5 Keys to Overcoming Resistance to Change

The fundamental thing in overcoming resistance to change is truly desiring that change and making sure that said transformation strengthens our identity instead of denying it.
5 Keys to Overcoming Resistance to Change

Last update: 20 August, 2020

Whether we like it or not, life is dynamic. Nothing remains static. Therefore, what today is, may not be tomorrow. Still, overcoming resistance to change can be a daunting task for many people. In fact, some try really hard to stop things from changing.

Most of us want to be better. We keep this in mind while we do our daily tasks. However, there are moments where we think about whether or not to pay the price that this growth implies. Maybe we’re scared of failure or the unknown, but there’s a force inside of us that feeds our resistance to change. That explains why we sometimes get stuck on the same thing for a long time, even when we’re not comfortable with it.

Resistance to change is that force that drives us to stay in our comfort zone. Changing implies disrupting our routine, as well as our internal world. It also implies facing new challenges. Undoubtedly, all these things can scare us. However, there are certain keys that can help us overcome our resistance to change. Let’s see 5 of them.

“Fear, uncertainty, and discomfort are your compasses toward growth.”


1. Emotionally attractive goals

When it comes to change, the most important thing is the emotions that go along with the transformation. You sometimes “feel” like you need to change something, but you just don’t want to. In that case, it’s possible that you’ll soon go back to your old ways.

That’s why it’s so important to think about what you really want. When you’re genuinely attracted to a goal, resistance to change will be way easier to overcome. Now, if this goal is very important in your life but you can’t seem to attach your emotions to it, you may want to analyze what’s going on inside of you. What’s keeping you from going through the change you desire?

Woman surrounded by keys.

2. Establishing small and concrete goals

It’s vital that you set a clearly defined goal. Generalities won’t help you overcome your resistance to change. On the contrary, the more diffuse the goal, the more difficult it’ll be to focus your effort on achieving it. That’s why the first thing you must do is define your goal.

Secondly, you must divide your goal into small objectives. If there are too many of them, perhaps you have to narrow it down a little bit more. The idea is that you shouldn’t have to do many tasks in order to reach it. Narrowing your goal down will allow the process to be more manageable. It’ll also help you notice your advances, which will definitely make you feel satisfied and more motivated.

3. Having a clear vision: An important key to overcoming resistance to change

Studies in this field show that rational arguments aren’t enough to overcome resistance to change. We may have the best reasons in the world to change. However, that doesn’t mean they’re going to automatically motivate us. You need to take a step further.

You must have a clear vision of what you want after having faced that change. Visualize what you’ll obtain, as well as what you won’t if you don’t advance in the process. In other words, you must project yourself onto the future. How would your life be if you follow through with this change? This could really motivate you.

“Don’t fear failure. Fear being in the exact same place next year as you are today.”


A girl suspending a pencil with her eyes.

4. Short-term achievements

In addition to dividing your main goal into small objectives, they should be in the short-term. Basically, they shouldn’t take too much of your time. If it’ll take you a long time to reach your goal, you may feel less motivated.

On the other hand, being able to appreciate results in a short amount of time can change your attitude for the better. This helps prove to yourself that you’re indeed making a change in your life. It can drive you to keep moving forward.

5. Changes that strengthen your identity, not deny it

Your identity is something very important when it comes to making a change. Occasionally, we’re so reluctant to change something in our lives because we don’t identify with said change. In fact, there are times where we feel like certain changes go against who we are.

This happens because there may be external forces pressuring you. However, what for some is a worthy goal, may not be for you. If you set your mind to make a change only to please those around you, you’ll most likely fail.

A man jumping after having overcome resistance to change.

These are just some keys to overcoming resistance to change. In this sense, when it comes to change, the most important thing is desiring that change. Humans are usually always able to shape their desires. That’s a good place to start. You should ask yourself what you really want and how far you’d go to get it.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

-Charles Darwin-

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • García, S., & Dolan, S. (1997). La dirección por valores (DPV): el cambio más allá de la dirección por objetivos. McGraw-Hill.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.