Change is not simple. Otherwise, why would we repeat behavior that doesn’t work—especially those actions that lead to stifling debt, disappointing careers, or stuck relationships? (And then do it harder—yet expect a different result!)

Why is it not obvious to us that trying to exit an old story by simply writing a better ending only recreates the same story over again and ensures that we remain in it? That a thousand better endings to an old story don’t create a new story? That the past cannot be changed and is a settled matter? That too often, we see ourselves as the victims of the stories that we author and the feelings we create?

Sometimes we become able to engage something for the first time only through our efforts to deny it. Here are 18 time-honored, proven strategies for avoiding change; perhaps one or more of these will ring the bell of familiarity.

1. Focus on the system.
Devote special attention to the things that seem frustrating, out of your control, and impossible to address: politics, corporations, and economics. Systems must remain in focus as broad categories in order to feel distanced and disaffected.

2. Maintain a focus on theory.
Avoid detail, singular aspects, and application. Remain theoretical about how to transform various systems, about what needs to be done, maintaining the frustration of what seems to continue out of your control.

3. Be oppositional.
Believe that the answer will appear when you step out of the box, or when you simply oppose the system.

4. Keep the point of reference external.
Keep believing that the antithesis of conformity is opposition; know that one or the other of these external points of reference—conformity or opposition—holds the real truth.

5. Do not decide.
Allow the urgency of a situation to decide for you. The gravity of a last-minute emergency forces action and avoids planning. Waiting for the deadline excuses responsibility for thoroughness and excellence.

6. Retreat to the rulebook.
Maintain a steadfast belief that the answer is more rules and further structure.

7. Debate the obvious.
And give energy to the controversial.

8. Believe in experts unequivocally.
Believe their expertise is authoritative. Dismiss any notion that expertise is perceived, processed and filtered through the assumptions, belief systems and prejudices of experts.

9. Avoid seeking your own information.
Refrain from developing your own solutions when you have experts to listen to. Rather, find someone to provide a map for you and avoid anyone who wants to help you develop your own guidance system to navigate.

10. Stay logical.
Always find some cause-and-effect relationship to explain things otherwise not understandable. Maintain a consistent external focus to blame someone, or find some tangible explanation that offers a specific, concrete focus on what is wrong. (Warning: Much work is required to maintain this caveat, as you must be certain that the obstacle can never be totally removed, or its causal effect would have to be confronted as inaccurate. The perceived cause must always be just beyond reach and remedy in order to remain as blame.)

11. Second verse, same as the first.
Keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome. If the outcome doesn’t change for the better, then do the same thing harder.

12. Be suspicious of new ideas…
The old ideas are hard enough to keep track of, right?

13. …And squelch them.
New ideas, being perturbators of the existing system, must be curbed or silenced.

14. Meticulously guard against mistakes.
The best way to be sure to avoid mistakes is to keep doing the same thing again and again, with perfection as the goal.

15. Maintain a focus on failure.
Give failure the proper respect, even fear, so that it remains ever in focus with its guiding principle of avoidance.

16. Beware new strategies.
Be extremely wary of new approaches and solutions, and invest instead in enforcement of the existing approach.

17. Focus on mistakes.
When you make mistakes, keep your attention on them and on your efforts to get them right.

18. Hold onto prejudices.
Hang onto those prejudices, because they are markers of emotional land mines.

As you can see, change is difficult.

In fact, the only thing harder than change is trying not to change.

DAVID KRUEGER, M.D. is CEO of MentorPath, an executive coaching
practice tailored to the needs of coaches, entrepreneurs, and healing professionals
( He is Mentor and Training Coach at Coach Training Alliance.
He is author of 11 books on success, money, work, and self-development.
This article is excerpted from Dr. Krueger’s 12th book, soon to be published,
Live a New Life Story: The Essentials of Change, Reinvention and Personal Success.