Making a change is hard. Habit, routine, addiction, convenience, or a thousand other reasons keep us doing the same thing over and over again, even if it’s terribly unhealthy. Or dangerous. Or even deadly.

It takes a big enough reason to endure the anxiety, setbacks, difficulty, or even pain that may be involved in making a lifestyle change. Sometimes that reason is positive, where the outcome you desire is enticing enough to work hard for. Sometimes that reason is negative, where the pain of remaining where you are is big enough to force a change.

We usually respond better to positive reasons for change. But when severe enough, sometimes a negative reason will do.

Before we were married I watched my husband Al struggle with tobacco addiction. He had smoked for over 45 years. In fact he says he never remembers a time when he didn’t smoke. He knew all the negative health consequences. He watched his friend die from the respiratory effects of smoking. He himself had developed some serious health problems as a result.

But he kept on smoking.

Then we got married, and he quit. It was hard. It was a long time before it wasn’t a struggle. But he hasn’t had a cigarette since.

If you ask him why he quit, Al will tell you that he finally had a big enough reason to quit. He wanted to stay alive long enough to enjoy life with me for as long as possible. And that gave him the motivation to go through the very difficult process of change.

If you need to make a significant lifestyle change, what’s your reason? Until you find a reason that’s big enough, it’s unlikely you’ll be successful.

I think of Kathrine Lee, whose good friend died during pregnancy. That was her wake-up call, her big enough reason to make a lifestyle change. She lost a large amount of weight and now helps others create healthy lifestyles for themselves.

I think of Dave Ramsey, who lost everything over a couple years’ time because of debt. That led him to radically change his relationship with money, and now he helps millions of people do the same.

I think of the dad who stopped using smokeless tobacco when his son got old enough to notice. His son was his big enough reason.

I think of the woman who goes home from the hospital after a heart attack and adopts a completely different diet, and walks every day.

I think of the student who goes to school all day and works all night so his son and daughter can have a better life than he had growing up.

I think of the mom or dad who experienced divorce growing up, and who now spend many hours in high-quality marriage therapy learning new ways of relating. They don’t want their children to experience the pain they went through.

What’s YOUR big enough reason?

If you need to make a lifestyle change, carefully choose your “big enough” reason. It may be the difference between failure and success.

Your turn: What change do you need to make in your lifestyle? What have you found helpful when you need to make a change? Leave a comment below. 

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