Choosing change

Change is as close as your breath….

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… it can happen in a heartbeat.

Or not …

But, breathing requires inhaling and exhaling. Change means you have to let go of the old before you can replace it with the new. A little like that old saying, “you must empty the old wineskin before putting new wine into it”.  As a rule, you would wash out a dirty glass before putting something new in it, right?

This year has been a tough one for most people in one way or another. In the last weeks of 2020, I bet many of you are thinking about Christmas and what the new year will bring in. Surely the new year could not bring anything worse than what you have seen this year?

Inevitably, when thinking of a new year many of you will want to make one or more New Year’s Resolutions. Will you make a new year’s resolution?  You will have the strongest of intentions of following through, too. Right?  The idea behind making resolutions is about changing your life in some way. The question is, will you make a resolution that makes your life better? Or will you make it different?

What is on your list? Will you choose to stop smoking? Or decide to lose weight, go travelling, or complete a bucket list? What about catching up with friends you haven’t seen or heard from in decades?  Any of those likely to be on your New Year’s list of things to do or change in your coming year? In truth, will those actions make your life different in some way? Or will they make your life better? Or have you given up making resolutions, believing you no longer have what it takes to make them any more than empty promises to yourself?

Making resolutions indicates you recognise a need for change. Even though you want change, why is it so hard to make change happen in your life? There are two reasons.

Reason number 1: Change is hard. Even though you want it, it is a real stretch to make the small changes that you know will make a difference in your life.

Reason number 2: Deep down, you do not know or understand the why behind the change you want. Or if you do, the why is not strong enough to inspire actions that will make your life different, or better.

Do not despair. In reality, only about 99% of people who make NYE resolutions are in the same boat as you are…. and many will sink with the challenge of changing lifelong habits. Who said it was easy being human?

There are 3 steps to change:

Step 1 – Know  

It is important to know the why of the what. The trick is to be truly clear about the WHY of what you want to change.  What is the feeling behind the results that you want? Is it happiness? Security? Passion? Longevity? Self-esteem? Health? Fitness? How do you think your life will be different once you make the changes? Be absolutely clear about this.

Step 2 – Imagine  

Use a piece of poster paper. Yes, I know, it sounds like I want you to do a dream board or a vision board. Well…. it is similar. Start off by writing down the feelings you will have when you make this change. Find pictures of the results you will see in your life once the change has become permanent. Paste them onto your poster paper around the feelings / words. Place your collage where you will see it every day. If you only have a small piece of paper, use a photo frame. Leave it beside your bed so you see it when you go to bed and when you wake up.

Step 3 – Practise

Repetition creates the changes you want to see. Every day spend at least one minute looking at your poster paper. Imagine how different your life will be. Imagine it in full colour with all the sounds and smells and feelings that go with the new change you are ushering into your life.  Do this more often than once a day if you can. The more you practise imagining how different your life will be, the sooner it will manifest. Be aware that unless you have committed to your change, the practise will be difficult at first but will get easier as you persist.

According to some, a new habit takes approximately 30-40 days to settle in and create a noticeable change in your life.  It may take you less. For me it always takes longer than 30 days so, as you can imagine, changing my habits takes sheer persistence.  But it is do-able. When it feels hard, I just remind myself to breathe in, breathe out…