You see other people making changes to improve their lives. Whether it is losing weight, eating healthier or perhaps starting to meditate. You wonder what's wrong with you. It seems like you've tried to change a million times. Without success.
What steps can we take to ensure our success in the future?
- Make sure that you really want to make the change and that you aren't doing it to please somebody else. Changing for someone else seldom works.
- Find and nurture the motivation you have to make the change in the first place. This is super important. Keep it in front of you whether it is making a vision board, cutting pictures out of a magazine to put on the fridge or hanging your favorite outfit that you no longer fit into where you can see it every day.
- Visualize yourself as having achieved the change. How does it feel? Imagine yourself as being successful. Act as if.
- Write out your goals and look at them twice a day.
- Plan. Plan. Plan. When are you going to schedule the new activity in? How are you going to do it? What do you need to organize to make it happen?
- Start small with 1 or 2 changes at a time. If it is something like exercise or meditation, restrict yourself to 5 minutes maximum for at least the first week. Be super disciplined about this as with your new enthusiasm you'll want to do more, which can come back to bite you big time.
- Perform the new change daily if you can. When we are making changes in our lives, we are rewiring our brains. Daily repetition fast tracks this process.
- Use a trigger for the new change every time. An example of a trigger is exercising every day as soon as you get up. It can sometimes be a little tricky to find something that we do EVERY day, particularly given that our routine might vary through the week. However this can really make the difference in anchoring that new change in.
- Be aware of negative triggers for unhealthy habits that you want to change. For instance eating an unhealthy high calorie snack as soon as you arrive home from work to reward yourself. Are there ways of using the trigger of arriving home as an anchor for your new healthy habit?
- Change your thoughts. What are you thinking about the change. I really struggled to exercise regularly while I was thinking about how much I hated to exercise. Changing those thoughts to "˜I love to exercise' really made the difference. (Even if it felt like I was lying to myself at first).
- Be willing to do the inner work. Sometimes we have underlying beliefs or barriers that prevent us from moving forward. Be willing to go below the surface and if necessary enlist the help you need in this area.
- Be willing to be uncomfortable. Success means leaving your comfort zone and creating a new, healthier reality.
- Associate with people who have achieved what you want to achieve and copy what they've done.
- Look at what you've done in the past that worked well and implement these strategies again. Often we forget past successes and what we did to achieve them.
- Revisit what didn't go well previously. Is there anything that you can learn from these past efforts that you can use when creating your new habit?
- Be adventurous. Try new things even if you don't think they're going to work. Sometimes you'll be right. At other times you'll be amazed by the results you achieve.
- Associate good feelings and thoughts with the new positive habit and negative feelings and thoughts with the old, unhealthy habit. Using the example of exercise, remind yourself how good you'll feel and how much energy you'll have with regular exercise versus how sluggish and unfit you'll feel on the couch.
- Look at failure differently. View it as valuable information that enables you to course correct. It really is all about trial and error.
- Make it harder to persist with old, unhealthy habits. For example removing unhealthy, high calorie snacks from the house.
- Make it easier to make healthier choices. Have healthy food readily available, or perhaps move the exercise equipment that has been languishing under the bed or is covered with clothes to a spot that's more convenient for you.
- Set up your support team. Surround yourself with people who support you with your change. Perhaps enlist a friend to exercise with or participate in an online forum.
- Record your progress. In one study, participants who used a food diary lost up to twice as much weight as other participants. I know it is a pain but this stuff really works. It's hard to assess your progress if you don't document it.
- Set up some accountability. Your exercise buddy can help keep you accountable or perhaps you could set up an accountability partner who you contact once a week to see how you're going and set some goals for the forthcoming week. There are also a number of online apps that will do this.
- Minimize the influence of saboteurs. It might be your nearest and dearest. They often mean well and may not realize the negative impact they are having. Can you let them know in a gentle, loving way how they can support you?
- Enjoy the journey. This is your life. It doesn't begin at some magical point in the future when you've achieved your goal. Cherish every day of this beautiful life.
- Be kind to yourself. Be your own cheerleader.
What have I missed? I'd love to hear what's worked for you in making changes in your life. Let me know in the comments below.