In January, we traditionally think about making changes in the coming year. But how many of those changes ever make it into February?
I was chatting with a friend the other day, and he was talking about someone we’ve both known for years who’s built up a very successful business. This man reads a lot of self-help books, and as my friend remarked, they’re obviously working. Then he said, “There seem to be two kinds of people who read self-help books. People who get it – whatever ‘it’ is – and make great progress to change their lives, and people who just read the books as a way to avoid actually making changes.”
“Yes,” I said. “There are two kinds of people who go into therapy, too. They’re the same two kinds.”
In fact, in any human activity where there’s potential for change – relationships, spiritual practice, coaching, even reality TV shows – you’ll see the same two kinds of people. There are people who use whatever it is in order to change, and there are people who use it in order to avoid changing.
That got me thinking about the many ways we have to avoid change. Avoiding change is helpful in some circumstances, because change brings a threat with it, the threat of the unknown. Avoiding change can be a useful skill, and that’s why we’re so good at it. But here I am blogging about how to change your life – and I thought I’d do a series on how not to change your life, as a kind of paradoxical advice in the tradition of Milton Erickson.
Here, in no particular order, are 25 ways I can think of to avoid changing your life:
- Talk in jargon.
- Don’t take responsibility.
- Think “All or Nothing”.
- Always be right.
- Look for silver bullets.
- Make empty promises.
- Pretend everything is fine.
- Resist change actively.
- Keep determinedly doing what hasn’t worked.
- Let your fear win.
- Look for reasons why not.
- Stay isolated and refuse help.
- Be bitter.
- Take yourself seriously.
- Learn without doing.
- Let the urgent override the important.
- Idealise the past.
- Shun discomfort.
- Cave in to pressure.
- Be terrified of failure.
- Shun success.
- Expect change to happen by itself.
- Stay ignorant.
- Become an expert.
- Try for too much too soon.
As you can see from the linkage, I’ve now written a post for each of the 25. I’m now working on a book based on the series, which will also contain extra material that hasn’t appeared on the blog. Sign up below to be kept informed!
And if you like the list, share it around on Twitter, Facebook and email. The more the merrier.
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