While it may be scary to make changes, you will find strength and growth in the process. Tell yourself that things will never be the same. That YOU will never be the same. That this is an opportunity to realise new levels of opportunity and growth.
The four steps needed to bring about a change are:
Awareness of the need to change → Commitment to the process → Action
“If you don’t change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” ~ Lao Tzu
If you’re not happy with where you are, only one person can change it. It does take time and effort, however.
Become aware of what it is you need or want to change. We are often boxed in by the boundaries (conditions) of our thinking, e.g. our environment, conditions, patterns and programming. It may be that you need to change your beliefs, habits, stressors, diet or exercise. It may take considerable thought and reflection to establish what you need to change.
Below are some questions designed to promote thought to ‘bring out’ what changes you really want in your life. So step back, get some perspective and take an unemotional, honest look at your mindset, lifestyle, finances, relationships, career, diet, exercise habits, and any other aspects of your life. Identify what and how you need to change.
- What’s missing in my life? For example, time, holidays, money, health, family.
- What’s in my control?
- What’s not working in my life right now?
- What’s the best use of my time?
- What’s the best use of my energy, skill and potential?
- What do I have to be thankful for?
- What can I learn from my current situation?
- How am I contributing to this problem?
- What do I need to let go of?
- What does success look like for me?
- What are my core values?
- Is my life a reflection of those values?
- What’s important to me?
Once you have established changes that you need to make, ask each of the questions below for each of your desired changes.
- Do I really want to be, do or have this?
- Will being, doing or having this move me toward my ideal life?
- Will being, doing or having this keep me in harmony with universal law?
- Will being, doing or having this violate the rights of others?
If you answered ‘Yes’, ‘Yes’, ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ to these questions, then you’re ready to make the change.
If you are not 100% certain of what you want to change, it is due to either:
- You don’t know what you want
- You don’t know how to get it
- Something is stopping you
If you don’t know what you want, spend more time ‘sitting’ with the above questions. If you are not sure how to get what you want, gain advice from someone with expertise in that particular area. If there is some factor stopping you, spend time gaining clarity around that sabotage factor. A coach may be of help in this is the case.
What can you change?
Before you continue, it is important that you come to the realisation that there are some things that you can’t change.
Using your body as an example, your genes play a large role in determining how much you weigh. Your genetic code contains the blueprint for our body type. Your environment only plays a role in obesity in that it enables those obesogenic genes to be expressed.
Take, for example, a study from Denmark, in which the researchers compared the weight of more than 500 adopted children with that of their biological parents and that of their adoptive parents. If learned eating habits influence a child’s body weight more than genes do, his or her body weight should be similar to his or her adoptive parents. Conversely, if genes influence a child’s body weight more than environment does, his or her body weight should be similar to that of the biological parents. What did the researchers find? Interestingly, the children’s body weight was highly correlated with the weight of their biological parents but not with the weight of their adoptive parents, even though their biological parents were not raising them.
Another study in which identical twins were studied, researchers compared the body weight of 93 pairs of identical twins who were raised apart in separate homes and 154 pairs of identical twins raised together in the same home. The results of the study showed that the body weights of the identical twins were highly correlated whether the twins were raised together or apart. The results of this and other twin studies have shown that genes account for 70 percent of the variation in people’s body weight. That’s a pretty large influence.
So what can’t you change?
Your chronological age – There is no point stressing about how old you are. You were born when you were born – there is no changing that.
Your sex – Men and women are meant to be different, and have different physiologies and structure. As with age, you need to work with who you are and be happy in that.
Your genetics – We have different body types and metabolic rates. Work with what you have.
Your history – Success or failures of the past are just that, the past. Move on! What are you going to do differently to make you successful now? It is crucial that you do things differently than you have done in the past if you want to get a different result.
So, what do we do? We focus on the 30 percent that we can control.
What to change
Control what you can control. You do have a great deal of control over your body, even if your genetics are pre-disposed to being a particular way.
What you can change:
Your biological age (how “old” your body is) – By having a healthier lifestyle, you can change your biological age, which in turn will improve the quality of your life – and potentially increase the length of your life. It may be more difficult to create change as a 50+ year old, but you are still very adaptable. It comes down to what we do at our age rather than what our age is.
Your typical behaviours – You are in control of your day-to-day habits! It is your choice whether you exercise in the morning or stay in bed an extra half an hour; eat chocolate as a snack or a piece of fruit; smoke cigarettes or not.
