Mel Schwartz, LCSW

#126 The Pathway to Your Change Process

How can we change the direction of our lives? What does it take to break free of our personal status quo?

In episode 126 of The Possibility Podcast with Mel Schwartz, I spell out why New Year’s Resolutions fail, and explain the key technique to achieve meaningful and lasting change.

Listen, and then I’d love to hear what you think! Has this quantum perspective on romantic relationships helped you? Be sure to leave a comment with your own thoughts and questions!

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Transcript of The Possibility Podcast with Mel Schwartz #126

Hello everybody and welcome to the Possibility Podcast. I’m your host Mel Schwartz. I practice psychotherapy, marriage counseling, and I am the author of the book The Possibility Principle, the companion to this podcast. I hope to be your thought provocateur and I’ll be introducing you to new ways of thinking and a new game plan for life.

Hello everyone. I’d like to wish you all a healthy, happy, resilient, and prosperous new year and more than a new year, let’s say the rest of your life. You know, it’s the time of year where people often think about changes, how to make changes. People make commitments to themselves and have intentions for change, but we tend to fall short. New year’s resolutions always tend to fail us. And I’m going to try to explain to you why that is and what we need to do to overcome these obstacles to our growth, to our getting into the flow of life. Specifically, the theme that I address often, how our need for certainty puts us on a train track that keeps heading in the same territory.
As I’ve explained often, if I don’t know something that leads to uncertainty and we have a cultural imperative that not knowing is ignorant. Well, knowing something for certain precludes insights, growth. Sometimes we need to try to develop a freedom from the known because the known frankly is boring. It’s predictable. It’s routine.
You see, that’s the trap. If I think that I know and I know the answer, or in a relationship, I know how you feel, or I know the truth, that’s rigid and it’s constraining. It’s not inquiring and open. Think about the capacity for wondering and curiosity. That’s about not knowing. That’s full of life. That’s really engaging in the flow of your own experience. The rigidity of knowing means there’s nothing to discover. There’s no insight. There’s no thrill of not knowing, both in relationship with others and with yourself.
I came across a quote recently from Daniel Kahneman, which goes like this, I enjoy discovering I was wrong because it means I’m now less wrong than before. I don’t know if that’s at first obvious what he’s saying, but if I discover I was wrong, I’m gaining in knowledge. The embrace of uncertainty in discovering I was wrong now means, ironically, I’m less wrong than I was previously. Learning I was wrong adds to my wisdom and my insight and makes me less wrong.
Our relationship with uncertainty is what gets in the way of attaining growth or those New Year’s resolutions because you see, we have a desire to change something, an intention to change it, but then we cling to the predictability and certainty of our beliefs and our thoughts and our comfort zone and that all traps us. If you want to make those New Year’s resolutions come true, or forget the term New Year’s resolutions, if you want to make substantive change in your life, you need to let go of the rigidity of how you’re going to get there. You have to welcome and embrace some discomfort because things feel uncertain.
There’s another aspect to really succeeding in making change. I wrote about this in the epilogue to my book, The Possibility Principle. It goes like this.
To be able to access and manifest change and new possibilities first requires your intention to do so. We’re all familiar with that, but from my experience, so often people indicate their intention but they still don’t take the steps forward. That’s because intention alone doesn’t cut it, it’s not sufficient. To move forward, your intention needs to be coupled with will, willfulness.
Think of a sailboat. You’re out at sea, you hoist the sail. That’s the equivalent of your intention to move, but if there’s no wind, you’re likely not going to go far, you’ll just drift. Now think of the wind billowing through the sail as being commensurate with your own willfulness. You see, typically the word willfulness can be seen as a pejorative. It speaks to somebody being stubborn or unwilling to change directions, they’re so willful. But that’s exactly the quality of resolve and determination that you need to make change in your life. You need willfulness.
What separates those of us who provoke change and summon new possibilities into our life from those of us who struggle and feel stuck is this quality of single-minded willfulness. If you infuse your intention with this deep conviction, think of it this way, intention plus willfulness equals your possibilities, your change process. When you integrate new learning and skills and you fortify them with willful intention, you’re fully participating in your life’s experience. You’re navigating your own course. But if you allow hesitation to distract you, you’re screwed, you’re going to falter. Our core beliefs about ourselves and reality and the ensuing thoughts instruct us as to whether we have the willful intention or the lack of it. That’s what divides people.
You know the expression, why I can’t, as opposed to why can’t I, that speaks to that bifurcation. Now why I can’t obviously expresses your thought looking for reasons not to succeed. Why can’t I opens the door to your future. Try paying close attention to which camp your thoughts fall into. And if it’s the former, ask yourself, where does this belief come from that I can’t, why I can’t.
You now know the process you must engage to release that belief, that imprint of your limitations and confining wave collapses. See the source of what’s holding you back and that enables you to release it and move forward with why can’t I. Willful intention requires why can’t I.  Surge forward. Make this the opportunity to make your change process an integral part of your life. But first you have to choose it and then you need that willful intention.
What greater New Year’s resolution and New Year’s success can you bring into your life than doing just that. I wish you that willful intention. It makes life a completely different experience instead of living day in and day out and thought in and thought out. Is the same old replay. Embrace the uncertainty. You may not know exactly where you’re going, but that shouldn’t provoke fear. What that should do is stimulate excitement. Jump into the flow. It’s your time.
I wish you well. Happy New Year to you. And I look forward to speaking with you again real soon. Bye for now.

I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Possibility Podcast. I welcome your feedback on this and any episode. Please send me an email at mel at or leave a comment in the show notes for this episode at If you like what you’re hearing, please take a moment to rate and review the show at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Your reviews really help boost the visibility for the show, and it’s a great way for you to show your support. Finally, please make sure to subscribe to the Possibility Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, and that way you’ll never miss an episode. Thanks again, and please remember to always welcome uncertainty into your life and embrace new possibilities.

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