Why is change sometimes so damn hard?

Why is change sometimes so damn hard?

Why is change sometimes so damn hard?

For some of us, there is an area of our life where change seems too damn hard. Maybe it’s getting healthy, maybe it’s changing that pesky habit, maybe it’s getting that promotion. We look to friends or others in social media who are succeeding in those realms, and think, “they have no idea how hard it is!” and “why is it so easy for them?”.

Change is hard because of our expectations.

We tend to think that we should see a linear relationship between our efforts and our results. In other words, more efforts, more results.

However that often doesn’t happen, and then we get discouraged and might even give up.

Introducing the Plateau of Latent Potential

I just recently read “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, and he presents a concept called the “plateau of latent potential”. The plateau of latent potential says that we can put a lot of effort into changing a habit, and see no results for a long time. But if we do enough things and stick with our goals for long enough, that shift will happen. We just have to be patient.

Plateau of Latent Potential from Atomic Habits by James Clear


It’s just like chopping frozen vegetables. I was chopping frozen asparagus this morning. At first it was super hard to cut through, and I found myself sawing away at it, with tons of effort. But when I got about half way through the spear, it took no additional effort to cut through it. All the work was up front, and by the time I was halfway through, it was magically easy!

The reward I was getting for chopping the asparagus was not linear. It took a lot of effort up front, and virtually none at the end. The results of my efforts went from painfully slow and hard, to extremely fast and easy!

While James Clear was talking about habit change, this can be applied tp anything you are trying to achieve, whether it’s getting over a disease, being healthy, becoming a professional speaker, or finding a soul mate!

How the Plateau of Latent Potential applies to healing

As I reflected on this concept, I realized how this explained my own healing journey. Life was so hard when I was mired in depression, anxiety and self-loathing. I spent so much effort battling (without much success) my inner demons, that I wasn’t able to focus my energy effectively on growth. I felt like my goals and dreams were covered with molasses, and that I was constantly being tripped up and thrown backwards into more trials and tribulations.

But I found effective methods to heal, and I stuck to them. I saw changes here and there, but still overall, from the outside, I doubt others would have seen any changes. If I had focused on the larger goals instead of fixing underlying problems that got in the way, I probably would have given up long ago. But finding the problems that are getting in the way and fixing them is my key to success.

Sometimes the change is linear, but more often than not, it follows the plateau of latent potential.

Why change is hard for some and easy for others

The plateau of latent potential explains why growth appears to be so easy for others. Others might not have had all those barriers we struggled with, or alternatively, they may have already found ways to overcome them. We don’t usually see the struggle. We usually just see the overnight success.

So if you feel like giving up, because change seems too damn hard, don’t. As James Clear says, every action you make is a vote towards being the type of person you want to be. If you don’t see the results right away, it’s because you’ve got more barriers to overcome, before you find that door to smooth sailing. But the more you persist and problem solve, the closer you are to the sweet spot where growth feels magically easy!

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