Only change is constant in life, nothing else is permanent – however, this may be true for all other changes that happens on its own except the ones that you want. To bring the desired changes in life almost always turns out to be like a mission impossible, isn’t it?
How many times do you feel one of these or all of them?
- I’m tired of having no control on my money spending habit and buying things that I don’t really need or won’t use after purchase. I need to save more, spend less.
- I’m sick of eating unhealthy food and I hate the shape of my body. I want to incorporate exercise in my daily routine, but not able to practice it consistently.
- I want to quit smoking but it brings a lot of discomfort and a pain of withdrawal that it becomes easy to give up on my resolution.
- I want to be a published author this year, and want to develop a daily writing habit for that; however, writing is the only thing that I will procrastinate on a daily basis.
- I want to grow to be a more compassionate, loving and caring individual, less judgemental, but most of the time people and their actions piss me off!
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Almost all of us have experienced this.
If you want to bring a new behavioral change, for example, getting less angry, or want to quit smoking or let’s say you want to develop a new skill etc., all these and other positive changes are not easy to happen even if you’re desperate for them.
Initially, this process of change throws a lot of challenges, failures, and discomforts that most of us would feel it safe and easy to give up.
The changes fail us and frustrate us. That is why we hate any change or at least we resist the change.
Because we’re hardwired to feel safe in our comfort zone no matter how unhealthy that zone is for our physical, mental, material and spiritual well-being! The ultimate wish is always to be comfortable.
But still we are desperate in wanting changes, not just one but many positive changes in our attitude and actions so that we can enjoy living the life of our dreams. Yes or yes?
Is there any doable action strategy that helps this change process to be smooth and interesting?
Well, the answer is yes, there is a way to deal with this, but to make it smooth and interesting you have to trick your mind while playing this game.
All these behavioral changes require more than a will power. In fact, a solid action strategy that can make this whole game more enjoyable and less stressful.
Here are my two cents, on how to make the change process easy and interesting. There are five rules that if you master and implement during your change process, it will save you from a nightmare.
Change the Environment
We’re good at wishing all changes that we want in life, we’re also incredibly good at making resolutions after resolutions, sometimes the same resolution multiple times. But only making resolutions and not creating a nurturing environment is the number one reason why our dreams and desires die prematurely.
How to create an environment that helps the change process?
For example if you want to write a book, try following things to create an environment that helps, such as…
- Set up a writing desk.
- Set-up a fixed time where you will not be disturbed by your family, phone, social media and internet for at least an hour.
- Force yourself to sit on a chair every day for one hour, no matter what you feel, or even if you don’t write a word. Just sit there and honor that one hour of time for writing. Eventually ideas and words will come in your mind.
- All the time keep your eyes and ears open to what you see, read, listen or speak and look for the topics, special phrases, words or ideas that can be a possible subject of your writing.
- Practice writing techniques such as mind map, writing outline for your topic or book etc.
- Take any book and go to a random page and pick any paragraph and read it, understand it, pay attention to the sentence structure and words used to convey the sense. Now re-write that same paragraph in your own words using your own style to convey the same idea more effectively. – Phew, you just learned to overcome your writer’s block. Congratulations!
Once you will force yourself to be in this environment, you will unconsciously learn new things and adopt new changes. If you live this one hour honestly and fully, you will feel amazing.
The way fertilizers help to grow a plant, the right environment fosters and nourishes the desired change.
Oftentimes, we want big changes in life and that too faster.
Things do not happen overnight, they happen in stages. This is hard core fact. Period. So what’s the clue here in this bitter fact? The clue is Start small, apply divide and rule technique and take a baby steps.
Divide your whole project into a number of small tasks that are impossible to fail at, easy to take daily actions on. There are other benefits too, such as…
- You will always think that it is possible and doable.
- You will feel less overwhelmed and become more comfortable and confident with each session of your practice.
- You will not feel the rush and will always have a time to learn, adjust, change and grow bigger and better.
