Be honest now, how many times have you vowed to start making changes in your life but never followed it through? How many excuses have you made to yourself not to do something rather than finding the ways to do it?
Real life getting in the way? Busy week with the kids? Partner’s away with work? School holidays? If you’d had a penny for every time you’d promised yourself that this week was the week to start an exercise class, look for a new job, go on a diet, learn a new language, paint your hallway or meditate, how rich would you be?
Change Is Good, Isn’t it?
Positive change, absolutely. Negative change, not so much. The thing is, it’s natural to resist change. The status quo is working just fine, isn’t it? What’s the rush to change what you’re happy with?
But you’re not happy, are you? At least not completely. Over time we train our brains to act and react in a certain way and we get stuck in a rut. The things we do every day become ingrained into our circuitry and by repeating such behaviours, our brains carve out neural pathways, like the mental equivalent of muscle memory.
Those neural pathways allow our behaviours to become second nature. You go through your morning routine even though there’s most likely a quicker way of doing it. You take the same route to work even though there’s most likely a quicker way of getting there. You buy the same products at the supermarket even though there are most likely cheaper equivalents available. And the list goes on…
However, by going through the same process you went through training your brain into doing old, tired habits that negatively affect your life, you can re-wire your brain to create new habits that will positively affect your life.
By applying the methods you subconsciously already know how to do, you can begin to recreate your life, one new and positive change after the other.
Here’s How To Make Positive Changes In Your Life
But wait, there’s a caveat.
You didn’t just wake up one day with negativity in your life. You didn’t realise after breakfast that you were mega-stressed. You didn’t get home after work one day to realise that your life has turned into the equivalent of running up a never-ending sand dune in high heels. These things gradually envelope us, often glacially-slowly and for some the need to bring about change is a thought that takes years to manifest. For others there’s a ‘eureka’ moment where the need to change becomes urgent.
The point is, you have to want to change. You have to want to make a commitment, and if you’re interested in any or all of the following…
- Increased earning potential
- A more positive outlook on life
- Putting yourself at the top of the ‘what’s important’ list
- Lasting feelings of happiness and confidence
…here are the ways you can do it.
- The Journey Of A Thousand Miles Starts With A Single Step
A new fitness regime rarely starts with a 20-mile run. It starts with putting on your new trainers and going for a walk round the block to get used to them. The next day you might go twice around.
Break down each positive change you want to make into small, achievable goals that make it easy for you to accomplish and then next time, do a little more. Then a little more. Soon enough you’ll build up to a point that you’re confident about going out for that 20-miler and next thing you know you’ll be training for the marathon!
- Play It Cool, Trigger
Oddly, this is where your old habits can help you and there are two ways to go here. If you want to replace a negative habit – like smoking – for a positive habit – like healthy eating, every time you would usually reach for a cigarette, that’s the trigger to remind you to instead go for a 10-minute walk around the block or to eat a tangerine.
The second trigger is to use something you do every day. If you want to meditate, do it immediately after you brush your teeth in the morning. By attaching new behaviours to existing habits, it makes it far easier for your brain to integrate the new behaviour.
- Points Mean Prizes
If gold stars are good enough for your kids, they’re good enough for you but obviously, the rewards are different! Every time you complete an element of your new positive habit, give yourself a gold star and when you’ve got 10, treat yourself to whatever you fancy.
You’ll be surprised how quickly they build up and knowing there’s a carrot at the end of the stick, it will make you even more determined to succeed.
- Someone’s Watching You…
If you’re accountable for what you’re doing and you know other people are watching you, you’re more likely to follow it though for fear of embarrassment or letting someone down.
Tell a friend, your partner or your kids or even announce it to the world on Facebook or Twitter but if you’re accountable to others you have a real incentive to succeed.
- The Best Laid Plans Of Mice & Men…
As we all know only too well, real life has an annoying habit of getting in the way and if you miss a day or a class or whatever your new habit is, don’t use it as an excuse to quit. Pick it back up as soon as you can.
It’s sound advice to factor in the odd disruption – and you can even formulate an alternative plan – so it won’t be so much of a shock when it actually happens.
- Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day
In other words, be patient. Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, it can take between one and four months for it to become automatic. Don’t rush it and don’t get impatient when in the early stages it still feels hard or frustrating.
Stick with it and you will reap the rewards. Keep referring back to the first point where we told you to start with small daily actions, increasing the frequency at constant stages. Slowly slowly catchy monkey wins the race.
If your life is perfect in every way, thanks for reading this far but this article really isn’t for you. If it just seems perfect, this article is for you.
We’ve all got something in our lives we’d like to change, a bad habit (or habits) we’d like to remove from our lives or a good habit we’d like to include in our lives so go ahead, pick one! Say it out loud…
I’D LIKE TO ____________________________.
Whether it’s at work or in your personal life or just something you’d like to do, the only barrier in the way is you.
To talk to us about the benefits of lasting, positive change, contact us today.
Jules Peck is an award winning management consultant, Exec Coach and keynote speaker. Contact her or the team at Vital Minds Business Training on +44 7931 325 642 or firstname.lastname@example.org