You talk about how you want something different in your life – a new house, a better relationship with your spouse (or to find a spouse), get out of debt, or lose weight – but nothing changes. You find that you spend (waste) a lot of time talking about it, but not doing anything about it.

How do you motivate yourself to change?

There are two ways people will change, either by choice or by force. Neither one is very pretty.

Change by Force
‘By force’ means that you have no choice. For example, you lose your job so you have to find a new one. Your doctor gives you bad news about your health so now you have to lose weight…or else suffer the consequences. Your husband is having an affair; this forces you to divorce.

There are times when you know you need to change and you think about it, but instead of being proactive like seeking new employment before your workplace lays you off or talking to financial planner before you go into foreclosure, you sabotage things. You wait until things get so bad you are forced into action.

Force is not pretty because you cannot choose to move forward and create something new; you HAVE to or else suffer the consequences.

Change by Choice
The other option is to CHOOSE change. Choosing to change means that you have become willing to do whatever it takes to make a change in your life. You sacrifice your ‘comforts’ of the way things are in exchange for the hopes of something better.

Choosing change is great in that it allows you to be proactive. Instead of waiting for the forces of fate to push you into moving and making a change, you take the actions needed to move forward.

This isn’t pretty either because any way you look at it, change is hard. There are forces at work that are meant to keep you right where you are. For instance, fear is a big obstacle to change. So are habits.

But fear of the consequences is also a motivator for change. If you are scared to die, and most people are, then you might be more willing to give up greasy foods as recommended by your doctor so you can continue to live and enjoy yourself, your relationships, and your work.

Overwhelm is another big hurdle to change. You see all that needs to be accomplished in order to change and you become overwhelmed. This DE-motivates you, or, rather, motivates you to continue along your current path no matter how unhappy you may be.

So how does one break through the barriers and choose change?

Two Motivators for Change

We humans will move toward pleasure and away from pain. It’s that simple. But not so easy.

People endure a lot of pain without realizing it. You put up with so much stuff that you do not like, that causes you pain and frustration and aggravation. You hold tight to old wounds and repeat damaging behaviors. Day after day, you are bombarded by life’s negative forces and you do battle, often without realizing just how much of a fight you withstand. Until, of course, at the end of the day when you crash from exhaustion!

You might also have much difficulty being happy and enjoying pleasurable experiences. It may sound funny, but true happiness comes from within; in a world where most people are so busy and full of worry, happiness and joy is left on a wish list somewhere.

Change is possible.
You can learn to sensitize yourself to your pain. You can also learn how to be happy and enjoy yourself. But you cannot do either if you are running on a treadmill. You have to slow down enough to assess your life and learn about yourself – your likes, your dislikes, what makes you unhappy or uncomfortable, where you are frustrated or angry – before you can begin to change anything.

So here is your coaching challenge; it is twofold.
1) Pay attention to your emotions and identify what frustrates you or annoys you in your life. Where are you angry, disappointed, or uncomfortable? List these things in a notebook. Identifying them and writing them out is cathartic in that it raises your awareness and you become sensitive to where you are hurting. Many of these items you can eliminate quite easily. Others will take some time. Go slow – there is no rush.

We start with identifying what hurts because this way we can create space for what feels good. Many people have so much pain that they don’t know what they want; they just know they cannot take it anymore!

If you know you want something better in your life that’s great! But don’t skip doing the exercise above. You are still living with annoyances and old hurts that will hold you back and interfere with happiness and success if you continue to allow it. You first have to unearth these things so you can deal with them.

2) What do you envision for yourself? What do you want? What would make you happy? A vision is a compelling force that will solidify your commitment and pull you toward it. It provides direction for your thoughts and actions. Without vision, how will you know where you are going? You will continue to be buffeted by the circumstances of the day, throwing your power to the wind.

Identify your pain; envision your pleasure. Start saying no to what feels bad and start thinking about and considering what feels good. That’s your work for now. Let me know how I can support your success.

Author's Bio: 

Does Change have to be so H.A.R.D.? Julie Donley, a psychiatric nurse and author of this essential book on change, was tired of life being SO hard and went in search of an easier way. What she found was quite intriguing: “Hard or easy, it’s how you think about it!” Want to learn more? Contact to arrange a free 30-minute coaching session to learn how you too can change a HARD challenge to something EASY. An addiction and change expert, Julie is named one of the top 100 thought leaders in her field. She has published hundreds of articles and is author of several works including Does Change have to be so H.A.R.D.? and The Journey Called YOU: A Roadmap to Self-Discovery and Acceptance. Visit to learn more about her work, sign up for her newsletter or arrange to have her speak at your next meeting or conference.