Overcoming the First Barrier to Change

Tell me there has been a time in your life when you desperately wanted change, but doing it wasn’t so easy.

It actually happens to me quite often.  As much as I love change, sometimes it’s hard for me to get it going.  I was recently reminded of my habit to resist change, as my gym membership ran out this week. It’s not just any gym membership. I’ve been going to this gym for 16 years, and it’s time. I’ve wanted to make this change for months, actually years, but it wasn’t until recently that I became committed to taking the leap.

This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to leave my gym. Several times over the 16 years I’ve become bored with the class schedule. I’m a class person, by the way, so treadmills and weights don’t do it for me. I’ve threatened to quit each time the classes have gotten stale, but I have always found some way to change up my routine, so I could make it fresh again. Until now. This time there are no more modifications I can make to give new life to my gym.

My gym has always offered guest passes to the gym at the university near my house. For years I have wanted to use this perk, but I never have. It required effort to change my routine, and it was easier to avoid the effort; so I continued to follow the path of least resistance.  Then several months ago, I decided to push myself along and asked for a guest pass. The idea of enjoying a wider variety of classes closer to home was exciting. But still, the guest pass sat in my purse for months, unused and ignored. Last week I finally decided to use it. After many months of wanting change, it wasn’t until the very end that I wholeheartedly chose, and committed, to do something about it.

Why did I procrastinate so much?

I don’t really have a good reason. It was more about resisting the effort required to take that first step. And it wasn’t even a lot of effort.  In fact, it was beyond easy. I just never took the time to figure out where on campus the gym was, where to park, or even how to use my guest pass. A few minor details and the unknown stood in my way, and it was easier to just keep sticking with my old routine.

So the other day, I decided to take one, single, small step to make it happen: I picked up the phone! I called the new gym to get the information I needed. I went over to establish my guest membership and get a parking pass. It was so easy.

So why did it take me so long to act?

I’m guessing, pure laziness.  However, I suspect there is more to it than laziness, because really, it was so easy to do that I can’t imagine being lazy over that!  Maybe it’s complacency.  I don’t know, but what I do know is that I tend to do this. Am I the only one here who avoids taking that first step because it requires some slight effort?  Whether it’s as small as finding a new hair cutter (yes, I always procrastinate making that first call,) or as significant as changing your career, that first step can be so simple, yet so daunting.  Why do we make changing harder than it has to be?

Although I find myself putting off a new change, there is one thing that works every time: facing it. I know, duh. But breaking the big task down into small, simple tasks makes any change doable. Making that first call, or sitting down and figuring out the details of the first step is often the only thing in our way from moving forward.

As hard as it is to start, I do know that once we do, we can gain enough momentum to actually get somewhere.

I guess we just need to reach that tipping point.

What is your tipping point, that point where you finally decide to push past your laziness or complacency and take that first simple, yet significant step? What is stopping you from taking that first step right now?

5 thoughts on “Overcoming the First Barrier to Change

  1. The key… find that small opening in the wall, the tiny crack in the door, the unexpected turn in the hallway. Be willing to accept and embrace and follow it. Once you have discovered your passion, take a breath and sit with it for awhile. Revel in the moment and all the possibilities, no matter how small, insignificant, or silly they seem. Then take it one step at a time, even if that first step is uncomfortable and scary, and outside your comfort zone. Ask yourself, “What is stopping me? What am I so afraid of?” The answer will most likely be, “Nothing”.

    And one step will become two, and then three, and eventually 1000. And along the way, you will falter and make mistakes. Expect them. Laugh at them. Learn from them. But most importantly, keep on going. There is no reason to be afraid. Chances are if you are afraid, the people around you are just as afraid, or even more so. So acknowledge the fear, but make it your friend — a trusted friend that may tease you, but will never cause you harm. You are stronger than that.

    And once you embark on your journey, dedicate yourself to breaking all the rules. And go full speed ahead.

    This was my tipping point.

    1. Eric, this is beautiful!! I love it. I might have to publish this on a post if you’ll give me the permission. I’m curious, what do you think that tiny crack or small opening was for you (if you’re comfortable sharing here, of course.) If not, make something up for me. JK, Haha!

  2. well composed blog with good point pondering questions. the resistance to change and pressing toward the change that must happen…one day… I laugh because i tend to procrastinate. but like you said once we get rolling we’re super committed…thanks for sharing

    1. Thank you! I think many of us are so talented at procrastinating. It’s just so much easier for now, but it doesn’t always make things easier later. Thanks for your thoughts.

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