Failing at a change? Have you tried this?


When I sent my July newsletter out, I invited people to send me any thoughts or challenges they were having working to change their identity and/or their habits. While I got several responses, I got some questions from one of my readers. And I thought perhaps both his question, and my response would resonate with some of you.

He wrote me that he really identified with what I said about needing to embrace new identities. Yet he still feels nervous about changing some of his bad habits. And it feels really hard to talk about this with others; internally he just feels really disjointed about having to figure out how to change himself and how to adjust. He was looking for any thoughts I had.

Here’s what I sent him in response:

Dear Daniel*,

I understand how hard it can be when there are things you want to change and it’s hard to talk about it. And perhaps that’s why it’s making you feel disjointed and out of alignment with yourself.

Here are three things I recommend:

1) Take up a practice of journaling. Whether is 5-15 minutes a day or just writing for a certain number of pages, having that regular outlet when you process your feelings and concerns might lead you to understand some of the ways you don’t feel wholly consistent with yourself or in your life. I use and highly recommend the Five Minute Journal if journaling is new to you or feels too time consuming.

2) Try doing a daily head-heart-body check in. That’s where 1-3x a day you stop and ask yourself first “What am I thinking about?” (Head) then “What am I feeling?” (Heart) and lastly “What sensations am I noticing in my body?” (Body). I’ve found people often don’t realize how tired they are or that if these three areas are in conflict (i.e., your head is telling you to work harder and your body and heart are saying you’re tired and drained) – it’s hard to feel aligned.

3) Lastly – is there a friend, mentor or outside support person you can talk with more regularly? Whether it’s a friend who just gives us the gift of listening or you need to pay someone, a coach or therapist, it can be very helpful to have someone walking alongside you for your hard journeys. Especially when you feel nervous and mixed up inside.

I hope at least one of these suggestions feels helpful to you.

Let me know how it goes!


* not his real name

I’m curious to know from you, my readers, what is the best way that you have found to change habits that you really want to change? Or alternatively what have you found works to motivate yourself to change, even when it’s very hard? And do you ever notice that you might have conflicting goals between the different parts of yourself that want different things? How do you know which path to pursue?

I would love to share your responses out in the next newsletter so please do comment below with any thoughts or advice you have on that.

And I hope your summer came to a lovely close and that you’re ready to welcome in fall again.

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Jo Ilfeld, PhD

An executive leadership coach, Jo helps C-suite leaders, executives, and high-potential managers develop the flexibility, skill, and frame of mind to meet the challenges of the next five, ten, twenty years…. and beyond. She works with individuals, teams and organizations on four core areas of leadership development. Check out Jo's bio page for more information.

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