Some of you are thinking about a change. Some of you are ready to change. Some of you have the change process in motion.
It doesn’t matter where you are the in the process.
The 13 tips below can support your efforts.
1. PICK ONE EASY, DOABLE THING TO CHANGE
Wrestling with change? Pick one easy, doable thing. It can set you in motion. Make your bed when you get out of it; drink one glass of water twice a day; walk five minutes two times per week; meditate five minutes three days a week. Explore a new hobby or career one hour per week as a baby step toward change. Pick one thing that you can commit to changing and have a high likelihood of accomplishing.
What does changing one easy, doable thing do for you?
- It gets you experiencing success.
- It gets you talking about success with others.
- It gets you using and strengthening the physical and mental resources needed to produce change.
- It gets you fueled with motivation for taking on future change.
Why start with just one thing?
Remember, while you’re working on change, the rest of your life keeps spinning. It needs some of those same skills and resources you’re using for change. Too many changes at once may thwart your efforts. So, pick one and keep it doable.
2. BREAK COMPLEX CHANGE INTO ACHIEVABLE PIECES
Say you want to lose 100lbs or learn to meditate for 30 minutes every day. Those are big, complex goals for change. One way to tackle a big complex change is to break it down into achievable pieces. For example, aim for losing five or 10lbs per month until your reach your 100lb goal. Meditate five minutes per day, adding five minutes every week.
Remember, what’s doable for one person isn’t doable for another. Start where you can achieve success and adjust as you go. Avoid being overwhelmed. Break it down.
3. SELECT THINGS TO CHANGE THAT ARE MEANINGFUL AND RELEVANT TO YOU
If there’s no meaning or relevance in what you change, there’s no value. If there’s no value, you won’t expend the effort to change. Change will not be worth it.
This can feel like failure. In reality it wasn’t valued change.
This can happen when you agree to buddy up with a partner for a group challenge. Your partner’s invested, but you’re just doing it to support her. Or when well-meaning people talk you into change that you don’t want or aren’t ready for.
If your change has high value and worth, you’ll produce the effort necessary to make it happen.
4. SPECIFICALLY DEFINE YOUR INTENTIONS FOR THE CHANGE
Intentions involve a clearly defined statement about your purpose. In other words, why are you making the change? Many of our intentions operate outside of our awareness. By specifically defining your intentions for change, you bring them into your awareness. Use your intentions to strengthen your motivation for change.
Here’s an intention example. I will sleep eight hours per day to recover my energy, improve my mental clarity, and reduce my stress. I want to be more productive at work, and have more positive interactions across my day, especially with my family. I also want to reduce the risk of stroke that runs in my family.
5. SUMMON YOUR SENSE OF STRENGTH
When was the last time you felt really strong? What did it feel like in your body, your emotions and thoughts? Get in the habit of calling up your sense of strength to fuel your positive intentions, motivation, determination and energy.
Try using verbal rehearsals like, “I’m feeling strong.”, It’s good to be strong.”, or “My strength helps me do good things.” And consciously take in and savor strength experiences when they naturally occur so they become part of you.
6. DESCRIBE YOUR PLAN FOR CHANGE
Understand that behavior change is a process with steps. It involves a lot of critical interconnected pieces. Sustained change doesn’t happen without a process that considers all of the critical steps and pieces.
For example – – What will you do? How often? Where? What duration? Who will support you? When will you start? How will you monitor your progress? How will you celebrate your successes? How will you remove/eliminate barriers to your success? What will you do if you surpass your goals? How will you establish a new routine to replace the old one? Etc.
It’s easy to think that saying “Just stop it” or “Just do it” would promote change. But nothing about behavior change is that simple.
7. MONITOR YOUR PROGRESS
Monitoring gives you a picture of the facts. It tells you in an instant if you’re meeting or exceeding your goals. This allows for immediate adjustments that keep you on the path to success.
Use whatever you are likely to be consistent with to monitor your progress. There are plenty of apps and devices to choose from that measure speed, rate, time, duration, etc. that you can align with your goals. Some of these tools will be specific to an individual. Others are widely adopted and available to anyone who needs them.
We all need a toolbox of supports to rely on during the long haul. Check them out. See if there’s an option just right for you. Or you can go old school. Just mark off days on the calendar, make tic marks on a card, put money in a jar. The point is to monitor your progress and keep it doable.
