Why change is necessary

PIXABAY/CC0

PIXABAY/CC0

It's that time of year again, at least it is where I live. School is starting back up and for many of us that means changing into a new routine. Whether that's starting school again or figuring out how to get the kids to school and then ourselves on to work in time. Maybe it's not a special time of year for you, but you are trying to make some changes anyway; a new diet or exercise routine, a new hobby or trying to restart an old one, or maybe you just want to feel different - not as angry or sad or whatever. But no matter what it is that you are thinking about right now, odds are that you want to make some kind of change in your life. But it can seem a bit tough sometimes.

When change is hard

When isn't change hard, am I right? Change, by its very nature, is not easy. Even in the best of circumstances the shifting needed to adjust the world - in big ways or small ones - takes effort and is often uncomfortable. But that doesn't mean it's not worth it. Once you decide the thing you want to change, or the habit you want to stop or adopt, prepare yourself for the  reality that change is sometimes hard but always uncomfortable in some way or another. But for most changes, things are simply uncomfortable, like an itchy sweater or the feeling of breaking in new hiking boots. It's not great, but not a dealbreaker. But just like the itchy sweater, we sometimes take it off before we even have a chance to get used to it.


Why change fails

Change fails for a few reasons. Maybe you didn't meet the goals you set out for yourself and feeling defeated decided to quit. Perhaps you made some good progress for a bit, but then you fell back into old patterns and just threw in the towel. Whatever it is, it likely includes some variation on the previous. We as a species thrive on routine and pattern and habit. This reliance on routine and pattern is why it is sometimes so hard to get up early. Now I hear what you're saying, "but getting up early is hard because I'm tired not because change is hard." That is partly true, but the reason you are tired is that this waking up time is different than normal for you. If you got up every day at 6:00am it wouldn't be so hard. But if you normally wake up at 7:00am, an hour shift earlier (without changing anything else) is quite a pain, sure. It's all about the getting used to new and different things. This is part of how to really make some changes in your life.

How change happens

To really make some of the changes you want stick, you need to start over in your thinking about just how change happens. Change, real and lasting change, isn't something that happens in an instant, it takes time and effort. It's not about taking big steps, even small steps in the right direction will get you there eventually. 
Start small. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is that their desire for change outpaces their ability to do it. People want to become whole new versions of themselves and they want it to happen yesterday. This isn't realistic and only sets you up for failure; so start small. Set an easy and achievable goal that's part of your plan. If you want to run a marathon, you're first goal shouldn't be to set a new personal record for your mile time - maybe start with taking a 10 minute walk.
Reward progress. Once you complete your goal, give yourself a bit of a reward. Nothing too big, make your rewards comparable to your effort. For your walk around the block maybe you treat yourself to a coffee from that trendy new chain.
Bigger goals and then bigger rewards. Now that you've started this journey, keep it up by picking a new and slightly more ambitious goal. Next time try for 30 minutes walking instead of 10.
Plan for failure. No one is perfect, don't expect this of yourself. If you don't factor in the times that you won't make that goal in the time you wanted, you will inevitably find yourself disappointed. BUT, if failure is part of the plan, then even when you "fail" you are still on track. Don't plan to walk everyday, only 3-4, that way if you do more you feel great and when you have to take a day or two off, you can still make the original goal.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Like I said before, it doesn't take giant leaps, just small steps in the right direction and you'll eventually get there.

If you want to talk more about your goals and how to make them happen, I'd be happy to listen and help. 512-931-4801

Check out this infographic for an overview of how to make changes that last.

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