View All Articles

Being Willing to Change

When asked, most people would say that there is something they want to change about themselves or their life. Whether they want to strengthen a relationship, learn a new skill, or develop a healthy habit, humans by nature are often looking for ways to improve, with the hope that that improvement will make them happier, more successful, or more fulfilled.

“If you want to be the best, you have to do things that other people aren’t willing to do.”

Michael Phelps

We believe that change is a good thing—especially when you’re trying to change your thoughts. After all, it’s your thoughts that truly have the power to bring more happiness and peace to your life, more so than your outside circumstances. Learning to change and design your thoughts is the best way to live a happier life.

So yes, wanting to change is good, and for many people, that desire comes naturally. 

What doesn’t always come naturally, however, is the willingness to change.

And unfortunately, without that willingness, all the “want” in the world will get you nowhere.

Wanting vs being willing

“Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.”

Les Brown

What do you want?

Maybe you want to get into your first-choice college, or start a business. Maybe you want to compete in the Olympics, or win a Nobel Prize. Or maybe you want to reconnect with an old friend, take up a new hobby, or save up for a down payment on a house.

We all want different things: big and small, long- and short-term, lofty and well-within reach. We may want some things very badly, and others are more take-it-or-leave-it. 

But no matter what you want or how badly you want it, the hard truth is this: you won’t get it if you’re not willing to put in the effort for it.

You won’t get into your ideal college if you don’t apply and meet minimum qualifications. You won’t compete in the Olympics without dedicating endless hours to training. Your reacquaintance with an old friend won’t happen unless you reach out, and certainly, that down payment isn’t going to save itself.

In other words, without the willingness to work, wanting something is essentially pointless.

Being willing to change yourself

It’s clear to see how this principle applies to external goals like Olympic medals or big purchases, but it holds just as true when you’re trying to make changes on the inside. 

For example, let’s say you want to become a more positive person. This is a worthy goal for a lot of reasons, but, as is the case with any goal, wanting it isn’t enough. It requires deliberate and purposeful work and effort if you’re going to create the real, lasting change you’re looking for. 

Before this work can even begin in earnest, however, there’s one crucial element that needs to be developed: self-awareness.


Willingness and self-awareness often go hand in hand. Why? Because when you’re truly willing to change, you’re willing to closely examine your thoughts, actions, and motives—even if it means uncovering a weakness or flaw.

Similarly, self-awareness fosters willingness. When you know yourself, and you are fully aware of the things that are holding you back, you’re more likely to be willing to do what it takes to overcome those weaknesses and create change.

But what does self-awareness look like, and how can you become more self-aware? True self-awareness has a few defining characteristics, and knowing them can help you develop this important trait.

Self-awareness is honest. 

If you’re going to be self aware, you have to be generously honest with and about yourself. Of course, that’s easier said than done. It’s not too difficult for us to look at other people and point out their flaws (and their strengths, for that matter), but it’s a lot harder to see our own—and even harder to own up to them.

That said, you are not being truly self aware if you are trying to hide, minimize, or downplay your faults. Likewise, you’re not being self aware if you are ignoring your strengths. And boy do you have strengths! So many you can’t count them.

Design.org Shop

Self-awareness is objective.

Self-awareness is not the same thing as self-judgement. Being aware of your faults does not mean you should beat yourself up over them, just as knowing your strengths doesn’t mean you should flaunt them.

The problem with introducing judgement into your self-awareness is that it can get in the way of your willingness to change. If you judge your character as “bad,” you might feel too discouraged to try to change; if you judge yourself as “good,” you might convince yourself that change isn’t necessary or worth the effort. Or you could just know you are great and live into that!

This doesn’t mean that self-awareness won’t spur you to change: it will. It just means that you let your awareness be just that—awareness.

Self-awareness is clear.

Self-awareness should help you find answers—not bring up more questions. It should help you make a little more sense of the world and your place in it. It should teach you about your motives, desires, and abilities. When you’re self aware, you have a more complete understanding of the kind of person you are, and why.

The path to self-awareness can be difficult (in fact, there are plenty of obstacles in the way), but if you’re willing to be honest and objective, being self-aware should feel like clarity, not confusion.

By becoming self-aware, you’ll uncover truths about yourself that can only help you progress. You’ll discover strengths that can be used to your advantage, and you’ll discover weaknesses that can be overcome. Either way, this knowledge can increase your willingness and ability to change.

If you’re not willing to change

If you want to change but you’re not willing to change, then any theory, method, or idea isn’t going to help you get what you want. You could hear the most advanced ideas from the most renowned experts, and they wouldn’t do you any good. Without that willingness, it’s all useless.

So what if you realize that you are, in fact, missing that willingness? Here are a few things to try.

  • Work on your self-awareness. As we discussed, self-awareness and willingness are linked. As you come to know yourself better, you’ll inevitably be inspired and motivated to find the will to change.
  • Do some thought work about what it is you want, and why. Reminding yourself of your goals, or of the kind of life you want to live, can only help you as you try to be more willing. 
  • Learn more about hope. Building hope can be a great first step in any journey toward a happier life. Once you have more hope for a happier future, it could help you develop a stronger willingness to do what it takes to make that future a reality. If you think you could use some help developing hope, take our self assessment to get started. You can also learn more about the power of hope here

“Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.”

John Heywood

Developing a willingness to change is a mark of progression toward a more meaningful life. Once you discover that you’re willing to work for what you want, you’ll increase your chances of actually getting it. 

We wish you luck. Luck is simply an opportunity that meets preparation. Your chances become 100% as you put in the work and stay in the work. You can do this!

Try Design.org for free!

Get started with an assessment to receive personalized coaching and affirmations for 30 days, at no cost.