Yes, You CAN Make an Instant Change

When I start working with a new client, I’ll always ask about her goals.

This is the fun part—she can go on and on about her dreams for her career, how she wants to feel, where she wants to go, and what she wants to do with her life.

Then I’ll ask about timelines. As in, when do you want to achieve this big goal? In 3 months? By the end of the year?

Most clients will give me a realistic time frame, maybe even push themselves to complete whatever it is a week or two sooner than they originally planned.

But sometimes…sometimes…a client will get very quiet, and she won’t have an answer for me.

“Yesterday?” I’ll offer.

“Yes!” And she’ll sigh as if a huge weight has been lifted off her shoulders. She’s all in.

It’s time for an instant change.

An instant change is just what it sounds like. You’re through messing around, and you want this thing changed, improved, or gone…well, yesterday.

I’ve been on a book binge lately reading titles that focus on instant change including:

Instant change is the “sexy” kind of self-improvement. Who wouldn’t want to improve their lives right away instead of waiting weeks or months to see results?

As a coach, I know the value of taking your time and gradually making consistent progress. But sometimes enough is enough! Instant change might not be common, but it is possible under the right circumstances.

Here’s how you can make an instant change.

Make the choice to go no further.

Most people wait until they hit “rock bottom” before they make a change. When you’ve sunk lower than you’ve ever gone, then there’s no place to go but up, right?

I hate the idea of waiting until you’ve hit rock bottom to make a change because you’re often damaging your body, mind, relationships, professional reputation, and more in ways that aren’t always salvageable.

Let’s say you want to lose weight. Are you going to wait until you have 100 pounds to lose? 200?

If you hate your job, are you going to treat your customers and coworkers horribly? Slack off until you get fired?

Why not start now instead of going to that dark place?

To create an instant change, you must make the choice to go no further.

This is your rock bottom. Right here. Right now.

It doesn’t matter if you or the people around you don’t think your situation is that bad. The point is that you’re unhappy now and you want a change. Choose to go no further. End it now.

Do you want to change enough to stop heading down the destructive path you’re on?

Believe in the change more than anything else.

In my opinion, change is 20% action and 80% mindset. You can achieve anything if you have unwavering faith in the change and yourself.

I became a vegetarian (and later a vegan) instantly, and I’ve stuck with it because I altered my mindset to make this my most deeply held belief. There is nothing I care about more. Not my spirituality, not my business, not my relationships (including my marriage).

Let’s have that sink in for a minute. An instant change will take an incredible amount of your mental resources.

Are you willing to prioritize this change above everything else in your life?

Going back to the weight loss example, you must believe in losing weight and getting healthy more than you want to sit on the couch, even when you’re tired or sore.

And if you want a new job, you must believe that you are worth more than whatever issues you’re dealing with at your current job, even if the pay is good and you’re comfortable in your routine.

Can you put your desire for change above all the other distractions in your life?

Delete all triggers and limiting beliefs.

As a coach, I often tell my clients to “fake it ‘til you make it,” meaning to act like the person you want to be and eventually you’ll get there.

That’s good advice for gradual change, but instant change requires a more deliberate tactic. You must delete any negative triggers and limiting beliefs—you guessed it—instantly.

There’s no flip flopping or being wishy washy when it comes to instant change.

I compare this to Gretchen Rubin’s theory about abstainers and moderators. An abstainer completely cuts out things or behaviors that don’t support how she wants to live. A moderator is OK with doing a little bit of the bad behavior, but she knows not to go overboard.

A person who experiences instant change is an abstainer—there’s no going back.

So, a person trying to lose weight will remove all the junk food and other triggers in her house and go for a run that same day. And a person seeking a new job will submit 3 (or more!) job applications every day.

They instantly take on the personality traits and mindsets of a person who has already made the change.

This means deleting all self-doubt, limiting beliefs, and uncertainty about who you are. No more putting yourself down or feeling sorry for yourself and your situation.

Are you able to arrange your environment and mindset to fully support your change?

So, should you make an instant change?