Your diet – It is your choice what you eat. The key is to become aware of your psychology, habits and other factors that cause you to make the choices that you currently make. Building your own effective meal pattern that works within your lifestyle commitments is the best approach. Having flexibility for detours from your regular healthy pattern will provide the best recipe for success.
Your lifestyle – The amount of sleep you have; your level of stress; your alcohol consumption; smoking cigarettes; taking drugs; how you relax; your work/ life balance are all areas of your lifestyle that you can change if you want.
Your exercise habits – Your body is meant to move every day and ideally in a variety of different ways. Do some form of exercise or activity every day and endeavour to vary it as much as possible.
Your attitude – The state of your physiology is a by-product of your psychology. By becoming aware of the underlying factors that cause you to act or respond in a particular way, you can begin to dismantle those things that sabotage your efforts to accomplish your goals. A Food Diary can help, together with a general awareness.
Don’t try to undo years (or decades) of abuse by next week. The more drastic and numerous the changes, the less likely you are to maintain any of them. You need to take one step at a time.
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
Commitment to change
Change can be difficult, but by establishing a definite reason (purpose) and creating a strong support base, together with the education required, you can become the person you want to be and lead your ideal life.
Any decision you make is simply a promise to yourself that isn’t worth anything until you have totally committed to keeping it. And unless you have a definite purpose with which to link the new promise, your chances of success are minimal.
With commitment comes resourcefulness. By truly committing to the task at hand, you will find resources to assist will come to you.
Change the way you do things by changing your neural pathway (habit) immediately. You need to be committed to the process of change. It’s not enough to consciously decide to make a change. Change happens at the sub-conscious level immediately. Everything prior to the change is just a lead up or a set-up. What is it you need to change and what habit will you replace it with? Create a compelling pathway – what will it feel/ sound/ look like? Pave your imagination with as much detail as possible. If you have been able to develop poor eating habits, then you are equally able to develop healthy ones.
There are many decisions we make in our lives that we can look back on as significant, even though we may not have realised it at the time. Life-changing moments can occur without the great fanfare we might expect. In fact, the decisions you are making right now are shaping your destiny.
When in doubt, just take the next small step.
Most people, however, do not take total responsibility for their outcomes; in fact, it is generally about 2% of people who do. They are the ones who create the life they desire without any blame, excuses or denial.
The other 98% are the ones who always seem to have someone or something to blame, or have an excuse as to why they can’t do it now or are in denial about their current situation. It seems they are stuck in a ‘victim’ mentality.
Once you have made the commitment, it is then about consistent and persistent action until you reach your goal and beyond.
Note that there will be challenges along the way. But challenges in life don’t arise haphazardly, no matter how accidental or coincidental they may seem. They only arrive when you’re ready for them. Not when you’re ready to be squashed, but when you’re ready to grow, overcome, and be more than who you were before they arrived.
”Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.” ~ W. H. Murray
“Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.” ~ Paulo Coelho
Changing stuff is not as hard as you think. It’s fear that stops you. Challenge your thinking regularly. Do you have the courage to get out of your comfort zone (and stay out)?
How would you live your life if you had no fear?
Most of our fears are from beliefs created before the age of 7 years of age. If your efforts are being sabotaged by these beliefs, it’s time to change your beliefs.
Most problems and solutions are created in your imagination. You can’t change a problem with the same thought process that created the problem.
We create via our actions or not. If you want to be a fat, lazy person, do what fat, lazy people do. If you don’t…don’t.
When you make the decision to change something, it is important to establish clearly defined, manageable steps that will lead you to accomplish your goal. Learn to love doing what is necessary to accomplish your goals.
You cannot achieve change without taking action! You need to decide if you are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish your goal or whether it is just wishful thinking. If you are not ready to make the necessary changes, it is better to admit to yourself that now is not the right time, and wait until the time is right. Trying to do something that you are not totally committed to will just lead to failure. This will adversely affect your belief system, making it harder in the future when you do decide you’re ready.
Form a circle of support around you. Ideal people to provide this support include family, friends, co-workers and/ or a coach. They are generally people that want to help but sometimes may not know how.
As young children, we made mistakes & moved on. Then we started formal education where we learned not to make mistakes (to step back into your comfort zone whenever things get difficult instead of learning like a young child).
The Australian military has found that when fired upon, more success was gained moving toward the danger or taking cover in place rather than to move away.
So take pro-active positive action and move forward.
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
When you feel discouraged or feel like giving up, perhaps this poem by William Ernest Henley will help.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.