How to Develop Willingness to Change

How does a person develop willingness to change?

For some people, the struggle is real.

And I imagine you are one of those people if you’ve found your way to this post. However, the fact that you have found your way to this post tells me you have enough willingness to develop willingness to change. So probably more than you think.

To develop willingness, the secret is finding your passion and purpose. In my experience, if you are in touch with those aspects, then your willingness knows no bounds. Or as one of my favourite fellow bloggers Mark Manson says, “if you love and want something enough—whatever it is—then you don’t really mind eating the shit sandwich that comes with it.”

I’ve written a guide to finding your passion and purpose.

This post contains some additional insights for the things that might be stopping you from developing willingness to change, learn or grow.

A lack of self-honesty

Non-acceptance is often behind an apparent lack of willingness to change. Without being able to admit to yourself that you are suffering, or wasting your time blaming others instead of taking responsibility for your situation, willingness gets shackled from the get-go.

Practice acceptance and responsibility. They are among the two healthiest emotional habits.

You lack clarity

Another key thing that stops people from developing willingness is having the clarity on what they want to change.

So how do you get clarity?

In my observations, we all know deep down what needs to change in our lives. But if you have really gotten out of touch, you can try doing a value clarification exercise. 

Low confidence or fear of failure

If it is not clarity, then a lack of confidence or a fear of failing might be stopping you.

To that I would say that confidence is cultivable, and fear of failing is best remedied by adopting a growth mindset.

Lack of practicality

If neither self-honesty, clarity or confidence are lacking, then perhaps what’s stopping you from developing willingness is a lack of realism or experience in executing your ideas. For this specific issue, you can try the use of a Willingness and Action plan.

Willingness and Action plan

A Willingness and Action plan is something I discovered from the book the Happiness Trap. The exercise offers a way to honestly evaluate your willingness.

How to do a Willingness and Action plan:

Trot out the answers to the following questions:

  1. My goal is to…
  2. The values underlying my goal are…
  3. The thoughts, feelings, sensations and urges I’m willing to have in order to achieve this goal are…
  4. It would be useful to remind myself that…
  5. I can break this goal down into smaller steps, such as…
  6. The smallest, easiest step I can begin with is…
  7. The time, day, and date that I will take that first step is…

Here’s an example of how this works:

  1. My goal is to… write a book.
  2. The values underlying my book are…crystallising everything I’ve learned about personal development in the past five years (self realisation and creativity), helping others (love and contribution).
  3. The thoughts etc that I am willing to have to achieve the goal are… boredom, feeling like I’m wasting my time, tiredness, feeling trapped, hopelessness, loneliness, FOMO, uncertainty and insecurity.
  4. It would be useful to remind myself that… I’m not my thoughts or feelings.
  5. I can break this goal into smaller steps, such as…working on my book on the first hour of each day.
  6. The smallest, easiest step I can begin with is…writing a sentence.
  7. The time, day and date is… right here right now.

Writing this all down is useful, because it helps you to see what you are going to be up against.

In addition, you might want to account for the crappy dark days.

Taking the example above, some days working on book feels like an uphill battle and everything I am writing is terrible.

On those days, I have some useful mantras and self-talk, along the lines of trusting the process, having patience, etc. I’m realistic about expecting those bad days, being aware of other writers’ creative process. I know how to encourage myself and keep it going.

Whatever your goal is, you’ll need a similar skill.


Developing willingness to change is, in my experience, key to personal growth.

The most important thing is finding something you are passionate about enough to withstand obstacles.

Otherwise, developing willingness means being honest about your pain, developing clarity on what change needs to happen, and having the confidence and practicality to see things through.