Despite your intent to change, you don’t follow through. You must be lazy, undisciplined.

If you really wanted to change this, you’d behave differently. You’re a rational person, but your behaviour seems irrational. So you must either not really want to change, or there must be something wrong with you.

What looks like resistance to change might be something else.

Competing commitments

You aren’t resisting change, you are experiencing dynamic equilibrium, like trying to drive while simultaneously pumping the accelerator and breaks.

Your energy is divided between your stated goal, and a hidden competing commitment. It’s like wanting to quit smoking, while staying committed to maintaining a habit that allows you to relieve stress and step away from social settings.

When you stop believing your lack of progress is because of some innate flaw, and instead become curious about what other commitments are working against you, you can gently find ways forward.

Time to get unstuck

The Immunity to Change framework from Robert Kegan & Lisa Lahey helps you do just that. It’s a powerful approach that can surface some deep, core beliefs that have been with you a long time, so go slowly and gently.

Step #1: Clarify your goal. What is the change you have committed to?

Step #2: Identify behaviours that go against your goal. What are you doing, or not doing, that is working against this goal?

Step #3: Uncover competing commitments. By engaging in this counter-productive behaviour, what worrisome outcome are you committed to preventing? “I am committed to________”

Step #4: Name your big assumptions. Invert your competing commitment. “I assume that if I _______, then _______.”

Your big assumption might feel scary, or embarrassing, or ridiculous, and that’s ok. With your big assumption in hand, your recent behaviour makes sense.

Redirect the energy you spend beating yourself up to look for small, safe, gentle ways to test if those big assumptions are true.