Do You Believe You Can Change?

Written by on January 19, 2015 in Confidence

Do You Believe You Can Change?My article on Living a Life of Excuses prompted a great conversation on social media about beliefs toward change – specifically whether or not we can intentionally change our lives for the better. So today we’re going to pursue that topic a little further by exploring the role our belief system plays in our willingness and ability to create meaningful change.

For example, what if you believe that your past defines who you are as a person; that people are born a certain way and can’t change? What if you believe you are either born confident (optimistic, courageous, flexible, etc.) or not? What if you believe that only those who are lucky can lead successful lives or that you have no choice but to accept your circumstances and shouldn’t even hope for more?

Do you see the limitations these beliefs would impose on the quality of your life? And yet, many people live their lives based on these beliefs either by intention or default.

In fact, your belief system is so integral to your ability to grow and change for the better that you could create the most inspiring vision to improve your life, back it up with a solid plan to accomplish your goal, but if you don’t really believe in your ability to change, you’ve sabotaged yourself before you even start.

Our beliefs are like unquestioned commands, telling us how things are, what’s possible and impossible and what we can and cannot do. They shape every action, every thought and every feeling that we experience. As a result, changing our belief system is central to making any real and lasting change in our lives. ~Anthony Robbins

Managing Your Beliefs Toward Change

While it can be challenging to pinpoint some of our internal beliefs, it’s relatively easy to determine if your belief system leans toward a “fixed” or “growth” mindset if you will invest some time thinking about past experiences with change – unexpected as well as intentional.

  • How have you managed unexpected change in the past?
  • Were you able to easily adapt or did you get stalled by feelings of negativity and helplessness before you could begin moving forward again?
  • How open are you to trying new experiences? When was the last time you tried something for the first time?
  • How hard is it for you to break an unwanted habit – or establish a new one?
  • Do you regularly set goals? How often do you follow your goals through to successful completion?
  • How do you define failure?

The most important thing to embrace at this point is that how you view change is your choice. You can interpret it with a fixed mindset assuming you have no power or authority, your only option being to accept whatever comes your way. Or you can choose to interpret it with a growth mindset and face change as an opportunity to learn and stretch yourself. It’s entirely up to you, but it’s not hard to determine which viewpoint is going to set you up for the best chance of success with any efforts you may undertake to change your life for the better.

Sometimes, people use age as a convenient excuse. ‘I’m too old to start something new’ or, ‘I couldn’t learn that at my age.’ Other people, though, go on to achieve their greatest accomplishments in life in later years. ~Catherine Pulsifer

Before we take a look at other factors that contribute to creating successful life changes, I want to address a common stumbling block for many people: age. It’s not uncommon to hear someone fall back on their age as an excuse for not attempting to improve the conditions of their life, so let’s take a look at a study that helps to overrule that excuse.

Ravenna Helson, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley directed The Mills Study which followed some 120 women over the age of 50, examining various traits, social influence, and personal development.  The study showed substantial positive personality change from ages 60 to 70 among participants who resolved to change their lives for the better, proving in the process that it really is never too late to reinvent yourself.

Other Factors That Contribute to Positive Life Change

In addition to a growth oriented mindset, changing your life requires intentional actions and commitment, and it’s almost always harder than we anticipate because our instincts and the urgent matters of everyday living work against us.

While there is no shortage of social science theories and mountains of research available on the subject of how to successfully create behavioral changes, through it all there is fairly consistent agreement about the basic conditions that must be present for an individual to successfully achieve change.

  • You must believe that you are capable of creating the desired change.
  • You must have a strong positive intention (commitment) to change.
  • You must have a strong belief that the advantages of creating the change outweigh the disadvantages.
  • Your desire to change must be consistent with your self-image, values, and highest life priorities.
  • There are no environmental constraints that would make it impossible for change to occur.

Ultimately it really is up to each of us to decide whether to define change as being too hard and settle for letting nature take its course or choose to purposefully direct change and open our mind to all the possibilities in life.

Are you sure you want it?

So it would seem that Henry Ford had it right when he said: “Whether you think you can, or that you can’t, you are right.” That said, I’m going to add one additional factor to the list of requirements for creating life changes… make sure you really want it.

