What's so H.A.R.D. about Change?

posted 18 Feb 2013, 12:52 by Mpelembe   [ updated 18 Feb 2013, 12:52 ]

Why does change have to be so darn hard? We struggle to lose weight, get in
shape, eliminate debt and stay (happily) married. Health issues such as
heart disease, depression, addiction and obesity - preventable illnesses -
are rampant. Why is it so hard to change?

The answer to this question describing eight strategies for success can be

found in my new book, Does Change have to be so H.A.R.D.?, now available in

Change IS hard. And it's hard because, as humans, our brains are wired a
certain way. When we understand how the mind works, we can use this
knowledge to make change a little easier and stop battling with ourselves.
We can use our minds to work WITH us instead of AGAINST us. We can learn to
become the master of our thoughts and emotions instead of being at their

H.A.R.D.C  is an acronym that stands for how we are enslaved by our Habits
and Attachments and struggle with Resistance and Discouragement. In order to
change, we must face these functions of the mind. It's not that our brains
are purposely trying to hurt us and hold us back; it's just how the mind
operates. They are games the mind plays with us. Accept it. Learn about them
and then use the success strategies to help you to play these mind games and


We are wired to keep things the same, to create routines and structure to
get things done. Habits allow us to function well and to manage multiple
things throughout the course of the day.  Every time you try something new,
you have to concentrate - all of your attention is required to learn the new
activity, be it a new route to work or learning to type. After much
practice, you can perform the task without thinking about it. It has become

In the process, thousands of neurological connections have formed in your
brain in order to make this activity 'automatic'. You now know how to type
without paying attention, for example, and perform the task subconsciously.
Iin other words, you don't need to focus on where to put your fingers and
which key represents what letter. You just type.

Those neurological connections will need to be replaced in order to change
to something new. It requires consistent attention and persistent action,
something most people do not do well. When we are learning something for the
first time, those neurological connections don't exist; but when you want to
change how you have been doing something, that's when it becomes a challenge
because you are 'hard-wired' to think and act a certain way.


We cling to people, places and things. Most people have a difficult time
letting go and going with the flow of life. We want and expect things (and
people) to last forever. We hold on tight to our youth as our bodies age,
our ideas even when we are wrong, and our relationships even when we are
very unhappy. To detach would require we accept things as they are, not as
we wish they were. We hurt ourselves greatly when we hold onto our ideas
about how things 'should' be as opposed to how they are.

Emotions are the key to identifying attachments. The harder you fight, the
more stubborn you are, the more attached you are.


Resistance shows up in many ways including self-doubt, judgment,
procrastination and excuses. Resistance is FEAR. Identifying your fear is
the first step. Notice the behavior pattern such as making excuses or
procrastinating, then name the fear so you can tame it. This is just another
way the mind plays with you and keeps you stuck. As you begin to change or
even think of changing something, you are threatening the status quo.
Adrenaline is released just as if you were in real danger causing the
'fight, flight or freeze' reaction. And you respond with resistance.

But you are bigger than your fear. You just have to learn some tools to
stand your ground.


We get discouraged when things don't progress as quickly as we'd like them
too. We may have unrealistic expectations for just how long something will
take. We may think it will take a few weeks to find a new job when it can
take many months. Our relationship with time causes us to become frustrated.
We are impatient. And if we are not very good at acknowledging what success
we do experience along the way, we will quit even though we may have come
quite far.

Change is H.A.R.D. C because we succumb to what we know and give up. It just
seems easier than to fight for what we want. Motivation is crucial for
success and for continued progress toward our goals.

To be successful at making a change in your life, befriend your mind.
Understand a little bit about how it works so that you can learn how to use
it to assist you in creating the kind of life you love and enjoying the
progress. Your mind is a tool for you to master and use to your advantage.

Julie Donley, MBA, BSN, RN   For resources and to

Fabulous De-Stressing Tips

posted 18 Feb 2013, 12:42 by Mpelembe   [ updated 18 Feb 2013, 12:42 ]

Stress can keep you from living the life you were meant to live because when stress consumes you, it becomes your focus.  And, the more you focus on stress, the worse it gets.

Quick Facts About Stress

* Americans spend $11.3 billion per year to cope with stress.
* Over 90% of disease is caused or complicated by stress.
* Job stress is estimated to cost U.S. industry $300 billion annually.
* Percentage of adults being treated for depression:  54%.
* Stress has been linked to all leading causes of death, including heart disease and cancer.
* Long-term stress is strongly associated with depression, heart disease, and weakened immune system.
* Up to 60% of employee absences are due to psychological problems such as stress and depression.
* Estimated percentage of American adults attempting to control stress:  95%.

