Everything worth having requires work. I know, it’s a harsh reality and I ally with your frustration. However, I urge you to persevere. Changing your perception of that “work” is half the battle.
Much of what keeps us from starting this change game is agonizing over the unpleasant journey that we know is ahead. My greatest success and experience coaching clients through changes of personal well-being has begun with allowing them to express their unpleasant experiences, what they hate, don’t want to do, and how they feel about their ability to change anything in their lives. I can usually relate and use that moment to transform from “the heavy” into a “co-conspirator of creation.” Starting with assuring them that “no one is doing anything he or she does not want to here” and that we can re-create and co-create an experience of change into something they will want to participate in long-term.
If you are trying to shrink your perception of the mountains of change before you, here’s four steps you can work through to put your personal change process mentally, and emotionally, on a foundation you’ll be willing to build on.
1. Accept that change takes time. Before you let out a big sigh, remember that it is the same time, attention and focus you put into those things you cannot wait to do. So, it is not beyond your ability to invest and commit. You’ve got this! The following steps are going to guide you on how to WANT to put in that time. Accomplish accepting that time will move this mountain, and you will move an enormous hurdle out of your way.
2. Relish in the fact that you have control over the experience. Here’s where you get to let go of much stress and worry. How this change will transpire does not have to be weighted down by previous experiences and thoughts of “what if.” Erase the image of what this change process has looked like in the past. If that way worked, you’d still be doing it. It’s time to start with a fresh drawing board. Acknowledging that you control what the process looks like will significantly lighten your load for the journey.
3. Keep it simple AND make it feel good. We all want to get to the top of the mountain right away, but if you signed up for your first marathon and they asked you to run the 26.2 miles today you’d likely hurt yourself physically and psychologically from the stress. Step three is where you find the things you not only can do, but will look forward to doing and put a big fat X over the things you do not like. Here’s where you discover new additions for your redesign plan in things that peak your interest. Fore me, after participating in several physical activities enough to give them a fair chance, I can now say that I like to spin, do yoga, weight train with a trainer, hike, jump some rope and occasionally test my balance on a surfboard. I do NOT enjoy running, cardio barre, boot camps, biking, or anything involving a DVD or a gym. That’s my personal blueprint for physical movement.
4. Celebrate and log all wins to counterbalance the losses. Yes, there will be losses. See step one. I agree with James Clear that the goal here is to cast more votes for where you want to go vs. annihilating the behaviors of where you’ve been. Small steps create significant change, and small rewards encourage bigger steps. Reward yourself for small acts of change and for stretch goals (like walking those extra miles) that will support increased effort over time. Acknowledge growth by tracking numbers, but also by noticing and appreciating new choices. I celebrate the moments when I am the victor where I have previously allowed myself to get derailed. Like those times when I choose a quality greek yogurt with fresh fruit instead of a bag of my favourite chocolate candy.
By applying these four steps at the start of any change process personally or while guiding a client, I have had the pleasure of participating in the demolition of a few mountains along the way to change. When you get to the other side and wonder when you arrived, it’s a delicious moment to savor. While you may not be able to pinpoint exactly when the change occurred, you’ll remember enjoying the ride and want to stay on it.
Kibibi Springs is an Organizational Psychologist, Wellness Advisor, Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist and Founder of LifeonSprings, a wellness coaching company for individuals and companies who want to improve well-being in small, sustainable ways.