You know it's impossible to drive with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake. But that's what it feels like when you try to change behaviors. You come up against your inability to make change -- let alone sustain -- the change. This can happen despite our good intentions.
It's not about being lazy or lacking will power. It’s because we have deep-seated -- often protective -- dynamics at work. These are called “competing commitments” by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey, the creators of the Immunity to Change™ process*. Kegan and Lahey use the metaphor of the immune system to explain what makes it's so hard to change behaviors that keep us from reaching our goals. When our bodies detect a threat -- a virus, bacterial or other intruder -- our immune system kicks in to ward off the threat. This self-protective physiological response is automatic and we're often unaware of it. A similar self-protective, often unconscious, psychological process takes place when confronted by change.
- Outline your personal development goals
- Uncover the hidden "Competing Commitments" that are holding you back
- Hone in on the buried anxieties and "Big Assumptions" that underlie them
- Formulate specific actions to test and debunk your Big Assumptions
- Identify concrete steps you can take to reach your goal
From Oprah Magazine:
Not being able to change doesn't mean we're lazy, stubborn, or weak. A pair of Harvard educators argue that our best-laid plans often fall through for smart, self-protective (and ingeniously hidden) reasons.
From Harvard Business Review:
Resistance to change does not reflect opposition, nor is it merely a result of inertia. Instead, even as they hold a sincere commitment to change, many people are unwittingly applying productive energy toward a hidden competing commitment. The resulting dynamic equilibrium stalls the effort in what looks like resistance but is in fact a kind of personal immunity to change.