Two Secrets to Overcoming Stress
The first secret is that the more you focus on what you can’t control, the worse it gets.  Think of yourself dealing with a ticket agent at the airport.  Your flight has been delayed.  You are so upset you yell and shout at the man at the counter.
You know this is not helping, and, it’s actually making matters worse.  Not only are you stressing yourself out, but also, that employee you’re yelling at is in a position to help you.

The second secret to overcoming stress is that the more your focus on what you can control, the less the things that do bother you actually do bother you.  Does that make sense?  Here’s an example.  I work out on a treadmill and totally zone out so the time goes by faster.  Once in a while, I have someone on the treadmill next to me who flips through his or her magazine like a maniac.  It drives me nuts and I find it distracting.  I make myself focus on something—anything other than my neighbor.  This tip on how to control your thoughts can help lower your stress because it is easy to do, it’s immediate, and it can work in so many situations.

Two Control Groups

When it comes to handling stress, people can fit into one of two groups:
The first group of people is constantly trying to control things they cannot control.  In dealing with life and their relationships, they feel like a victim, hopeless, and helpless.

The second group of people is aware of what they can and cannot control.  They experience an event, think about what it is that want to do about it, and do what needs to be done to handle the situation.

Three Key Areas for Stress
There are three key areas in your life that can create stress:  home, work, and money.  When one area gets out of balance, it can infect all areas because stress is contagious.  When two or more areas are affected at the same time, it can be disastrous.  For instance, you lose your job and get behind on paying your bills.

Action Steps

* Draw a large circle with a small circle in the middle.  Break the circle up into three sections:  home, work, and money.  Now, imagine getting stressed and all that stress flowing to the middle circle.  Pretty soon, that middle circle will fill up with your stress and start flowing back out to the three areas of your life.

* Realize what is happening - that your stress in one area of your life is spilling over into and affecting the other two areas.   Stop this from happening.  Get rid of the circle.  Look at the three areas of your life like the front window of your car.  (Sorry, I couldn’t think of a better example.) Draw the rectangle shape and break the shape into your three sections:  home, work, and money.

* Begin identifying what’s stressing you out, isolate it by putting it into one of your three sections, and then decide if it’s something you can or cannot control.  If you can control it, try.  If you can’t control it, accept what is happening and change your focus to something you can control.

© 2011 Life Is Fabulous. Publication rights granted so long as article and byline are reprinted intact, with all links made live.

Sandra Smith makes successful living simple.  She is an award-winning motivational speaker, author, and Life Is Fabulous blogger.   Learn more about her speaking programs at   To order her book, Get What You REALLY Want Without the Guilt, subscribe to her fabulous newsletter or read her blog visit

The Secret to Sustaining Change and Preventing Relapse

posted 18 Feb 2013, 12:38 by Mpelembe   [ updated 18 Feb 2013, 12:38 ]

"I don't understand; I use [a diet system] to lose weight and am generally
very successful, however, as soon as I come off the diet and starting eating
regularly, I gain the weight right back. This has happened three times now.
What am I doing wrong?"

This is the sad the story of relapse. You keep doing the same things over

and over again expecting different results. Certain actions will bring about
certain results and no matter how hard you 'wish' things would turn out
different, you produce the same outcome yet again: you are back to your old
habits - smoking, eating, gambling, drinking, screaming.

Relapse is not a mystery. In order to make a change and sustain that change
there are certain things you must do - these are mandatory if you want to
sustain the change. If you are not willing to do them, then you will most
likely return to your old ways and produce the same results as before.

The missing ingredient to sustainable change is to become someone new. You
cannot take the old habits and put them in a new environment and expect
things to be different. For instance, you cannot move to a new city, new
house, change jobs, change relationships or change addictions and expect
things to be different. YOU have to change. YOU go with you everywhere you
go. Your self-image and how you think of yourself needs to change. You have
to develop new characteristics, practice new behaviors and become someone
new in the process of your change or else, eventually, you will bring about
the same old results in a new landscape.

A dieter choosing any weight loss method who does not change their
self-image or how they view themselves, their value structure, their
lifestyle and their priorities, will revert back to the way things were
before. Diets are not forever. Diets are short term fixes to jumpstart a
long term solution.

