Why Changing for the Better Isn’t as Difficult as It Seems
Hope is not a strategy when it comes to change. Commitment is what is needed to make change happen. Not just a wishy, washy commitment to change that fades in a week. Real change needs real commitment. Dismissing your excuses and “buts” and exchanging them for commitment to the process of change is what is needed to make change happen.
The good news is that your personality and behaviors can be changed, but it is up to you. You can’t change anyone else, but you can change yourself.
Below are the steps needed to create change in your life.
It’s up to you to make that change happen, nobody can do it for you, but you can certainly find help along the way.
⦁ Awareness for the Need to Change
The first step toward change is acknowledging that you have something you need to change. If you don’t think there is something about you that needs to be changed or improved, then you are in denial, because there are not any perfect people in this world.
We are creatures of habit, so look at the patterns that you have in life that are negative. Then look introspectively to see what it is in you that is causing these repeated life problems to occur. Once you recognize the need for change and what it is that needs to be changed, then you can move to the next step.
⦁ Believe that Change is Indeed Possible
There are people out there who believe that personality is unchangeable. It may be who you are, but does it need to be? Change in personality and behaviors are possible. Be proactive about the change you want in your life, including the belief that change can occur.
⦁ List the Benefits in your Life and the Lives of Others for this Change
In order for change to be meaningful you need to buy into the premise that the change is necessary for your betterment. The change needs to happen in your mind and for you to fully desire the benefit of that change in order for your change to be meaningful and long lasting. People who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
One of the best ways to help yourself stick to the commitment of change is to make a list of the benefits that the change will bring in your life. Make one list of the benefits in your life if and when this change happens. Make another list of the benefits that your loved ones will have if you make the change. Recognizing the full spectrum of benefits including how your change will affect those closest to you, will help you stick with the process of change.
When you have moments of weakness, or fail on a particular day or time then getting back on track becomes easier when you review your list on a regular basis. Posting your “benefits of change” list somewhere where you see it often, such as a bathroom mirror, will help you be reminded of why you are doing what you are doing.
⦁ Make a Real Commitment to Change
Commitment means time and energy. If you think you can change by wishing and hoping then you will certainly fail. Be realistic when you dedicate yourself to change. If you think you are going to lose 50 lbs. in a month then you are setting yourself up to fail. Make a commitment to the time frame needed for the change to happen. If you want to lose 50 lbs., then set out a realistic plan of a few lbs. per week and a timeline that reflects those goals.
It will take you a lot longer than a month, but setting realistic goals will help you stick to your commitment. Change happens one day at a time. It is not immediate, but over the course of time because of your dedication and commitment to the process.
When you are making the commitment to change, this is the time that you dispel of your excuses. If you have had “buts” and “what ifs” in the past holding you back it is time to address those head on and not allow them to prevent you from pursuing change. The “buts” are usually the biggest obstacle toward commitment. When times get tough your “but” thinking comes into play. Be prepared to knock down those “buts” and be more committed to the process of change and the end result desired, than to the “buts”.
Be SMART. There is a “SMART” plan when it comes to setting and achieving goals and sticking to your commitment to change. Make your goals:
An example of this would be a person who wants to become an active runner so they can tackle a half marathon. The first step would be to research what other people have done for training plans to achieve this goal. Runners World lays out specifics for a beginner to train for a half marathon: “Target the Long Run: Every other week, increase your long run by 1.5 miles until you’re run/walking 13 to 14 miles. On alternate weeks, keep your long run to no longer than three miles. Your longest long run should fall two weeks before your half-marathon. Plan to take about 15 weeks to prepare for the big day.”
Taking on this SMART tool, let’s break it down:
⦁ S-(Specific). Run every week; make a chart of the miles, according to the Runners World recommendations.