Reading over what I just wrote, making an instant change seems enticing. You just (1) stop what you’re doing, (2) believe in the change, and (3) rearrange your life and thoughts to support it.

Buuuut…as with many things, this falls under the category of “things that are easier said than done.”

An instant change might not seem that complicated, but it’s not an instant change if you don’t stick with it. Then it gets lumped with all the other failed attempts at improving yourself.

My advice: choose to make an instant change only when it REALLY, TRULY, HONESTLY matters. You have limited energy, and an instant change will take a ton of it.

Do you need to lose 20 pounds in a month…or do you just want to?

Do you need to quit your job tomorrow…or do you just want to?

Slow and steady is a great approach, and it’s the one I choose 9 out of 10 times. But an instant change is a huge confidence booster, and you might be surprised by what you’re capable of.

This post focuses on Step 2 of the Life Editing Process, Delete Bad Influences. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.

3 Simple Steps to Become a Productivity Superstar

Dump your excuses, transform your habits, and become the most productive person you know.


  1. Katherine on August 12, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    This year my husband and I have made several instant changes together!

    To start, one February day we stopped adding sugar / honey to our tea. This sounds like such a tiny commitment but it added up really fast since we usually have around 5 cups a day. Per person. It was a whole month of terrible tea-drinking and then we hardly noticed anymore : ) There’s been a bonus effect of less appetite for sugar all around: no adding brown sugar to oatmeal, no adding sweeteners when baking or to homemade salad dressings. The tea was the catalyst and it just took off from there!

    We also started eating lots and lots and lots of veggies. Tons of them. This was not a gradual change- it was instant. We signed up for a community-supported agriculture box and bam!, each week 1-2 giant bags of produce show up. What to do but eat through them? It was a bit of a financial commitment up front, but it’s evened out in the end since we’re a) not going to the store to shop for veggies and b) not buying sweets.

    I love your advice, Sage: make the choice to go no further, believe in the change, and delete triggers 🙂 Those are all things I’ve done this year but to be honest, one thing that can result in instant change is being diagnosed with an illness. I wasn’t ready for change until that moment and then- ready x10000!! In some cases there’s no time for slow and steady change, you just have to commit.

  2. Sarah @ Long Island Nerd on April 22, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Great advice Sage! I have to agree that instant change is so enticing but also admit that I tend to fall into the easier said than done mindset. I tend to be a slow and steady girl and have recently had to prioritize my now lengthy list of goals that I have for this spring. Since some of them depend on one instant change I’ve needed to do for a long time I’ve made that my immediate goal and have been working on it full throttle 😉 The “believe” portion seemed to be the hardest part for me to get over but I finally believe in this change and more importantly that I’m capable and that I DESERVE IT!

    • Sage Grayson on April 23, 2014 at 10:56 am

      I completely agree. Believing in the change with all your heart is the hardest part. But good for you for choosing to make the change! It doesn’t matter that you’ve been meaning to do it for a long time–what matters is that you’re taking action now. I have to be really picky about what I devote my energy too, so most of the time I work on gradual changes.

  3. Ashley Urke | Domestic Fashionista on April 22, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I like the point you make about choosing to not go any further. It is always so easy to think I need to do more when in fact stopping something can be just as big of a change.

    • Sage Grayson on April 23, 2014 at 10:59 am

      Absolutely! I’ve often found that stopping in my tracks is the best thing I can do for myself.

  4. Marie-France on April 22, 2014 at 4:06 am

    Thank you so much for this post, Sage! I know that I have been doing a lot of work and I wouldn’t have accomplished half of what I have without your support. Now I am thinking that I need to make some instant changes that will bring me closer to my goal of leaving the corporate world much more quickly. It’s time and I am totally ready!!

    • Sage Grayson on April 22, 2014 at 9:45 am

      You’re so welcome, Marie-France! I love working with you too.

      Steven Pressfield writes about amateurs and professionals. The moment you embrace the idea that you’re a professional and act accordingly, everything changes. It did for me! 🙂 What instant changes would help you leave your corporate job sooner?