Make Change Stick
Let’s be honest, change can be painful. You set goals and have been going through the motions of making changes. But you’re overwhelmed with taking on a new routine, uninspired by doing something that initially may not seem like much fun and frustrated with the time it takes to see results. If you feel like giving up, read this!
YOUR MIND ON CHANGE
Adopting a wellness lifestyle requires change in everyday habits. Habits are ingrained sets of behaviors that are upheld by an underlying set of beliefs. While it may seem counter-intuitive, your subconscious mind will often resist change (even the good kind), because it wants to protect you from doing something that seems painful or threatens your sense of comfort in what is familiar. This can lead you to fight change or avoid it altogether, even if your logical mind knows that change is for the best.
When it comes to the habit you are trying to change, what do you believe about yourself that keeps you stuck in your old way of doing things? What discomfort around this change are you resisting? Before I switched to a plant-based diet, I often joked about being a carnivore. This was how I identified myself, and I believed that no meal could be complete or satisfying without a generous portion of meat. I also found mean easy to prepare and didn’t want to have to learn to cook differently. Imagine how tough it is to stick to a plant-based diet when you believe that!
CHANGE YOUR MIND, CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Deciding to do something new isn’t simply a matter of acting in a new way, the mind must get on board with that action so that you can minimize your internal resistance to change. Have you noticed all the great excuses your brain comes up with not to do something? Have you noticed anxious thoughts that come up when you think of doing that new, different thing? Know that this is completely natural and does not make you a bad person. I transitioned to a plant-based diet because my cholesterol was chronically high, and I realized that I could get more nutrients into my body to enhance my overall wellbeing if I intentionally added more plants to my diet. However I was resistant to learning how to prepare food differently and educating myself on plant-based sources of nutrients.
I overcame this after wrestling with myself for about two months. Now I absolutely love my diet, how it has improved my health, and how it makes me feel. Regardless of what change you are implementing in your life to improve your wellbeing, there are fundamental strategies to help you stay committed. They worked for me and have worked for my clients.
Connect to your motivation: What is at stake for you? Sit and reflect on what you are losing or missing out on by maintaining the status quo. How does remaining the same impact your relationship with yourself, others in your life, your career, your health, etc.? On the other hand, what becomes available to you when you live into a better version of yourself? Does it create more confidence, stamina, longevity, energy to connect with loved ones and create, etc.? Thinking this through will reveal the underlying motivation and help you get in touch with why this change is worth sticking to.
Make it enjoyable: Find ways to make the change you’re adopting a pleasurable experience. For example, if you want to get in shape, find a form of movement that makes you feel good while you’re doing it. If you want to eat healthier, try recipes with ingredients that taste really good to you. Making the experience as enjoyable as possible greatly increases your chances of following through.
Remove barriers to following through: This is a great time to assess the excuses that tend to stop you from doing what you committed to. These excuses can be time, other commitments, being tired, and many others. Now make these excuses irrelevant. For example, if you want to stop eating out so much but don’t have time to go to the grocery store, consider shifting your schedule and making an appointment with yourself to go grocery shopping , or have groceries delivered to your home so that the healthy food you need comes right to you. By making the excuse irrelevant you reduce the difficulty and anxiety around committing to change.
Set up accountability: Reminders and encouragement cue your brain that you can and will stick to the change you committed to. Multiple forms of accountability can work together at the same time. These can be digital, like daily reminders from a tracker app that lets you know when to move your body, or calendar invites to yourself that tell you when it’s time to go to bed so that you aren’t sleep deprived. Accountability also works powerfully when it comes through people. Having an accountability group or partner who shares the same goals is a great way to stick to change. Accountability can even come from loving people in your life who may not be walking the same journey as you but want to see you succeed and will check in on you to make sure you’re pushing forward. Share what you’re up to with people who believe in you.
MAKE SUCCESS INEVITABLE
We all need a jump-start sometimes to get back on track. Doing the above will make change easier and less stressful. If you need additional support to make your wellness goals a reality, consider working with a coach. I have helped my clients overcome limiting beliefs and behaviors to accelerate their progress and make success inevitable. By connecting to your motivation, making it enjoyable, removing barriers to change and setting up accountability, you will find yourself defaulting to new behaviors that are aligned to your goals.