caneel logo white

3 Secrets to Sustainable Change


Learning and personal growth is a favorite hobby of many personally and professionally. We are interested in the process of finding out what part of ourselves is going to shine next. We look at: what can I do differently, better, harder, faster, or more?

The secret is that there is a completely different (and easier) way to support your own growth, change, and transformation. It involves knowing how to grow in a way that is much more powerful. This way leads to sustainable on-going change.

Typically, we follow a pattern of asking ourselves questions like: How can I become better? How do I become a better leader of not just my team but my life?

Then we try hard to grow in multiple ways and we push and push only to find ourselves burnt out and unfulfilled and in the same place that we started. We try to make our lives better by “efforting.”

First, we identify what we think is the “problem,” then we rush in and look for “what is the solution?” Give me the steps (x, y & z) so I don’t have to feel or experience or know about this problem anymore. We try to make the problem go away.

We begin to blame, judge, and/or criticize ourselves and others or the systems around us. Then, during this process, we get so busy, and we become too overwhelmed with all the “efforting” in our plan to be able to sustain the change.

And the reality is…

A lot of what we are trying to become isn’t really what we want to become.

Secret #1: Without a willingness to change, there is no change.

In order to sustain a change, we have to be willing for that change to happen.

If you are genuinely willing to do something, then you probably are already doing it. You are motivated and you are in action already. If you are not willing, you may still want the change, you may still want to learn about it, but you are keeping yourself stuck in a variety of ways.

One example is you might not really want the change as much as you think you do. You are just trying to convince yourself you want it.

You may be telling yourself “I’m not allowed to change in that way.” You are afraid of the roadblocks and the things you will have to overcome in order to change.

So ask yourself, what is something in your life you’ve been wanting to change for a long time, but if you really admit it, you just aren’t willing to make that change?

There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, tapping into your own willingness is a huge leverage point for identifying what you really want in life. Give yourself permission to say the powerful words “I don’t want to.”

Can you do this without judging yourself?

Practice saying “I don’t want to.”

Secret #2: How am I BEing? What am I DOing?

Begin by approaching the change from a very specific state of BEing. If you approach the change from a state of BEing that is not present, then you will find yourself BEing more self-critical, self-flagellating. This can lead to feeling like a victim of your own life, your own shortcomings or of those who are keeping you down.

Your way of BEing is what creates the DOing. Instead of looking at what you could be DOing differently, begin by looking at how are you BEing right now that is creating what you are DOing, and is creating the results you are experiencing right now.

Look at your life by zooming back and asking “How am I BEing?”

Are you being busy, stressed, creative, abundant, focused, at ease, energized, calm, exhausted, overwhelmed, under-exercised, lonely, overstimulated etc.?

Look at each of those ways of BEing that you identified and think about what you are DOing? What are the ways in your life that you are BEing right now and how are each of those leading you to DO specific activities?

This exercise shows us not how we want it to be, but how it is. It is our reality.

Then look at how what you are DOing is leading to certain results. What are the results for you and others that are created from your ways of DOing?

Take 100% responsibility for what you can control. Your own actions and your own choices.

For example, my busy-ness leads to me avoiding exercise which then leads to me not being as strong or fit as I want to be.

Next look at how could I BE slightly different: where am I willing and interested in BEing slightly different? Envision if your result was totally the best you can ever imagine, even better than the best you can imagine.

What would it look like? How would you need to BE different in order to DO differently to achieve this best result?

Sustainable change follows the path of least resistance. Find this one small way of BEing that you are willing to make a shift on and it can lead to an easier more natural way of DOing for you that can change everything.

Secret #3: The Change Formula

Humans, in general, resist change. We like things to stay the same. It feels safe. It feels familiar. We have already adjusted and change takes energy.

We tend to stay in inertia and our life stays the same way that it is, which is good and bad. If you love your life, awesome! If you’re feeling unfulfilled, you are stuck and it’s time to change.

In order to overcome your resistance to change and to become that change, you have to flip into being willing to change. You need three things for this to happen.

You need a vision, you need discomfort and you need support.

The change formulaVision x Discomfort + Support = Willing to Change

You need to have a vision. It needs to be so clear, specific, and compelling that it lights your body on fire. You want it. The best vision really taps into your body in a way that it calls forth your creative energy. It really turns you on. If you don’t feel this way about your vision, then it is going to be hard.

There are ways to get your vision to this level if you are not feeling it. You can create a vision board, you can visualize it with your mind, or you can ask a friend to help you to push the vision as far as you can. Sometimes it just takes pushing the vision farther to break into your creative energy surrounding it. Listen to your body on this as it will be your guide to a clear, really compelling vision.

The second thing you need in order to overcome resistance to change is discomfort. We don’t like discomfort. We want to avoid it.

That is good. The more uncomfortable you are the more willing you will be to get out of the current circumstance you have created that is making you uncomfortable. Challenge yourself to see the things you don’t want to see. Look at things about yourself, your own way of BEing or your own way of DOing. Face the realities in your life that have been scary to face, the reasons you want this vision.

When you are uncomfortable enough and you’ve multiplied that discomfort by your vision you are looking at a mighty force that will help you become willing to change.

This type of change can be scary which can lead to you reverting backward. This is when you add in support. Support can look like a million things. It can be any kind of support. Maybe you decide to skip a run on Saturday morning so you can sleep in. Or maybe you hire a great therapist or coach. You can read books on things you really enjoy learning about. Or you could plan a get together with a friend.

Particularly though, the most useful support for change tends to be finding a human to support you. Being willing to reach out to others for support can greatly increase sustainable change. Find a community online or in person. There is an added commitment to joining a community that is committed to supporting each other and invested in each other’s success.

With support, you can become more self-aware, feel safer, calmer, more self-regulated and less stressed out while going through the change process. And this is huge.

Sustainable Change is Possible

Sustainable change is possible when we tap into our willingness to change, look at our way of BEing towards the change and work the change formula to implement the change. Creating a community of support and self-awareness leads to a greater commitment to change.

Allowing yourself to push through roadblocks and fears, not self-criticize or blame others, and take 100% responsibility for your own circumstances will have a powerful impact on your growth. Opening yourself up to these possibilities will create more abundance and fulfillment in your life.

Sustainable change and transformation is a journey that requires self-commitment, work, and support, but using the secrets outlined here will help sustain you along this incredible journey of designing yourself into the person you were meant to be.

 For a more in-depth walkthrough of this exercise, listen to The Secrets that Transform your Life and download the free Change Formula worksheet to begin your journey of sustainable change today.

Curious about how a group can support your change in the new year and beyond? Learn more

Photography by Kelley Raye //

Dr. Caneel Joyce is a CEO Coach and social scientist who helps people break out of the invisible traps and make whole-life changes easily and naturally.

Let's connect


Discover experiences that give your life purpose in your Zone of Genius

Executive Coach Dr. Caneel Joyce reveals a life-changing framework that can help you overcome self-doubt, uncover your hidden talents, and radiate with confidence, one small step at a time.