Is Creating Change Your Biggest Challenge?
Have you ever been in a place where you wanted to make some changes, but just couldn’t seem to make the first move? We all know change isn’t easy, but it is necessary if we are going to grow and improve our selves and our talents. Just like you have to practice to get better at your craft whether it be music, writing, painting, or something else, when it comes to changing your habits and your life, you have to practice that too. Because, let’s be honest with ourselves here… if it were easy to change, we’d all be healthy, wealthy, fit, and happy.
What makes change so challenging?
There are many reasons change can be challenging for us. It would take a whole book — maybe even several books — to list them all. So here are just a few to get you thinking:
Habits are ingrained in our minds.
The average person has far more habits than they realize. When you wake up and follow your morning routine, that’s habit. When you take the same route to work every day, that’s a habit. When you think the same thoughts today as you did yesterday, that’s a habit too… and sometimes not a very good one. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
The big reason habits are so insidious is that they give us a reason to avoid thinking. They’re done automatically, and it seems that our brains prefer the automatic to having to figure out new things all the time.
You’ve already tried change and it didn’t work.
If you’ve tried to change before and it hasn’t stuck, your inner critic might be telling you that you can’t change so there’s no use in trying. That’s self-sabotage and self-doubt making themselves known. If you don’t fight back, they’ll stop you every time you even think of trying something new.
You’re happy in your comfort zone.
Isn’t it funny how our comfort zone is usually anything but? Especially when we’ve made the decision to change.
Your brain is preoccupied with your survival. It is programmed to resist change, because what you’re doing is allowing you to live. Any change could potentially lead to death. Dramatic thoughts to be sure, but that’s the way the brain works. To paraphrase a familiar saying… if it ain’t broke, why change it?
Change is uncomfortable
You know what you have to do to meet a goal when you set it. But just the thought of doing what you need to do in order to have or be something different makes you feel uncomfortable. Add in all the other reasons we’ve talked about here, and it’s downright miserable just thinking about change, never mind doing something about it.
So does that mean that you can never change? That the rut you’re stuck in right now is where you’ll spend the rest of your life?
Change is possible, when you realize how to make it stick. The main issue that keeps you from achieving the changes you want to make is that you’re most likely trying to change too much, too quickly. Instead, the best way to make change stick is to take baby steps and do small changes. They’re easier to accomplish and easier to maintain.
5 Tips For Creating Change In Your Habits
Prepare your mindset. Expect that change will be challenging. Your odds of success improve if you’re prepared. Have a plan.
Take baby steps. To minimize the discomfort that change creates, only change a little each day or week. For example it’s easier to meditate for two minutes a day and increase that gradually than it is to start with 30 minutes at once. Another good example, especially for those of us who are writers… When you’re in a slump, it’s much easier to write 500 words a day instead of trying to knock out a whole chapter in one sitting. The key is to get in the habit of doing the new behavior each day.
Be patient. Change is like the tortoise – it moves slowly. It can take months to make a change permanent. It’s often quoted that a new habit requires 30 days to instill. That’s not necessarily true. Studies show that it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the habit and the person.
Be willing to change yourself and face the consequences. Changing yourself is scary, because you don’t know what the results will be. Accept that your life will change in some way. Discomfort isn’t always a bad thing.
Expect to relapse. Falling off the wagon is to be expected. Attempt to enhance your approach and keep going. Aim for 90% compliance. That’s all you need. Perfection is an illusion that will only serve to destroy your confidence.
Change requires you to be nice to yourself. There will be no beating yourself up because you can’t change everything all at once! Instead, be understanding with yourself and proud of yourself for choosing the challenge of change. When the urge to beat yourself up, or to completely give up takes hold, visualize how much you could change over a few years if you changed just a tiny amount each week.
Thanks for being here!
What new habits would you like to create? Share in the comments below.