Can’t vs Won’t: What Is Your Mindset About Behavior Change?

Posted on November 22, 2023 by Nate Regier / 1 comments
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What is your mindset about behavior change? Is it a battle, or a journey?

You’ve been told by your doctor that your age and lifestyle are catching up with you and you need to eat healthy and exercise more. You decide to take it seriously. But what kind of relationship do you have with what you’ve been told by your doctor? How you view your journey is revealed by what you tell people in those moments when you are tempted to revert back to those unhealthy behaviors.


When faced with temptation, do you say things like, “I can’t eat fries.” or “I have to exercise?” If so, your relationship with change can become a battle, characterized in this way:

  • Adversarial battle – it’s you against temptation.
  • Black-or-white, all-or-nothing thinking.
  • Easily discouraged if you don’t see immediate results.
  • External locals of control. Your doctor told you not to do it.
  • If you relapse, you’ve done something bad, let someone down.
  • Fear and shame are the emotional motivators.
  • It’s easy to lose momentum when you mess up.
  • It’s easy to blame something or someone else.
  • It’s easy to get down on yourself when you don’t live up to the standard.


When faced with temptation, do you say things like “I won’t have the fries.” or “I want to get some exercise today?” If so, your relationship with change might be more of a journey, characterized by:

  • A continuous process of improvement over time.
  • Appreciation for the messiness of change.
  • Internal locus of control. You choose to do it.
  • You are 100% responsible for your choices.
  • Guilt and fear are replaced with patience, perseverance, and resilience. You play the long game.
  • You have to set boundaries with yourself and others.
  • If you relapse, you learn from it, recover, and get better.
  • The buck stops with you. No blaming.

Which approach do you take? Which one do you think gets better long-term results?

This dynamic applies not only to diet and lifestyle but to any type of behavior change.

What words do you use? What is your mindset? How is it serving you?

What if you changed your attitude and started owning the journey?

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Posted on November 27, 2023

Great insight-very empowering. Thanks!

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