Taking Charge of Your Life
When we have lived with habits and certain ways of being for a long time it is very easy to get comfortable with problem behaviour or ways of thinking. It is also easy not to even notice the things that we are unhappy with and that may need to change. Often it takes something to take us out of our comfort zone to make us realize that something must change. For many people it is a health scare (a heart attack) that causes a permanent and serious change in lifestyle for example; or for others it is a break-up, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or any experience that leaves us starved of feelings of happiness.
Identify your opportunities for change
When things are really down and out, and you are starting to crave more, or crave a change, or you’ve hit rock bottom and there is no where to go but up. Stop and say, THANK YOU!!! The first step in making a change is to be able to identify when it’s YOUR time, or YOUR opportunity to make a change. So, when you start to get that feeling that things aren’t working and something must change, its time to slow down and become a good observer of yourself. Really think about what is not going well, and identify what needs to change. Then, take the opportunity as something YOU must change, don’t wait for someone else to change or for someone to change you! The actually change must be YOUR responsibility.
Tip-The best question to ask yourself when beginning a change: What do I want INSTEAD? We are really great at knowing or talking about what is NOT working, but try to spend most of your time envisioning what you want things to look like instead.
Work in Sprints!
Allow for focused and “free” time. People aren’t meant to go, go, go until they run out of fuel. We’re designed to be more productive if we take breaks throughout the day. We are more successful if we work intensely with no interruptions for about 90 min at a time. After 90 minutes its best to take a break for at least a few minutes – go grab a coffee or even just take a short walk and stretch your legs if you’re at the computer most of the time. You will feel like you have more control over things in your life and feel physically recharged if you take a moment to breathe and relax the mind.
Almost nothing requires energy MORE than change! Because we cannot change anything unless we change the way we THINK, it is important to feed your brain and body with the energy required to change one’s thinking! When we are sleep deprived we go into crisis mode and we are more likely to revert to old patterns as our brains and bodies are much too tired to exert the energy required in making a change. Also, it is important NOT to change more than one thing at a time! This also can also serve to overwhelm us and make us feel that we don’t have the energy to put into change. So, don’t try to read more, floss more, or tell the truth more…all at the same time! Pick one at a time to give yourself more of an opportunity to succeed.
Surround yourself with THE CHANGE you want.
When you are in the process of change it is important to surround yourself with those who support your change, have wisdom about how to accomplish your goal or have accomplished it themselves, or to find a mentor who is willing to offer guidance.
If you are trying to become more comfortable with exotic travel for instance, then be sure to surround yourself with those who have traveled to exotic destinations; if you are trying to read more, than join a book club with others who enjoy reading; if you are trying to exercise more than find some folks who make fitness a part of their lives and try to join them, or find out how they manage to fit exercise into their busy schedule.
Try to reduce contact with those folks who encourage a habit you are trying to change. If you are trying to drink less, don’t go out with those who like to get drunk each night!
Tip- Watching or Reading biographies of those who have made significant change in their lives is both inspiring and instructional. Also, tell folks of your intention to change. Research on change consistently shows that those who have support from others are much more likely to succeed than those who get their intentions for change privately.
Move towards the new
It is important that we don’t think only in terms of REDUCTION of an old habit, but that we do more of something positive instead. So, if we want to watch less TV because it makes us feel depressed or have the “blahs” then don’t just focus on reducing your TV time, but think more about what you love and makes you feel energized that you can do MORE of to take place of the TV time. When we only reduce or move away from those things we don’t want, we begin to feel deprived, we get self protective, and we can feel unmotivated. So, don’t just try to stop yelling at your partner, try to thank him or her and express the things for which you are grateful about them. This will naturally make you feel less like yelling and will reduce the time you have in your day to yell at them anyhow!
Get comfy with discomfort
So many of us resist change to avoid feeling uncomfortable or out of fear of the discomfort that comes with failing. What happens is we end up trying to avoid discomfort completely and we go looking for magic pills or any distraction that will allow us not to have to do the real work. Remember nothing great comes without real work and no change can be made without growing and stepping out of your comfort zone. If we avoid discomfort, we don’t grow and if we don’t grow we aren’t really LIVING. Research shows that most often those who are the most successful at changing, are those who have already tried several things that didn’t work!