Why is it so hard to make changes now for a better future?


Let me count the ways… 

Have you tried to change one of your current habits today because you know it will make your life in the future better?  I know there are plenty of things I could/should be doing to have a better life in 20 years.  Let’s see, a few of those would be… 

  • Eat minimum 5 servings of fruit and vegetable daily.
  • Stop drinking any type of high sugar beverage. 
  • Exercise 5 out of seven days/week 

So why don’t I do these things? Why don’t any of us make these changes that are predicted to make our chances of being healthier and happier in the future?  

Blame it on our brains!

There are several reasons* we are all familiar with (see list for review below).  But I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts (Hidden Brain which is hosted by journalist Shankar Vedantam and he explores the unconscious patterns that make us do the things we do.)  Hidden Brain podcast Future Self this weekend and learned that behavioral scientists are trying to figure out why we don’t make these perfectly logical changes.  

One recent study looked at subjects’ brain waves while they were asked to think about themselves today and compared those results to their brain waves while thinking about someone else today.  Results:  two different parts of the brain are active.  When they asked the subjects to think about themselves and someone else in the future.  Result:  The brain waves were the same for the future self and the other person’s future self.  The conclusion was that our brains are set up to think about our future self in a totally different way.  No wonder we aren’t so invested in making changes.  We may as well be someone else.  So, we are “disconnected” from our future in a way.   Okay, that’s a big jump, but it’s interesting to think that our brains may be wired to pay less attention to 0ur future self.  

*Reasons Humans Don’t Make Changes: 

  1. Comfort Zones.  Even if we don’t like some pattern or routine we are in, we tend to resist changes that take us out of our familiar zone. 
  2. Fear of the Unknown.   When we don’t know where changes may take us, we tend to be anxious and even fearful about potential risks and outcomes.  It’s easier to avoid the change. Here we don’t know the risks or possible outcomes.  
  3. Delayed Gratification.  It’s difficult to give up something today or endure short-term pain to get a long-term benefit.  It’s tough to focus on long-term changes that don’t have immediate rewards, especially in today’s “what have you done for me lately” world. 
  4. Lack of Motivation and Clarity.  Without a clear vision of what we want to achieve or a strong desire to improve our future, it’s easy to procrastinate or be overwhelmed by changes we need to make. 
  5. Social and Environmental Factors.  The people we interact with and the places we live, and work influence our behavior.  If our environment and social networks don’t support or encourage change, it is that much harder for us to pull off lasting transformations.  Peer pressure and social norms can create barriers to personal growth and change. 
  6. Habits.  Our behaviors are often based on ingrained habits that we developed over a long time.  To break free from habits and set up new ones takes conscious effort and persistence.  Only time and consistency can break deeply rooted habits. 
  7. Self-doubt.  If we constantly criticize ourselves or doubt our ability, it is that much harder to take positive actions towards change for the future.  Negative self-talk can crush our confidence and belief in our ability to make changes. 

Either way, while making changes for a better future self may be difficult, it’s not impossible.  Recognizing and understanding these challenges can help us develop strategies to overcome them.  We need support from others, to set realistic goals, break the changes into smaller steps and remember to have compassion for ourselves to create a better future. 

The journey to a healthier happier company in the future begins with the owner and his senior leadership team identifying where things stand now, and which “habits” might be changed to improve the future.  We’d be happy to discuss how you might change your company for a better future, we’d be glad to have that discussion with you.  For a confidential complimentary conversation with you about these or any other exit/sales/buying issues.

You can reach me via email: [email protected] or on my cell phone a: 224-688-8838.

We’re here to help you Harvest Your Potential!

Alison Hoffman

has more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, mergers and acquisitions and delivering business-to-business client solutions. Her areas of expertise include managing operations for profitable growth, organizational design and strategy activation. She brings a wealth of experience through her work in evaluating, valuing and purchasing over 30 companies, leading company-wide cultural and business integration projects and consolidating best practices among business processes and corresponding computing systems. Read Full Bio