Hint: If You're Not Ready, You Don't Have To
If you’re not ready to make that change you’ve been wanting to make, you don’t have to. When you’re ready-enough, you’ll do it. Here’s why –
Sustainable change (i.e. change that actually lasts) always happens on an emotional level before it happens on a behavioral level. That means that real change isn’t visible at first to anyone, including yourself. As with so many things in life, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. If you’re genuinely working on cultivating the mentality required to change, the behavioral part will come around when you feel ready-enough; forcing tangible change before that point just makes you yo-yo.
- Sustainable change happens on two levels: emotionally and behaviorally.
- Anyone can force themselves to do something in a certain way for a certain amount of time, but if your mind isn’t on board, the change will eventually collapse.
- You can’t “see” your mind getting on board in the same way you can see behavioral changes.
- Your mind getting on board is a process, not an event. That means it happens subtly and over time.
- Only you know when you’ve crossed the threshold of ‘ready-enough’ to make behavioral changes. For example, if your mind is 70% on board, that might be ‘ready-enough’ for you.
- There are two things that disrupt this natural process of sustainable positive change from unfolding. The first is how much self-destructive behavior you engage in during the process, the second is you waiting to be over the 80th-ish percentile of readiness.
- It doesn’t make sense for you to be 95% ready for a grand-scale change. Making meaningful changes means you’re doing something that will change your life. Change includes uncertainty, and human-beings are hard-wired to be cautious around uncertainty. If you’re not hesitant or scared on some level, the change is probably not meaningful enough.
If you look closely, you’re probably much farther along the process of creating sustainable positive change than you think. The behavioral component validates the process for yourself and others (which is nice, admittedly), but keep in mind that the behavioral part showing up means you’re at the end, so don’t give up just because you haven’t seen it yet.
No one changes perfectly, so if you stumble, go easy on yourself. If you continue to stumble and need some support in navigating the process of making sustainable positive changes, use this therapist locator or connect with me directly to link to one of the oldest traditions around, seeking counsel.