Changing Your Life Won’t Change Your Life

Changing Your Life Won’t Change Your Life

Or why changing your NPD won’t change your NPD

 Joshua Fields Millburn, from the Minimalists, is on to something. This beautiful email just landed in my inbox:

Human beings are infatuated with “habit change.”
But changing one’s habits does not change one’s life.
Because lasting change doesn’t work like that.If you desire the simple life,
decluttering is a dead end.If you strive for financial freedom,
“better” spending habits won’t get you there.If you want to live healthfully,
“improving” your diet won’t make things right.

Indeed, anything you do
to “change your life”
won’t change your life.


Because if you start with the how,
you inadvertently forsake the why.

Big mistake.

Sure, you may embrace new methods and modalities,
new tips and tricks and techniques,
and they will improve your mechanics.

You can change your habits.
Clean out your cupboards.
Pay down your debts.
Shed a few pounds.

At first, the benefits will seem plentiful.

But then
a day later,
a month later,
a year later,
when new obstacles emerge,
you will wonder…

Why the change didn’t stick.
Why the “bad” habits returned.
Why the pounds resurfaced.
Why the debt reappeared.
Why the clutter crept back.


If you don’t understand why
you’re doing what you’re doing,
you will always regress to old patterns.

It’s not your fault; it’s cultural conditioning.
People are programmed to praise prescriptions-
we are habituated to habitually enhance our habits-
without exploring the depths of our trauma.

Society instructs us
to grow endlessly,
to make progress,
to take massive action,
to “just do it.”

But the doing takes us only halfway, and then leaves us stranded.
Discernment, on the other hand, catapults us to the finish line.

Recipes and formulas work well for perfunctory pastimes—
for baking a cake or organizing a sock drawer—
but beyond the basics, they get in the way.

An instruction manual leaves no room for greatness.
No room for interrogating the mess.
No room for profound personal breakthroughs.

In the real world,
the world of constant change,
in which nothing is “fixed,”
the method always follows the breakthrough.
Not the other way around.

Once you are sufficiently exasperated by the status quo,
once the suffering associated with not changing is intolerable,
once the cost of your current state is no longer acceptable,
you will experience a quantum shift in understanding,
and change will be simple.

Of course, simple is never effortless, but the lasting change that is propelled
by awareness is far mightier than any half-hearted action “sparked” by habit change.

When you realize the truth—

Clutter doesn’t make you discontented,
chasing contentment through consumerism does.

A lack of money doesn’t make you broke,
hunting happiness through hedonism does.

Food doesn’t make you fat,
seeking satisfaction through surfeit does.

—that’s when lasting change arrives.

The root of your misery grows out of excess.
“Bad” habits are merely a byproduct of being unaware.

I know because, for years, I tried to “change my life.”
I employed the “right” habits
at the “right” intervals
with the “right” tools and intentions.

Yet even with diet plans, budget calculators, and organization systems,
I remained obese, indebted, and surrounded by clutter.

But the moment I comprehended the real problem—
the problem beneath the surface problems—
I was able to let go of societal solutions.
That’s when everything actually changed.

Stated plainly:
Changing your life
won’t change your life.
But understanding will.

The moment you understand the source of your troubles,
an awareness flows through every fiber of your being,
and habits change without volition.
For once you see the problem in its entirety,
you will have no choice but to change.

Source: Joshua Fields Millburn, the Minimalists. Find the Minimalists posts here

Change. It takes a shift. In understanding.
Really ‘seeing’ the problem and seeing what’s possible. If you don’t really want it, it won’t happen. And sometimes a big event in life makes you see the light. I recall when one of our family friends had a heart attack at 40 years old. The shock made him see the light and he changed all his habits, quit smoking, started eating healthier food, started sporting, all the things he hadn’t done. And he’s still on to it. Living a healthy life and enjoying it, now in his 80s. It was interesting to notice that it took several years for his family to start to make those changes to their own lives. Somehow they didn’t get that same deep understanding from the event.

Joshua talks about a personal shift. I see the same in business. The moment the ‘light comes on’ is when a person, a team, an organisation really starts to shift levels.

In New Product Development the understanding is in seeing the bigger problem – the effect not just on the PD team, but on the other teams (OPS, Purchasing, QA, Sales, Marketing), on the constant ‘favours’, the partnerships with suppliers, the shortcuts…. there’s risk in that. It’s not sustainable. And it won’t get you to where you and the team aspire to be, the global award winning innovation centre for your organisation.

In contrast, when NPD flows, everyone smiles, energy flows, ideas flow, better solutions flow, great partnerships develop, money starts to flow and the awards come in, attracting great talent, smart solutions, great partners and differentiating ideas. It’s how you become leading edge, outstanding.

You can reverse the vicious cycle. Amazing changes are possible, but it comes from deep within. Like Joshua states, it starts with an understanding. For NPD to change, the company owner/CEO needs to have that understanding, that ‘lightbulb’ moment. Without that, nothing changes. You’ve got to understand that NPD is not just one person or one team, it takes everyone. Don’t let it come to a big shocking event to flick the ‘lightbulb’ ton.

Where’s your understanding at?

Let’s design for the better!

Onwards & upwards,



About Saskia

Saskia is a new product development expert. She helps organisations to unlock their potential to consistently deliver new products faster, better, more profitable and with more fun.

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