I spend every day talking to people about change.

Typically this change can be classified into two types:

1.  Change that is self-initiated—or that you want to make

2.  Change that is not initiated by you, but just occurs naturally, suddenly, or unexpectedly and is outside of you and your control

Much has been written about reacting adapting to, and managing the second, uninitiated type of change. That type of change is not the subject of this post today.

In this post, I am talking about making a change that you say you want to make—a change that you initiate for your own growth, development, or good.

Think of a change you have tried to make.  Pick any change.

Maybe it was losing and keeping off weight? Or maybe it was being more mindful of your verbalized emotional reactions?

Whatever the change was–were you successful?  And if you were—did you sustain it?


The people I listen to and help every day say they want to make a change— change in behavior, habits, patterns, and/or actions— with the ultimate goal of continued personal growth and maximizing their personal impact.

When you have these sorts of conversations day after day—you can’t help but notice patterns—and start to see what works and what doesn’t.

I have seen some very smart, talented people fail at making and sustaining the changes they say they really, really want to make. Intelligence, talent, desire, and intention have nothing to do with making and sustaining self-initiated change.

And I have seen people initiate and make and sustain astounding, long-term, transformational changes in themselves.

So what does determines whether someone will be successful making the change or changes they intend to make?

Whether it is modifying the way you talk to people in order to improve your interpersonal relationships, learning to give better presentations, achieving more work/life balance, changing your personal “presence”, or losing weight and improving your fitness—the success ingredients to achieve any of these things are the same.

If you want to make a change, and have it stick and really materialize—these five “musts” need to be present:

1.  You must really want it

If you are going to make a change, you must genuinely want to do it. You can’t make the change because someone else wants you to, or because it is a “good thing” to do—you must feel the need for the change emotionally—deep inside of yourself.   If you are going to change your fitness level, for example—you have to really want to be more fit. Not just be lukewarm about it or do it because you think it is the right thing to do. Your mindset is critical to your ultimate success. Do you really, really want to change?

2.   You must know why you want it

If you really do want to change—you must know and internalize why. Why do you want to change? Again, lukewarm emotions and answers don’t provide enough fuel for sustained action here. Why is this change important to you? Why will you invest your time, energy, and heart and soul into making this change happen? Why does it matter to you? Why?

3.   You must really commit

If you have the emotional drive and mindset in full gear from your deep want and why—the 3rd ingredient is your insurance policy to be sure you follow through. You must commit to making the change and following through on it. This is what gets you through the excuses you make and the times you don’t feel like following through. This is what keeps you finding a way when you think there isn’t one.

No-one else is responsible for this and no-one can make you do it… only your own commitment will help you come through. Time and time again—I see this ingredient as the key differentiator in those that make and sustain real change and those who don’t. The question is—are you really committed to the change? What does commitment mean? What will you do to keep your commitment?

4.   You must have an action plan

A key stumbling block is not knowing what to do to make the change and leaving it to chance. You can really want to do something, know why you want to do it, and be 100% committed to it—but not know what to do or have a clear path to get you there. Writing out the 5-6 actions you are going to take (with your unswerving commitment) gives you a path forward to follow. Part of your actions could be doing research on what you don’t know or taking a class to develop your skill. Whatever your actions are—outline the path towards the change.

5.   You must actually DO what you said you would do

Intentions, commitment, and an action plan are dead without the essential ingredient to success—action! I can’t tell you how many times I hear people passionately talk about doing something—carefully plan it, and then fail to take action. If you want to be fit—you have to exercise. If you are not doing this step—then I’d ask yourself whether your 3rd ingredient, commitment, is really there. Without actually continuously doing what you said you wanted to do and were committed to doing—nothing will change…


You might be thinking that there is no new information here and that you already know that these five ingredients are the keys to making the change you want to make. You might think that there was no news flash or “secret sauce” revealed to you.

And you’d be right.

There is nothing really secret or new about these ingredients. You might even regard them as common sense. Regardless–what is clear from both my own personal change journey and from the experiences of thousands of other people—common sense does not equate to common practice.

My hope is that you will use this post today as a catalyst to think about the change or changes you want to make, and ask yourself these questions:

Do you really want to make a change?


Are you really committed to changing?

What actions are you going to take to make the change real?


When will you start?


I’d love to hear about your experience with making real, lasting changes.  Drop me a note.  And if you’re ready for some deeper changes, check out my new program, Soul Search Sessions, which is all about making big changes.