how to change

You Want To Change – So Why Can’t You?


We have all been there. We WANT to exercise more. We WANT to stop smoking. We WANT to eat healthier. We WANT a new job this year. And we REALLY WANT these things. We explore goal-setting websites, we set goals, we have the best intentions and we try and change our behavior.

It works. For a month or two and then our good intentions and resolve start whittling away and most of us realize we are back where we started.

Obviously, a lot of this depends on the goals you set. You need to set achievable, realistic and measurable goals. But there is more to that. There are other things we need to pay attention to.

Motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar captured it succinctly, “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win and expect to win.” And this is where we fall short sometimes.


Goals are great but to just trust your resolve to achieve your goal is not sustainable. To persist, we need to plan and prepare for them. Otherwise, they get knocked about in our everyday life and finally get relegated to something that we should do once the madness of life settles down.

For example, if your goal is to go to the gym three times a week and you’ve got a gym membership, you’ve packed your gym bag and you have left it in the office, that’s all great. But you can’t just stop there. You also need to think about your lifestyle and think when the best days and times you can fit in this task.

After work? Great, unless you work in a place which frequently has impromptu after work pub sessions that you hate to miss. If that’s the case, lunch time is probably a better option. And ensure that you don’t schedule any meetings close to lunchtime on those days.

If you don’t factor this in, what’s most likely going to happen is that you will go to the gym 3 times a week for about 3 weeks. And in the fourth week, you will have had a bad day at work and you will decide to skip one gym session for an after-work drink and then instead of skipping once, it’ll be twice and soon, your gym bag will be part of the long forgotten stash if items under your table.


This is actually more insidious than people realize. At work, I have lots of colleagues who are trying / have given up smoking and I realize there is a key difference in the way those who’ve given it up and those who are trying and still failing talk about the task:

Successful quitters:

Yeah. Done with smoking. It was costing too much money and my wife doesn’t like it as well.

Instead of smoke breaks, I’m taking fresh air breaks and going for a walk around the building.

I threw away all my cigarettes. And when my usual gang goes for smoke breaks, I just make myself a cup of tea now.

I stopped going to the shops where I usually get my cigarettes.

Unsuccessful quitters:

I’ve seen a hypnotist and that’s sorta helping me but yeah, I want to quit but work is so stressful and I really need a break sometimes.

It’s really difficult. I’ve been trying to quit for years. I’m giving it a try again. We’ll see how it goes this time. But it’s really taking a lot of effort.

I’m going to try and be good but yeah, I do have some cigarettes in the drawer just in case I need it. You never know.

There’s almost a sense in the second group that this is a difficult task and it’s going to take a lot of effort to get it done and also it seems like they are not expecting to beat their smoking habit. Whereas for the first group, the sense that they might fail is not even popping up. A decision has been made and they seem to be quite sure they will stick with it and there are not preparing for failing (e.g. having a just-in-case cigarette stash).

And that is the thing with most of us. We WANT to stop smoking but we believe we can’t. We WANT to lose weight but we think it’s too difficult and we’ve tried it before and this time, we will try again with this new diet but really, we don’t think it’s going to happen. We WANT a new job but the job market out there is bad and the CV is not spectacular, etc. We are not really expecting success. This actually shocks most people.

So closely monitor how you speak about your goals with others. That will give you important clues on whether you actually do think you will achieve your goals. Reversing these unconscious barriers will go a long way in helping you change your behavior.

Remember, you were born to win.

Shoba Haridas is a Project Manager for marketing campaigns and her focus is setting goals and making them measurable. Over the past year, she has tried several experiments in goal setting in her own personal life and has achieved success with some and has pretty much forgotten the rest. She is also a certified Feng Shui consultant and regularly writes on her blog, on all issues Feng Shui.

  • Stop

    Stop using this forum to attack one person. Tell the person asking you to ghostwrite trash you are not interested.

  • Part of the problem is many people talk about change, but how many *truly* want it? Everybody thinks they want change. And sure, on a superficial level they do.

    But that’s not enough.

    The desire for change must be real. Deep. Profound. Because real change requires sacrifice. It means losing a part of  your identity . . . a part of you. And it requires hard work to replace that bit of you with something better.

    That is the reason so few ever make significant change. Changing habits requires changing yourself, and changing yourself is one hell of a daunting task.


  • I agree. In the words of the famous guru Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

    • Completely agree with that, and Yoda is one of my top ten heroes, too. The main question is if you really want to do something, or just appearing to want? If you really want something, you create solutions, make plans, and follow them through. If not, you keep on creating excuses. Solvers win; excusers don’t even start.

  • Another thing that hinders people from truly making a change is the slow progress that they are seeing. The fact of the matter is, change takes time to accomplish. We need to be patient and persevere.

  • mr jazzlegs

    So wrong. People have different brain chemistry – THAT is the primary reason it is easier to quit smoking for some than others. Read up on Dopamine and Acetylcholine.

  • Human beings hate behavioral changes. We are slaves of our habits.

  • A woman is obese, she tried diets before, nothing works. Then she’s at a party and breaks a chair. Suddenly there is a shift in how she sees the world and nothing stops her losing weight, within a year she’s shed most of the weight.

    A guy has smoked for years, wears the patches, has tried to stop via willpower for years but each time the same old story occurs, he’s out with his friends and suddenly the offer of a cigarette. then he sees his 6 year old with a pencil motioning having a cigarette. Suddenly he sees a different perspective and nothing will stop him giving up the cigarettes.

    Change can happen in an instant, it is the desired EFFECT of that change that can take time, that requires more than willpower because new neural connections have to be laid in the brain and the effect of mylination to take place.

    A lot of the time people want to change, but that is just an abstract notion of doing something different to what they are doing at the moment. To change fully requires a process of knowing exactly what is going to happen next. This sets off the dopamine as Mr jazzlegs mentions and creates the ‘motivation’ that people talk about.

    The Confidence Lounge

  • Great advice Shoba! Just in time too as I plan to get started back at the gym. Will be taking the tips into consideration too, just to add I think when we make any small progress in making changes in their life building in a celebration process helps, e.g. even though my goal is to attend the gym 3 times a week even if I go once would be a great start. so instead of beating myself up I would celebrate, which would give me the motivation to keep trying :) again great article and advice!  

  • Brilliant post.

    I think that what makes a person decide to change and stick to the plan is resolve. Resolve will depend on how much the person wants it. Many people want a change in passing or just casually; whereas for some people they want it with every fiber of their being and fully understand why it is crucial to make the change, and have come to terms with the sacrifices that will be required to make the change happen.In essence, making a change  that requires some effort will depend to what degree you want it and how important you feel it is for you.

  • I gave smoking up 5 years ago using a card with the quote “I am a non smoker and this is so” Make a choice and stick too it.

  • I feel like changing habits isn’t that hard, if you are really determined to change your behavior. If you are having issues changing your daily life to achieve your goal, you don’t want it badly enough and should re-evaluate where you want to see change in your life. 

  • Hassan Butt Ravian

     Nice article.The part I loved was having positive and empowering self talks with your self.Talking with certainty and faith makes us go a long way towards incredible life change.

  • DavidH

    Homie g

  • DavidH

    I like hoes!

  • DavidH

    Single and horny baby!!!!

  • DavidH