Let’s talk about change. Most of us have had the desire to change something at one time or another. In fact, you could argue that we are constantly changing in small ways. It could be some subtle like growing your hair out or maybe something big like a change in career or starting a family. Often we choose to change but other times life hits us right smack in the forehead and says, “you must change now!” and we have no real say in the matter. Maybe it’s a decline in your health or you lose your job. Those types of life changes remind me of when my little brother would watch wrestling in the middle of the night and decide that he needed to try the moves the next day. He’d come running at me (of course, I’d have no where to go) and I’d suddenly feel the painful blow of his little body pressing me to the ground, knocking the breath out of me. Change is painful. Even when we are face to face with change it can be a struggle.
Change is a struggle against your former self and the person on the other side who is begging for a chance to shine.
So how do we create change in our every day life when there is no urgency to do so?
It starts with motivation, right? Maybe you are so sick of carrying around extra weight. Maybe you’ve been unhappy with it for some time and suddenly you’ve had enough. Sometimes there are external motivations. You want to look better for your mate or your doctor mentioned you should lose a few pounds to improve your biometrics. Either way, you decide to start exercising and follow a diet plan. It’s going great, you feel better and you’re even losing a few pounds. Then the next week your co worker brings in a huge box of “To Die For” pastries and you help yourself to more than a couple. You are feeling bad, frustrated, and suddenly staying on your diet and exercise plan doesn’t seem so appealing. “It’s not working” you say or “I’ll try again next week”. Next week turns into never until you’ve had enough and the cycle repeats. What happened? Didn’t you want it bad enough?
Well, first of all you’re human, thankfully and it’s inevitable to run into road blocks. Be gentle and kind to yourself and remember that most changes don’t happen over night, it takes time. So let’s get to the heart of change.
Recognizing what is making you unhappy or preventing you from living the life you want is the first key to changing it. Identify and name it. Write it down if you have to or share it with a trusted companion. Don’t stop there! Ask yourself: What do I want to change and what would this change do for me? In other words, you need to know the why. Why do you want to change? How would your life be different if you changed? Doing this will give you a clearer picture of what you want to accomplish.
Now the hard part, doing it and sticking to it. Here are three ways to build a new habit.
1. Break it down. Trying to change several things at once isn’t always a great idea and can lead to instant frustration. When I was a kid, I remember making stepping stones out of cement and decorating them with colored rocks. I like to think of building habits in this way. Build one step at a time, put your own unique imprint on each step, and make another until you create your own path. Keeping with the example from earlier let’s say you want to lose weight. Perhaps you find you eat late at night while watching TV. Set a goal to eliminate eating after 8pm on the weekdays and build from there. I recommend working towards any goal for at least 3-4 weeks before adding something new.
2. Change what you do. After breaking it down (dancing or otherwise), you want to support your habits but changing the behaviors surrounding it. To stop eating late at night maybe you need to stop watching hours of TV in the evening. Try going to bed earlier (Who isn’t sleep deprived? Regular, consistent sleep can also help you lose weight.) or busy yourself with a book, crafts, or a bath. Change what you do to promote your new habit.
3. Believe in yourself. It’s not easy to change but believing you can will make a huge difference in your success. Let go of past failures and keep looking forward. Believe that you are going to make the best choices you need to design your best life. Visualize it, verbalize it, and when things get tough dig a little deeper and remind yourself of your reasons. You are stronger than the struggle.
And one more thing…
4. Are you fighting for change? Do the benefits of what you want to change outweigh the negative aspects? Sometimes you have to fight for what you want and not give up when things get sticky. Change is hard because it’s painful (not unlike being tackled to the floor). It requires living outside your comfort zone to create new pathways and new beginnings. It’s unfamiliar and scary but totally worth it. You are totally worth it!
“Change before you have to.” -Jack Welch
P.S. The best way to avoid a wrestler take down? Remain calm, side step out of the way, or “turtle” down-huddle down and use your arms to protect your head. Then later wrap a rubber band around the handle of the kitchen sink sprayer and enjoy the show when they turn on the water.
How have your created change in your life?
Share your story with me.