At this time of year, everyone is discussing the ever elusive New Year’s Resolution. If we simplify this concept and break it down, we are essentially talking about change. Real change is not easy. In fact, without the essential elements, it can be a frustrating and disheartening process. However, if we understand what it takes to effect change in our lives, we can set ourselves up for success.

Why is change so difficult? In order to answer this question, we must look into human nature a bit more deeply. First, humans are creatures of habit and are generally resistant to new ways of thinking about and/or doing things. So, from a neuro-biological stand point, change requires us to rewire our brains in order to alter our thoughts and behavior.

Second, this process requires time and discipline. On average it takes about six weeks to form a new habit. Given the fast paced nature of our daily lives and our need for immediate gratification, six weeks may feel like six years. This feeling may cause us to abandon our goal prematurely.

Third, as part of the process, a person will encounter an uncomfortable period of adjustment. To see this through, three essential elements must be present: 1) vision 2) perseverance 3) motivation. Maintaining vision, perseverance, and motivation is not easy because along the journey of change we encounter obstacles both internal and external.

These obstacles serve to test our resolve. Such obstacles include: fear, denial, procrastination, rationalization, blame and external influence (ie the friend who says "oh come on one dessert won’t hurt your diet"). If our vision or motivation is not compelling enough, we are bound to fall into these traps. Fourth, this process of change requires support. If you want to be successful, you should not go it alone. It is important to get the right amount of support as well as the right kind of support during this time.

The bigger the goal, the more support is required. Sometimes the difference between success or failure is the kind of support one receives. Having that special person to speak with during times of ambivalence or doubt will remind you why you set the goal in the first place and how far you have come. With this support, you will have renewed sense of faith and resolve; thereby bringing you closer to attaining your goal.

Although change can be uncomfortable and difficult, the pay off is worth it. By understanding the process of change, we can apply the necessary elements to our process, which as a result, will virtually guarantee our success.