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Forcing Change Doesn’t Work

The Problem with Self-Help Trends

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

― Aristotle

I wrote an article on a while back about advice and why all of it is relative. It is relative to each person’s situation. And that article made me think about how we sometimes force ourselves to do things others are doing because it worked for them.

But forcing change doesn’t work.

Many of us are looking for a change. We want to change aspects of our life for the better. And many of us look to the internet, self-help articles, and books to help us in this quest. A lot of articles will share what the author has done to improve, and many have great information if you put what is written into action.

But trying to force yourself to do something you know you won’t do is a waste of time. And forcing change is an easy way to set yourself up for failure.

Trends Are Not Always Right

forcing change
Photo by Kris Atomic on Unsplash

There is a trend in self-improvement to wake up at 4 or 5 a.m. While this may be doable for some, many can’t get up that early. You might be able to for a couple of weeks, but it is not a long-term solution to your problems.

If you force yourself to get up at 4 a.m., it will only make you more tired, and it will increase your problems if you try to do it all at once. If you normally wake up at 7 a.m., you won’t be able to go from that time to 3 hours earlier. Your body does not adjust that fast and it will leave you feeling worse.

If you already wake up at 4:30 a.m., it will not be that significant of a change. But let’s be honest, most people don’t already wake up that early.

We are also taught we need everything now. We are hell-bent on achieving whatever it is we want to do in the least time possible. Unless you are lucky, achievement takes time. And as much as the internet sells it to you, there are no legitimate ways to get rich quick. They call them schemes for a reason. Changing one’s life for the better does not happen overnight.

A Better Process

forcing change
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

The way you affect change is by doing it rationally, with purpose, and with action.

I understand there are benefits to waking up earlier than normal. You can get more things done, you can work on creating your dreams before you have to go to your day job, you can exercise, the list goes on and on.

However, if your goal is to get up earlier so you can work on getting out of the job you hate, to exercise, or whatever it is, start slow.

If you now get up at 7 a.m., start getting up 15 minutes earlier for a week or two. Let your body adjust. Then get up 15 minutes earlier than you did the week before. Continue this until you are at the time you want to be.

I’m a runner. I started running seriously about two years ago. When I started, I would only run for a minute or two then take a break and walk for several minutes, and I continued this until I could run farther each time. Now, I have no problem running for several hours without stopping. But I didn’t go from the couch to running an ultramarathon.

It took practice, patience, and persistence. The 3 p’s.

forcing change
“A toddler standing at the bottom of a tall staircase” by Mikito Tateisi on Unsplash

The same applies to your life. You have to take small steps each day to meet your goals.

You have to practice the thing you want to achieve every day. Patience is required because goals are not fulfilled right away. And you have to persist over the long-term if you want to change your life.

But don’t force yourself to do things you know you won’t do-like waking up 3 hours earlier than you normally do. You are only setting yourself up for failure if you do this. So remember, your life is yours to live, not someone else’s. 

Forcing change because someone else is doing it is a good way to not change at all.

There is no one-size-fits-all way of doing anything (including what is written in this article). Find your way and be successful on your own terms. Because the only person who can change your life is YOU.

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