How to Change when Change is Hard

Have you ever wondered why it can seem so difficult to make changes you want in your life? It can feel like we are running around in circles, trapped in the same Groundhog Day as we re-visit the same challenges again and again. But the thing that stands out most when I look back over 20 years of helping people achieve what is important to them is not only how often people feel powerless to change things but also how quickly things can move once they see what is really getting in the way. And what gets in the way is rarely a lack of know-how.

The problem with change isn’t know–how it’s what I call “do-how,” the capacity to act in a way that is consistent with the changes you want. If know-how is about knowing what to do then do-how is about actually doing it. There’s a big difference and it’s in that difference that the key to success lies.

The real question we need to ask ourselves when we want to change is not “do we have the know-how” but rather “do we have the do-how?” In my book I set out four proven and practical steps that get to the heart of what you need to do to develop the do-how you need. By following these steps you can make a breakthrough and make the changes you want in your work and in your life. The four steps are:

Recognise Your Do-How Moments

There are crucial moments when we have a choice to behave in a different way that can lead to a breakthrough. What we choose to do in that moment either perpetuates our sense of being powerless or takes us beyond our current limits to create change and deliver results. We can learn to recognise these moments by realising that, when we experience negative emotions this can be seen as a signpost telling us that we have reached the limit of our current ways of thinking and behaving but that we have the power to choose. This insight bucks the trend in many modern approaches to personal development to focus entirely on the positive. Experience shows that it is when individuals confront their deepest fears and insecurities that the real breakthroughs are made.

Spell out the Breakthrough You Want

Anyone can picture the positive, precise, possibility for the breakthrough you want. By being clear about what change in behaviour you intend to make you can make it easier to step beyond the limits of your current ways of thinking and behaving.

Uncover Your Hidden Rules

Everyone has hidden rules that determine much of how they behave and think. Every time you have a thought such as “I shouldn’t …” or “he should …” that’s a hidden rule kicking in. These rules are the source of the success in your life but also they the source of your limitations. If you are a good listener that’s because you have a rule that it’s good to listen. If you find it difficult to say no it’s probably because you have a hidden rule that it’s important not to upset people. Unless your hidden rules are uncovered and brought to conscious attention they will always hijack your efforts to choose a different approach. But, when you finally spot them – that’s when a breakthrough happens.

Take Responsibility for Change

One of the most common ways in which people sabotage their own success is by blaming other people or events for the problems and difficulties they face. This attitude makes people powerless and leaves them thinking that there is nothing they can do. In reality people always have the power to chose if they choose to take back that power. And when they do any breakthrough is possible.

Article by Dave Corbet

Dave Corbet is the co-author of From Know-how to Do-How – a short and simple guide to making change happen.

To find out more about your hidden rules visit

2 thoughts on “How to Change when Change is Hard

  1. Will Edwards

    Hi Mitch

    Thanks for letting me know. I contacted Dave and forwarded your details to him.

    Will 🙂

  2. Mitch

    I tried filling in the information on the Do How page and nothing happens. Can you help?

Leave a Reply