Change for the sake of change, without a clear purpose or direction, rarely leads to anyplace worth going.  If you’re serious about reimagining your life for the better make an earnest commitment to get clear about who you are and what matters most to you, and muster the courage to be brutally honest with yourself about just how much effort you are really willing to invest in order to make the life you desire a reality.

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.


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  1. Chery Schmidt

    Hello Marty! Oh Yeh now this one really hits home with me my friend! I have always been a very positive person and when I went a few years here online with out making any money only spending it I knew it was time for change.

    So I took a step back and YES started working on me. It was the best 3 months I ever spent. So Yes I now only believe we can change I am living proof.

    And I also have YOU My Friend to thank for this as well. Your wonderful words on your blogs have been so helpful to me.

    Thanks once again for this Awesome post.. Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…Little Known Facts About Network Marketing Profession!My Profile

  2. Hi Marquita ,I like your articles 🙂
    I believe in Change is the only constant in life and like changes.
    I had many times to change my life and I am looking back and I am grateful.
    I think age should not hold back from change ,but I know many people are caught in the believe ,being to old for change and if there are events and they need to change things it is very difficult for them.
    This are the paradigms holding them back .In our time it has not to be like this ,because there is a lot of information out there ,to learn to change this .You give great advice here, may many read and think about it .
    Thank you
    Erika Mohssen-Beyk recently posted…Forgiveness – The Key To Happiness ?My Profile

  3. I wish I could see change as an adventure, the way a friend of mine does, but it doesn’t come naturally, and I’m not there just yet. Change is inevitable. The sooner I accept and embrace it, the better and more profitable my life will be!
    Willena Flewelling recently posted…Week 17 – Ease and Perfection are Gained by RepetitionMy Profile

  4. Arleen

    Change when you are older is hard, but I have learned to embrace it. I wake up each day and look at it as an opportunity. I started an online promotional products business when I was 50 and had no idea what I was doing. I had sold real estate for years so the thought of my own business was scary. But I did it and have a successful business today. I do not use the excuse of age. We are all lucky to have what time we do have on earth so I am making the best of it.

  5. Mark

    My my my, but you’ve nailed it yet again Marquita!

    I love the way you totally dismantled the “age” thing!LOL! That one simply gets far more mileage than it deserves!

    And also where you point out that you’ve gotta believe that you’re capable of achieving change!

    Boy, that’s cutting to the chase! And also pointing out that the way we view potential change is ultimately our choice!

    Now that’s quite an empowering thought! And one that I hope will resonate with any and everybody that’s been temporarily confused about how to view change!

    Thanks as always M, for providing such clarity and empowerment!
    Mark recently posted…So Who Else Keeps Making These Seven Costly Copywriting Mistakes?My Profile

  6. Life is about change. If we are not changing with it we are left behind. It can be scary to be complete lost while the world is revolving around. Go with flow and be able to make the changes as needed to live a better life and be positive about the outcome. Fear is the enemy.
    “The most important thing to embrace at this point is that how you view change is your choice. You can interpret it with a fixed mindset assuming you have no power or authority, your only option being to accept whatever comes your way.” Thank you
    Christine Adindu recently posted…These Facebook Marketing Tips Can Really Make Your Business Take Off!My Profile

  7. Jeri

    Change can be so scary, and it’s so cliche how it comes along with we least expect it. That Gail Godwin quote is so true. I hate it when I stagnate, and will consciously change things up to keep life interesting. Change for change’s sake can be a good thing if you know you’re doing it to get your brain out of a rut.
    Jeri recently posted…The Art of Self-Sabotage: The Top 5 Reasons Why Writers Avoid Writing by Justine Tal GoldbergMy Profile

  8. Irish Carter

    HI Marty,
    I’m smiling like I always do when I read your articles. You are so over the top inspiring. Thank you for that! I got two BIG things from this article. When you talked about what if we got stuck or all believed that our outcomes were built upon our pasts. I would be living a much different life. What I have told myself so that I can move forward in life is that my past and where I came from in my youth are my roots and how I choose to grow is up to me. I have to nourish myself like a tree, right? Secondly, the age thing…..oh man do too many people use this. I think that it is a comfort crutch for them because we get comfortable in our mindsets and where we are. Stepping out of the comfort zone is a bit scary ya know!