⦁ M- (Measurable). Make the chart specific for the distance you want to accomplish for each run, which makes your goals measurable. Let’s start by writing down at least your first two weeks of running goals to get started. Your first week could entail four days a week of running doing 1.5 miles the first run, 1.5 miles the second, 2.0 the second, and 2.5 the third. Then you move to week two and increase to the 3.0 mile mark. You again set your week up by scheduling four runs into your calendar. The first day you do 3.0 miles, the second 3.0 miles, the third day 4.0 miles, and the fourth 4.5 miles.
⦁ A-(Attainable). You may be concerned about weather getting in the way of you getting all your runs in each week, so you then need to find an indoor track, get a treadmill, or sign up for a gym to use their treadmills.
⦁ R-(Relevant). You aren’t concerned about your workout schedule outside of the running. Your goal is to get to half marathon preparedness, so attending workout classes won’t be on your chart. You stick to charting the runs and dedicating your free time to that goal, not other fitness or diet goals that may impede on your energy level and ability to get your runs completed each week.
⦁ T-(Time Bound). You are setting your plan to 15 weeks, based on the Runners World recommendations. You then find a half marathon that is very near in date to your 15 week completion and sign up. You chart your weekly runs (four per week), increasing your mileage each week by 1.5 miles until you can achieve 13/14 miles.
⦁ Create a Plan of Attack
A goal without a plan is a plan to fail.
You need a set of steps outlined to succeed. This is why 12 step programs are so successful. You can’t just walk into a meeting and say I am cured and changed! You need to mentally process the change in order for the change to be lasting and effective. Create a plan for your change. Be realistic and investigate what other people have done to change. For example, if you are dealing with anxiety and want to change that, then seek out therapy methods to address your problem. Stick with the therapy plan until your change process is complete. Simply hoping the anxiety will someday go away is not a plan.
Research the best ways that change for your issue successfully happen. Investigate what others have done and been truly successful in making it to the other side of permanent change. Use their best practices to set your own plan of attack in addressing your process of change.
⦁ Commitment without action results in failure.
It is wonderful to set a goal for change and to write it down, but if you don’t act then your mental commitment means nothing. There is no actual commitment unless action follows. To best kick start our change the key is to act NOW. Not next week. Not waiting for a time when things are lined up just right, because that time may never come. Start today, as soon as you finish setting your goal for change. Tony Robbins is a self-help guru who explains why many people fail to change:2
A lot of people tend to make “sorta kinda” decisions. Here’s the secret behind why people don’t follow through: The reason people don’t commit to a decision is that they don’t act on it.
Acting now, is the way to show your commitment. Your body must follow the brain’s commitment. For example, if you committed to lose 50lbs then now is the time to go join a gym, hire a trainer, and walk into a weight loss clinic to get support. The important part is doing. We can make up our mind to be determined to change, but if action does not follow soon thereafter, then you will fail.
It is very easy to make a verbal commitment to change or to even write it down. Where the rubber meets the road is when action is taken. Take action once a decision for change is made. Because if you wait until later that day you will get caught up in doing your daily routine, things for works, taking care of others, or whatever it may be; there will be distractions that will derail you from taking action later. There is no better time to take action than when you make the decision to change. Find one way that you can take action to get the ball rolling. Momentum is essential.
For example, if you decide you want to finally write that book that is in your mind, but you don’t have a working laptop, then go and get a laptop today. Then that same day set aside an hour each day after work (and on your calendar) so that you can write. Instead of going out with friends after work, you are committing to achieve this goal and you have time set aside to make that goal happen.
If you want to become a writer, it won’t happen unless you actually write. Waiting until Black Friday for the best computer deal and then perhaps signing up for a writers conference 6 months down the road is not immediate action. Find ways that you can take action today. If you find yourself selecting action items that are in the future, then you really aren’t committed. Real commitment is making a decision for change and then taking immediate action.
⦁ Find a Support System
Psychology Today explains that one of the best ways to change behavior is through therapy and particularly the use of behavior modification therapies.3 If you have a particular behavior or habit that you want to change, increase your odds of success dramatically by partnering with a therapist who specializes in treating your issue or who specializes in behavior modification methods.
A great way to find support is through group therapy or support groups.