8. SET REASONABLE TIMEFRAMES
Changing or developing a behavior takes time. You didn’t learn the behaviors you’re trying to change overnight. Some of them were shaped over years, but you expect to change in two weeks. Learning new behaviors can take weeks, months or years. Be reasonable with your timeframes. Determine them based on your own personal pace and needs. Not on the pace, needs, and experiences of others.
9. NURTURE AND MAINTAIN YOUR MOTIVATION
The more effort involved in a change, the more and stronger the motivation needed. If you feel your motivation waning, ask yourself why. Did something just get harder? Are you lacking the results you hoped? Are your goals and expectations misplaced? Are you celebrating your successes, even if they’re small? Are you celebrating success often enough? Do you need more or different support?
Change doesn’t happen overnight, right? Even when you give a lot of effort. When the outcome of your effort isn’t producing equal amounts of value and reward, it can kill your motivation. When this happens, imbedding extra rewards along the way can help. Example: you have five consecutive days of eating healthy. This was hard, and you haven’t lost weight yet. So, you treat yourself to a movie to reward your efforts, until the real rewards, weight loss, happens.
Rewards have different value to different people, so pick what you value, not what someone else values. And pick rewards that won’t sabotage your efforts, (i.e. sweet treats for weight loss).
10. CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESSES AND OFTEN
No matter how small, celebrate your successes. Specific what you did well and tell people who support you. Example, “I walked for 10 minutes for 7 days in a row.” Not, “I met my goal”, or “I did really good this week.”
Being specific about what you did well can strengthen those skills and behaviors and help them to happen more frequently in the future. You bring them to your awareness and shine a positive light on your strengths. Tell yourself your proud if your efforts. Treat yourself to something you enjoy, but that won’t sabotage your efforts.
11. CULTIVATE THE POSITIVE
Focus on what’s going well and what you are doing right. Even though most of our experiences are positive ones, we regularly focus on the negative. That’s because we have a build in bias for negativity as a survival mechanism.
It’s crucial to create opportunities to remind yourself of the positives of your change efforts. I love the Day One app for recording positive events. Especially because you can add photos. Here are some others apps to check out for your positivity planting.
Other ways to cultivate the positive and motivate yourself are to gain knowledge and be inspired. There are various vlogs, blogs, groups, books, podcasts, etc. to soak in. These can build your knowledge or inspire you based on your topic of interest. Here’s one to check out!
12. TREAT DISAPPOINTMENT AS A LESSON TO LEARN FROM
If you try to make any change, disappointment is part of the process. And it’s probably going to happen more than once. Avoid getting caught in the all or nothing attitude.
Remember disappointment goes hand-in-hand with our predisposition to negative bias, mentioned earlier in this list. Don’t take initial disappointment a step further and let it color your entire experience. It’s not global failure.
Be proactive and armed to combat disappointment. Let it serve to reveal what deserves your attention and energy as you plow forward.
I encourage you to use disappointment as a step, not as the end of the process or an excuse to stop trying. I’m not telling you to sugar coat your disappointment. I’m telling you to learn from it and use it as a catalyst to success. Listen to any great success story and it is riddled with how people dealt with disappointment to produce success. Nip it in the bud!
13. STAY COMMITTED WITH A STRONG SUPPORT SYSTEM
Support systems help you stay committed to your change. They help you learn from your disappointment. They celebrate your successes. They tell you the truth, not what you want to hear. They withhold judgements. They give you a safe space to explore and discover things about yourself.
Support can come from friends, family, spouses, children, co-workers, and even strangers that recognize your accomplishments. If you don’t have a strong support system, then look online for relevant groups and/or experienced coaches like me.
Finally, but perhaps most important, is to be fully committed to accomplish whatever you set out to, or it won’t happen. Firmly establish what you are going to do, and how you are going to do it. Share that with your support system. Everything else starts here.
Click HERE to download your free quick guide for 13 Tips for Successful Behavior Change.
Over to you…
What’s one, easy doable change you can make?
What can you do to cultivate the positive?
How do you celebrate your successes?
Stay positive! And have fun using these tips to support your successful change!
Wishing you Wellward! Linda