Deciding to make a change isn’t always easy. It takes a lot of insight and inner reflection to identify the change you want to make, and even more insight and inner reflection to figure out how to make it. The “how” might require research, seeking support from others, or even seeking professional help or support. Going through all of that can be hard work. Just recognizing the need for change and choosing to make the changes is courageous.

But in some ways, deciding to change, although it’s not easy in general, is the easiest part of the process. The toughest part for many people is actually following through.

New Year’s resolutions are a perfect case in point. Someone sees a need for change, for example the common “I need to lose ten pounds and eat healthier foods.” They say they’re going to do the thing. They tell other people they’re going to do the thing. They list the healthier foods they plan to eat, and maybe set an exercise goal. They might plan a reward for themself when they meet the goal, like buying that shirt they’ve been coveting. They set their intention: “I intend to be at a healthy weight and to do things to maintain it.”

But then the time comes to implement the plan. To start working on that intention. For some people, that’s when it falls apart. They have the list of healthier foods, but they still have holiday leftovers they want to finish off before they start the healthy eating thing. They have an exercise plan but it involves going to a gym, and they can’t seem to find time to do that. Even for people who do manage to start on the goal, plans might start to fall by the wayside after a week or two. They get frustrated and discouraged, and give up.

Deciding you’re going to change takes guts. But making lists and plans, and telling people what you’re going to do, isn’t enough. Setting intentions and putting the right energy out into the Universe isn’t enough. You have to take the actions too. If you want to lose weight, you have to actually eat the healthy foods and do the exercises. If you want to get a better handle on your temper, you have to actually realize you’re getting angry and walk away from the situation. And so on.

Too many people seem to think that all they have to do is set an intention and maybe say an affirmation or two, and what they want will come to pass. They might genuinely be unaware of the actions they need to take–and there are some coaches and other practitioners who will actually say that all you have to do is intend it and it will come to pass, so some people operate under the belief that that’s true. (Personally, I consider it extremely unethical and possibly harmful to tell anyone that intending it and thinking it is sufficient to actually change and grow, but that’s another post for another time.) Other people know they have to act in order to change, but they find reasons not to take those actions.

Every step of the process of change takes insight, determination, and courage. The step of following through on making the change also takes commitment. When you see a change you need to make, don’t only talk about it. Commit. Find the support you need in order to take those actions, and take them. And believe in your power to create the life you want.

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