I recently went to a presentation on personal growth, in which a couple of concepts stood out to me. The first concept, which will be addressed in this blogpost, was on change. When we find ourselves doing the same thing, stuck in a rut and habitual to a degree, this does not implement change. That seems like common sense, but how many of you are finding yourself in that situation yet really desiring a change to happen? What does implement change is doing things, therefore taking conscious actions, which may make you slightly uncomfortable and put you out of your comfort zone. I once had a client tell me that if you’re not taking risks, you’re not growing, and that has always stuck with me. A risk doesn’t have to be something monumental, but a risk can be something as simple as doing something outside of your typical routine.
Why is it so hard to change from our routines? It’s because our routines become our habits. I’ve heard before that it can take about 30 days to change a habit. Taking risks and making changes requires thought, planning, and determination. Think about the times you’ve told yourself you want to eat better, exercise more, or save money, which are typical resolutions for the new year. You may have been determined, but any changes you made may have only lasted a week or two. Why? Because you did not do it long enough for it to become a habit.
Here are some ideas on how to start the change process:
1. Start with something easy. Can you get up 15 minutes earlier every day to eat breakfast? Can you eat 1 piece of fruit 3 times per week in an effort towards healthy eating? How about taking a walk around the block during your lunch hour.
2. Once you’ve noticed you’re capable of creating change in yourself based on successes from #1, step it up to something more challenging that’s related to your goal. Can you eat a piece of fruit daily rather than just 3 times per week? Can you write down an inspirational thought each day? Can you get up 30 minutes earlier each day and meditate? Can you exercise for 30 minutes instead of 15 minutes? Can you keep a daily spending log?
3. Visualize where you are now and where you want to be. What will be different when you meet your goal? How will you be feeling and acting? Really visualize this potential change. I’ll use myself as an example here. Right now, I work part-time in a group private practice and have a separate full-time job. However, my goal is to work full-time in a private practice to be doing what I love and to have the flexibility and work/life balance that I desire. I envision myself feeling happier, fulfilled, more care-free, relaxed, less stressed, and more balanced. I envision myself having more time to do other things I would love to do but simply don’t have time to do now, such as taking a Spanish class, attending trainings and consultation groups, and devoting more time to my family. It can even be an actual picture, such as a picture of a vacation spot you’d like to go to or an outfit you’d like to fit into. Visualization of what will be different is a huge motivator and a reminder of what you’re working towards.
4. Play it SMART. The smaller steps towards reaching your goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Otherwise, it’s too easy to become overwhelmed and put yourself at risk of giving up during the process. You need to see and feel those small successes with each step to keep the momentum going.
5. Remember, if you’re not taking risks towards change, you’re not growing. Taking risks and putting yourself outside of your comfort zone is uncomfortable. But, are you happy with where things stand now? Or, do you want something different for yourself? You may feel uncomfortable or anxious in the beginning of the change process, but think how exhilirated you will feel once you’ve reached your goal.
I love the saying that you are the author in your life story. Some things we have no control over changing, only our outlook or attitude on the matter. These are the most frustrating things, but once we have come to terms with this rather than fighting it, change can happen. Other things we do have the power and control over changing. We can choose to eat better, watch our spending, leave an unhappy job, end toxic relationships, etc. Change can feel risky and outside of your comfort zone, but if you visualize yourself feeling happier in the end, what do you have to lose? As you think of the life you desire and changes you want for yourself, what will the next chapter in your life story hold for you?