Think of a car; let's say you are the kind of driver who likes to slam on
their brakes. You drive very fast and then slam to come to a stop. After a
short while, your brakes need replacing. You ride them hard and they wear
quite rapidly. This can be expensive. You don't want to keep spending money
to replace brake pads and rotors. Or perhaps you have a newborn baby or had
an accident and this prompts you to examine your driving practices. Whatever
the reason, you decide that something needs to change.

That 'something' that needs to change is YOU.

You actually need to train yourself to become a different kind of driver,
one who drives cautiously and slower, who approaches stops with more care
and uses lighter pressure on the brake pedal. This will require new
behaviors and consistent attention to those new behaviors over a period of
time. You will need to practice so you can become a different kind of

So you begin to examine your behaviors and choose new ones that eventually
develop into new habits - no more slamming on your brakes. You need to slow
down, take your time and enjoy driving at a different pace. Maybe, you have
to give yourself more time to get places.

You don't like change but it's good for you so you slow down and things are
good for awhile, but unless something else shifts internally for you, you
might forget and start driving fast again. Habits are not easily changed.

In the process of practicing these new behaviors, however, you may start to
see yourself differently. You change how you define yourself as a driver and
the role driving plays in your life. There are certain characteristics of a
good driver and you are beginning not only to define them, but to adopt
them. You begin to view yourself as a 'good driver' possessing and
practicing these qualities.

You notice other benefits as well. You feel less stressed. Perhaps your
blood pressure goes down. You begin to appreciate driving and owning a car,
the freedom it affords you. You are grateful for the privilege. After all,
it is a very different lifestyle to travel by bus, train, bike, foot or taxi
everywhere you go.

Gratitude and appreciation for your new way of life is one essential element
for sustainability.

Gratitude then fuels your value system. You will always do what you perceive
is of greatest value. In the past, driving fast and perhaps not as carefully
was more important for whatever reason. You may not have consciously chosen
this value; you just learned to drive fast and it became habit. Over time,
it produced unfavorable results such as accidents, premature wear and tear
on your vehicle and even tickets.

Now, after consideration, you realize there are other things that you value
more. Whereas before, you valued driving fast and rushing to get places, now
you value your hard-earned money, your child or your license and insurance
which will be gone if you keep getting tickets and having accidents. Driving
slowly and more cautiously becomes more important than anything else. This
then motivates you to behave a certain way. Your values power your behavior.
This is the impetus you need to make substantial changes in how you drive. A
change in values produces sustainable results as values are less likely to
change without careful thought and consideration.

Change requires a stimulus or a 'kick in the pants'. We need to be motivated
to do the work in order to change. Change is hard work, after all.

An upcoming event such as a wedding, prom or vacation may motivate you to
lose weight but it won't be enough to sustain that weight loss unless you
see the value in staying thin and embarking upon a new life. You have to be
willing to embrace new habits and become a new person in the process with
different values and priorities. You must be different. If you cannot accept
that, then the change will be short-lived, you will regain the weight or
resume the old addiction - you will relapse - and things will return to the
way they were.

This is why dieting is often referred to as a 'lifestyle change' because you
really do need to change how you live and how you approach and think about
food and fitness in order to sustain a thinner body.

So the secret to sustainability is to 'Become a New You'. How you get there
is through:

1)       Developing the characteristics you need in order to succeed.

2)      Being grateful.

3)      Choosing your values and what is important to you. This will
motivate you to succeed.

Julie Donley, MBA, BSN, RN knows firsthand what it means to conquer
adversity. Having overcome addiction, a grave illness, divorce, single
parenthood, obesity, indebtedness and being laid-off three times, Julie
brings a wealth of experience to her work. Tired of life being SO hard, she
went in search of an easier way. What she found was quite intriguing: "Hard
or easy, it's how you think about it!" Julie has worked in psychiatric
nursing since 1993 and founded her company, Nurturing Your Success, to
empower you to achieve your goals and work through change by educating,
inspiring and motivating you to succeed. She is the author of several books

Up in the Air

posted 18 Feb 2013, 12:28 by Mpelembe   [ updated 18 Feb 2013, 12:29 ]

You never know whom you will meet when you are flying. You can
learn a lot from a stranger, if you are open to having a
conversation and enjoy the art of listening. Case in point, on a
recent flight, I found myself sitting next to a man who was
returning from Florida to Michigan. He was an entrepreneur, a
successful entrepreneur, a few times over. He was able to retire
early and was so effective at starting businesses; he was
continuing to help others create small businesses, and enjoying

When I asked him what he credited for his success. He said that
growing up on a farm gave him a hard work ethic. That used to be
a common theme in rural America. I wonder what will replace
"farm living" for the future generations as we see more
movement away from agriculture. And, he felt his college degree
from Michigan was also an asset. I agree, a college degree is
always a good life investment no matter how you use it. Now
pushing 70, it's hard for him to slow down. He loves putting the
pieces together. He is still passionate about business
development and has a lot of experience, knowledge and business
savviness to share.

