Why We Resist Change and How to Conquer the Devil We Know

Why We Resist Change and How to Conquer the Devil We Know

Change. A seemingly easy task to accomplish.

Between days, weeks and months, we change many things in our lives, like our food cravings, clothes, or favorite pastime. These changes are simple – occurring without much contemplation. However, there is another, more difficult type of change that we all yearn for as human beings who strive towards betterment. It’s the type of change that we all desperately want, knowing that it would improve our lives & well-being - but are often too afraid to act upon. 

We’ve all been there; dreaming of a goal for ourselves but not following through (or not even taking the 1st action step for some), resulting in surprise, surprise! Status quo. So why does change seem so scary? Why do we resist change even though it is self-sabotaging?


Perhaps it is a lack of discipline or self-motivation to stick to new habits. For example, the gym is always so crowded in January. But when it reaches February, March, April - the number of people actually working out at the gym dwindles back to the same few people who have been consistently working out at that gym from before. Other bad habits that people struggle to break; nail-biting, binging on junk foods, frivolous spending, toxic relationships, etc. 

Perhaps it is the fear of being vulnerable. For someone who wants to find true love but chooses to stay at home instead of meeting new people, having to entertain the possibility of a broken heart, or being rejected is certainly off-putting.

Perhaps it is the fear of being judged? Wanting to make a career change that you feel for but isn't necessarily viewed as the norm, can hold many people back from pursuing their purpose!

Whether you feel any of the fears above or don't really understand why you resist change, don't fret. With the 5 E’s process and CHANGE characteristics, change will come your way in no time.



During those moments of self-reflection, sometimes we catch ourselves judging aspects of our own lives that we aren’t pleased about. This is an important evaluation phase, where we must decide what we want to keep, get rid of, change and add. It is through the evaluation of our circumstances that we can move onto our next step, which is…


Here, we must establish a SMART goal: 

Specific – goal must be well-defined and unambiguous, using specific qualitative or quantitative descriptions to set the target.

Measurable – goal must be measurable in some way so that we know how close we are from our target.

Action-oriented – goal must be doable, or else there is no point in setting a goal if we can’t achieve anything.

Realistic – goal must consider other factors that will affect the achievement of the goal. It is important to think about the likely case scenario, rather than the best-case scenario, when we plan for doing things.

Time-bound – goal must have an end time so we have a date to achieve our target by.


Once we set a goal to work towards, we often start off very determined. We work hard to make sure we can reach our target ASAP. But as we’ve all experienced, change doesn’t come easily, and it’s partly due to our excuses. Here are some examples of top excuses, just to name a few: discomfort, unfamiliarity, ego, self-pity, laziness, lack of time… which is why the next step is so crucial in our journey to self-betterment.


This is the most challenging phase. Bombarding ourselves with excuses and procrastinating will only hinder our growth, and the only way to combat these excuses is with endurance & discipline. It is essential that we build this mental strength
& mindset slowly - constantly reminding ourselves why we chose to embark on this difficult journey in the first place, and how we will feel once we accomplish our goal! One of the most life-changing advice I’ve received, is to think about how you would wish you had kept going today, next year. Once we can fight past our excuses, we are already halfway to our goal.


After pushing through the hardest phase (which may be just to start taking action), we will realize that this self-betterment process is very much like a competition, except the biggest competitor is yourself. We will also be more familiar our triggers, and how to encourage & motivate ourselves to keep going - hopefully, we will be the closest to our goal we have ever been!

"Everything begins with the resolve to take the first step. From that action, wisdom arises and change begins. Without action, nothing changes." - Daisaku Ikeda


Last but not least, with the 5 E’s in mind to help us through the process of change, we must maintain the following characteristics to guide us towards our ultimate goal:

  • Commitment
  • Hope
  • Ardour
  • Nerve
  • Grit
  • Excitement

Without these characteristics and mindset, it will be harder to look forward to achieving the goal. It takes a lot of courage and excitement to follow through with our journey to change; but with optimism, determination and aligning change to your genuine desires, it will be much easier to commit and give it our 100%!

Change is scary, but necessary. With time and practice, we can slowly build up the 'CHANGE' characteristics and applaud ourselves when we notice ourselves demonstrating them. After all, a little encouragement can go a long way on a challenging but fun journey of personal growth & development.

Are you super unhappy in your current job role or relationship, but fear what society or other peers will think if you change and abandon status quo? "What are you going to do then?" Let's talk about this together. Drop us a note at: [email protected].

Other reads: What do I want? by a 20-year-old millennial.