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.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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