I transferred planes in Detroit to finish the last leg of my trip
back home. A solider sat down next to me in seat 7-B. The man in
camouflage was returning home after serving a year in the Army
Reserves in Afghanistan. As a dad in his mid 30's, he was hoping
he would make it home in time to see his son play JV basketball
that evening.

Afghanistan…a world away. He said it was overwhelming to be
dropped there, with very little language skill. He had a job to
do and despite the steep learning curve, he did the best job he
could do. He was looking forward to sharing his experience with
high school students who know so little about Afghanistan, just
like me. He would also pick up where he left off on his job
search over a year ago. A year in the active Reserves provided
income after he lost his other job. He certainly has some
additional information to add to his resume.

Two different seat mates, two different stories about making a
living from men who were in different stages of life and with
different skill sets. We landed. Four friends greeted the solider
at the gate. I saw the embraces and a few tears. I had a tear as
well. Thanks you for a job well done, solider. Thank you for
taking a year from your life and your family to serve.

I picked up my luggage. As I drove home, I thought, what a ride.
I felt transformed and humbled by the strangers I met while up in
the air. What did this career coach learn during her flight home?

I learn a lot about the world of work by talking to people.
Hearing from people first hand is the real deal. It's one thing
to read about the workplace, it's another thing to hear about it
from people who are working. Be genuine, be curious, and share in
the dialog. For readers looking for work or considering a career
change, it is about talking to people. Do your research on the
Internet and read articles and publications. Then, contact
someone to talk to them in person or by phone. Do a short
informational meeting to learn more the industry, their position
or a related position, or learn more about what attracted them to
the field. Have a list of prepared questions, but be prepared to
listen and respond. Be flexible with the questions, read the
situation and be ready to have a few questions come back at you.
There is a need for ying and yang in any discussion, so look for
the balance in your exchange.

When opportunity knocks, take a chance to engage a stranger
whether you are up in the air or have both feet on the ground!

Barbara Wulf MS, ACC, CPCC, is a Certified Career/Life Coach
and writer helping people redesign their career paths by
supporting and inspiring them to stretch, seek, and achieve
work/life success.

Overcoming a Failing Business

posted 18 Feb 2013, 12:24 by Mpelembe   [ updated 18 Feb 2013, 12:24 ]

In overcoming a failing business, the first question to answer is, "Did God call you to this business?"  And if He did, the second question is, "Did God change His mind?"

If you find that you are, still, right where God wants you (despite the view), consider a change of scenery.

When a business puts pride and arrogance aside to begin seeking God for their every next step, as the only one who knows every twist and turn of the upcoming economy ...

When they tear down barriers that tear down people, to begin again; understanding that, no matter one's business, when people treat each other like Jesus says to treat them (counting him as the greatest expert in the field) ...

When management remembers the plight of their own humble beginning and struggles to get where they are, then does away with the mindset of being better than anyone else ...

When they then consider their business 'a ministry first' and begin applying tools of unconditional love and acceptance, and follow honest godly principles in all their dealings; not displaying a pretense of self righteousness but true integrity that begins with their own accountability; separating only from people who can not yet do away with the practice of tearing people down ...

When their outreach heads in the direction of reaching as many educational levels and learning styles as possible ...

When the aim is to actually help others become successful in that business endeavor (no matter their ability or the abilities they attain to), realizing that every part matters, every person's seed will multiply ... it will be impossible for a business to fail.

The true seeker seeks the needed Master's Tools, then learns how to effectively apply them (example: ) and thereby realizes success in all related endeavors.

"In God We Trust" is a slogan of proven merit wherein God is bigger than any failing economy.  And more specifically, in any area of attracting people to your called purpose, the best place to start is with a plan that never fails.  But just so you know, it isn't about being a do-gooder (works).  Just pay attention to meet true needs, and God will do the rest.

Charity edifieth. Charity never faileth.
Let all your things be done with charity.

1 Corinthians 8:1, 13:8, 16:14

© 2011 by Joyce C. Lock

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