- Most importantly you won’t burn out of your willpower and enthusiasm.
Remember, a 1000 miles journey also starts with a first small step.
Focus On One Thing at a Time
We want well-built and healthy body, a lot of money, a great life partner and a big influence on the world – all at once.
Nothing wrong for wanting more than one thing from a life, however, remember the key to fulfill your desire is to focusing on one thing at a time.
When you focus on one thing you give that one thing your 100% attention, energy and effort, which help you to achieve that one thing faster.
Scattered rays of the sun can only give warmth and not the fire. If you want the fire, you need a burning glass (convex lens) that can concentrate the sun rays onto a small area, heating up to an extent that it results in ignition of the exposed surface. This is called an intense intensity of power.
When you start doing many things, you divide your attention, energy and efforts across all of those things, thus your attention, energy and efforts become less powerful and hence less impactful as well. The half-hearted efforts do not produce great and meaningful results either.
Give your whole heart to one thing at a time. Focus on one to achieve that one.
Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
We all have some sort of addictions.
- Some people are addicted to alcohol or cigarette.
- Some people are addicted to anger or negative and self-destructive thinking.
- Some people are addicted to talk more and listen less.
And now you want to quit your bad habit or change your behavior. However, any of these changes are not easy to happen and also they bring a lot of discomforts with it. We continuously fail in the beginning or get driven away with our powerful emotional urges. Our commitment to change withers over a period of time. We feel clueless and miserable both at the same time.
Don’t worry, this is all normal.
What you need to understand and accept here is that there is nothing wrong with being uncomfortable. Also there is no need to panic, cry, complain or blame. Those are simply the worst side effects of being uncomfortable at something. Avoid them at any cost.
If you want to be a vegetarian, start eating one veggie or one fruit every day, and just allow yourself to be a little uncomfortable with this new change.
Are you not comfortable for running a mile every day? – start with a small run, or go for cycling or a speed walk, and get used to it slowly.
It’s okay to feel uncomfortable with new set of activities. Discomfort is also a part of the process and let not it be the reason for quitting.
The problem is, we want results right away – right now. When we don’t get it, we lose patience and enthusiasm both. We quit. And of course, when we quit, we never actually get any meaningful results.
Therefore, starting small, focusing on one thing and enjoying the process without worrying about the end result is the key to overcome any discomfort or frustration.
Allow yourself to be uncomfortable and still keep moving forward.
Have an Accountability Partner
If you really want to be successful in your goal, never work in isolation. Instead, surround yourself with the people who can cheer you on, guide you and hold you accountable for your commitment to succeed during those moments of doubt.
Ask your partner or friends to be your accountability partner or you can join some mastermind groups to find someone and then you both can be an accountability partner for each other.
What are the benefits of having an accountability partner?
- You can share your goal with him/her and requesting him to hold you accountable for the success.
- You both can meet (physically or virtually) at set time, preferably once a week for your progress check.
- You can discuss what happened during the week and what you did for your goal achievement, what did you do right and what did you do wrong and why? How can you improve more to achieve more?
- You can monitor each other’s progress and provide an honest feedback, motivation and reminder that what will happen if you fail to achieve your goals.
- If you achieve what you planned, you can celebrate it with each other, if you fail to achieve, you can discuss the reasons and resolutions for the same. You can help each other where you can.
In short, your accountability partner refuses to let you fail or to let you come with any excuses. Remember, that famous quote…
“You are the sum of the five people, you surround yourself with” – Jim Rohn
this is accountability in a nutshell.
Remember, a small progress everyday adds up to a big success one day. Have clarity on what you want, divide the big project into a number of small tasks and keep your focus on one thing at a time. Do not quit, and keep moving. Don’t hesitate to get help from others and also help others to achieve their goal. To bring any positive change then would seem like an interesting game and not some stressful exercise.
Hope this helps.
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(Image Credit: Joan Cabras)