    I certainly do believe we can change. I believe we can be whoever it is we want to become. I believe we can do what we want in our lives if we create a plan and drive the action in place to make it happen.

    Irish Carter recently posted…Tips to Improve Your Emotional Health!  Be Motivated and Find Happiness!My Profile

  9. donna merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    You always hit the nail on the head and in this particular subject you are spot on. We have to believe we can change in order to do so.

    I like the way what you have written about change and “age” because I have encountered so many women 50 and over that cling on the the excuse “I’m too old to change”

    Then I look at my own mom, she is in her 80’s and has made drastic changes in her life. She has been doing Yoga for 10 years, also became a vegetarian about 15 years back, and has mastered the internet during the past two years. She is writing her memoirs and I’m sure that will make a great ebook one day.

    She believed she could change and there is no excuse for clinging on to the age factor.

    Oh there are so many excuses people use not to change! If only they could drop those excuses and work on a different mindset. There is so much help out there, it is easy to make changes in our lives.

    Fantastic advice you have given here and I’ll spread the news!

    donna merrill recently posted…Link Dropping Pisses Me OffMy Profile

    • So glad you found value in the article Donna and I love the story about your mother! I also have a couple of women in my life who have served as role models in this regard and seeing their energy and passion for life has helped me to realize that what we see as limitations are merely plateaus. Thanks so much for sharing and spreading the word! 🙂

  10. Dave Cenker

    Although it should not be a determining factor, I do believe that there is another influencing factor towards initiating change – having a positive support system around you. I hesitate to label this as influential since it is casting ownership of your desire to change outside of yourself, but then I thought about it. In the end, we still do have a choice as to who we surround ourselves with. If we want to change badly enough and if the people around us don’t support it – well, then you are surrounded by the wrong people. Either way, you always do have a choice.

    No matter what type of change we undergo (the type we initiate, or the type that is pressed upon us), we don’t always have a choice as to what happens, but we do have a a choice as to how we respond – which is ultimately more important.

    I really truly like your last statement – make sure you are making change because you really want it, not just for the sake of something different. I can tell you that I have been lured into this trap before. Something is amiss and you just begin to change random aspects of your life around you hoping the mud will stick to the proverbial wall. Taking time to invest in what you deem as really important will help the process of change be a much tamer beast to handle 🙂

    I have really been enjoying this series Marty, and it is the perfect way to begin the new year when there are external pressures to change “something” as a part of resolutions. Well done once again, my friend 🙂
    Dave Cenker recently posted…Little thingsMy Profile

    • Hey Dave, great point about the support system! I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of surrounding ourselves with the right people, and of course you are very right that we have a choice about who they are, although from my experience most people will put up with all manner of things and people for no other reason than it’s less painful than risking not fitting in or loneliness. I will admit I focus heavily on self-motivation and accountability simply because I’ve seen firsthand the damage that can be done when those near and dear don’t support our dreams. I suppose I think of having people in our lives who cheer us on as the cherry on the top of the sundae. 🙂

  11. Christine Larsen

    I love positive thinking Marquita.
    It can take you through the worst of times, always heading towards that light at the end of the tunnel.
    And I thoroughly agree with not allowing age or ability to get in your way – so many things are possible with the right mindset.
    I have another saying that challenges me –
    ‘If not now… then when?’

  12. BINGO! I think sometimes people misunderstand the entire word “change” and I also believe that some folks just chase change for changes sake without any clear sense of purpose. It’s those folks I think are running from something instead of running to a better way. But I think has people a little hincky these days….LOL…because the speed of change has indeed intensified…just look at technology! 1.You must have a strong positive intention (commitment) to change. THIS hit home for me
    2. You must have a strong belief that the advantages of creating the change outweigh the disadvantages. So much doubt can creep in here
    3.Your desire to change must be consistent with your self-image, values and highest life priorities. This I think is the most understood. That by invoking change you won’t be you anymore. Wonderful post! LOVE it!
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) recently posted…Opinion… Where’s The Justice?My Profile

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