest or contemplating retirement and unsure of how to move on to the next phase of your life? Do you have a relationship on life support that desperately needs to be revived? Do you want to start doing something or stop doing something? To get in or get out?
There are all sorts of ways we keep from changing. Some are external constraints, some are internal. If I were to make a guess, I’d say at least 80% are internal. Which is really good news, because you have complete control over the internal barriers. Let’s take a look at some reasons we don’t change and what we can do about them.
The Comfort Zone
The first barrier to change is our old friend, the Comfort Zone. The pull of habit is a powerful force to keep us in the status quo. As the old saying goes, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.” Often it is easier to put up with the situation than it is to change . . . or so it seems. But little by little, small things add up until suddenly you are faced with CHANGE in capital letters, forced on you by an emergency situation that could have been avoided.
To replace a bad habit with a good one, take advantage of the comfort zone. Find ways to make it harder to do the old familiar activity and easier to do the new one you want to habitualize.
Put the candy or the cupcakes in a plastic bag inside a covered container in the back corner of the top shelf in the cabinet. Put the fresh veggies or other healthy snacks at the front of the refrigerator where they are easy to grab. Bring home fruit instead of chips or cookies. Put the TV remote in a drawer in another room where you have to get up and walk to get it. Keep the book you want to read next to the sofa, where the remote used to be.  If you want to quit smoking, clean all the ashtrays and put them in a bag in the back of a closet and throw away all your cigarettes. If you want to exercise first thing in the morning, lay your gym clothes where you see them first thing. You get the idea.
“Things will get better.”
This is a lie the Comfort Zone frequently whispers in our ear. Truthfully, sometimes things do get better. But if they aren’t better by tomorrow, or at least by next week, seriously consider if you really believe things will get better on their own.
This thought that things could be better can actually be your first step towards making a change for the better. At least you’ve acknowledged to yourself the fact that things ain’t all that great. Now, visualize what could make things better. Get in a quiet, comfortable space and really see in your mind’s eye the way you want the situation to be and the obstacles that lie before you. Then see yourself overcoming those obstacles. (By “see”, I may mean “hear” or “feel” or “think about” — however visualization works for you.) Do this for about 5 minutes, at least once a day. Again, make it easy to do until it becomes a habit.
“Change is too hard.”
Indeed, we usually perceive change as difficult — that’s what the Comfort Zone is all about. And because our perception is our reality, change becomes hard for us. However, if you change the perception, you change the reality. One way to do this is to dispute this negative belief.
Here are 4 questions you can use to dispute negative thinking:
- What is the evidence for the belief?
- What are alternatives to the belief?
- What are the implications of the belief?
- How useful is the belief?
Ask and answer these questions about your belief that change is too hard. Keep telling the truth and see if your perception that the change is too hard changes.
“My ______ might not like me if I change.”
Fill in the blank: wife / husband / family / friends / boss / employees / co-workers, etc. etc. With this statement, you are basing current behavior on a future outcome that may or may not be true.
The fact is that some people may prefer the “old you”, especially if the change makes you more independent, or gets you out from under their control. But consider that for a moment. If this is the primary reason for their interest in you, what kind of relationship is that?
If the other person is mainly interested in what they can get from you – be that money, time, or love – then this is a one-sided relationship and it would behoove you to consider the effects of continuing the relationship as it is. The people who have your best interest at heart will become your cheerleaders as you take steps to change.
“A change may make things worse.”
That may be true. But it may not be true. You can’t say with 100% certainty, either way. A change may make things better. That may be true, but it may not be. You can’t say with 100% certainty, either way.
But . . . which statement serves you better? Usually, it’s that “a change may make things better”. Now, since you can’t say with 100% certainty that either statement is true or not true, why not pick the one that best serves you?
“I don’t know what to do.”
Well, you now know 5 things to help you get started on your road to change. What is your first step? How can you begin to say, “I changed my mind”?
“I changed my mind.”
“All things are created twice,” Dr. Stephen Covey tells us in The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. The first creation is mental, created in the mind. [Covey] If you are perfectly happy and content with your life (the second creation), then you don’t need to change.
But if there are areas where you want to improve, parts of your life that could be better, begin with the first creation – change your mind. That is the necessary first step. If you find that difficult, use these suggestions to help you get a new perspective.
Don’t be hesitant, reluctant or afraid to say “I changed my mind.” That is the first step toward growth and a more authentic you. And that is embracing the Excelerated Life™!
Excelerated Focus™ — aligning your actions with your true desires — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing, of well-being, meaning, and purpose.
 The example of the TV remote and the book comes from Shawn Achor’s “20-second rule”. [See Resources.]
Achor, Shawn. The Happiness Advantage. New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2010
Covey, Stephen R. The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989