Just Stop it!
You heard me, just stop it!
Wouldn’t it be incredible if that worked to change your behavior?
To kick that habit? Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
It’s clear. It’s simple. It’s direct. But it’s regrettably ineffective.
Watch how it works for this woman, “Just stop it” and you’ll smile as you relate.
Nothing about changing your behavior is that simple.
Especially when you’re trying to stop a bad habit and replace it with a healthy alternative.
Ever hear the expression, “change is hard?”
There’s a reason why people say that.
Behaviors get embedded in your daily routines and you become entrenched in their effects, mentally, physically, physiologically and socially.
Your brain becomes hard wired to do them, whether they produce good or bad outcomes in your life.
Behaviors become so habitual you aren’t even aware you do them.
Until you try to stop, change or improve them. Then you’re painfully aware.
WHY IS IT SO HARD TO CHANGE BEHAVIOR?
Let’s explore one reason change is so hard.
Let’s pretend you smoke (the behavior). It makes you feel calm (good stuff) the instant you do it (immediately) and this happens whenever you smoke (its certain to happen).
The benefits you get from smoking are immediate and certain making the smoking behavior very resistant to change. Not worth changing.
Ah, but wait!
You cough a lot (bad stuff) and in 10-30 years (delayed to the future) you may or may not develop lung cancer (not everyone, just some people).
The harmful outcome from smoking is delayed and uncertain also making the smoking behavior very resistant to change. Not worth changing.
Whether the outcomes of your change are immediate and certain OR delayed and uncertain heavily impacts your decision to change.
The value of the outcome, good or bad, is your personal decision to make.
In other words, is it worth it?
My dad, God love him, struggled to stop smoking for 40 years. The moment he learned he had lung cancer, he immediately quit. Death became an immediate and certain outcome and smoking instantly lost its value in his life. It wasn’t worth it anymore.
Know that delayed and uncertain outcomes produce a lot of contemplation.
Contemplation keeps you on the fence, contemplation dulls your focus, contemplation makes committing to change difficult.
So, what can you do?
12 TIPS FOR TAKING ACTION
1. Explore the behavior to be changed
Explore what the behavior does for you. Then pick an equivalent alternative that improves the quality of your life. Take the smoking example. Smoking provided a calming effect. One could explore what’s producing the need to feel calm and other healthier alternatives that promote a sense of calm. (i.e. deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation, relaxing music, exercise, contact nature, take a break, etc.) Exploring cultivates your understanding, uncovers your needs, and supports creating your plan for change.
2. Examine the benefits of the change
Knowledge is power! Benefits can include health, wellness, family, career, money, time, etc. What does the research say? Compare the benefits to your current situation. Which has more benefit? When you’ve explored the benefits, make a pros and cons list for change and see what you discover.
3. Listen to those who love and support you
This is especially important to a change that affects your well-being. You bring a lot of value and worth to the lives of others. They want to keep you around for good reasons. I lost years of memories I could’ve made with my dad.
4. Connect with someone who’s been successful with change
Getting their perspective on their journey can fuel your efforts and be a source of support. Use personal contacts, podcasts, articles, coaches, videos, etc.
5. Focus on the positive aspects
Understand that even if your outcome is down the road and uncertain, you’ve still increased odds for positive things to occur in your life. I bet you can already look back on a past experience and know this to be true. Stay positive!
6. Consider unintended outcomes
Even if your outcomes aren’t immediate or certain, you can reap the benefits of unintended outcomes. These can be immediate and certain. And, so much more than anything you ever expected! For example, your goal is to lose 60 lbs. In the process you make a new friend at the gym. You feel healthier and more confident, causing you to seek out a new career or job. You enter a competition for the first time in your life. You get more compliments and support than you’ve ever experienced before. Anything can happen when you take a chance on change!
7. Plan to sustain your motivation
Staying strong when things get tough requires motivation. Be proactive. Plan for capturing and creating opportunities to motivate and fuel your efforts. Capture them through words and gestures of others. When someone praises your efforts and accomplishments soak it in don’t reject it. Create opportunities by making a list of things you really like (music, healthy food, event, activity, special purchase, time with friends, etc.). Then intermittingly reward your hard work along the way until you reach your ultimate goal.
8. Keep your intentions and values in the forefront for completing the goal
The “why” of it all. Make an everyday reminder. Write it down, post pictures, talk about it. Keep a strong commitment to why you’re making the change.
9. Generate a support system
Supportive people can be your lifeline. They help you realize your courage, sustain your commitment, stay on track, and celebrate your achievements. They can kick you in the ass or give you a hug when you need it. Likewise, limit your time with unsupportive people, motivation killers and dream squashers. Their feedback isn’t helpful in the change process. If you already have supportive people in your life, reach out to them. If not, (or if you want more) check with local or online groups, Meet-ups, coaches, or other professionals. There are lots of options.
10. Journal about your experiences and reflect on them often
These entries can provide strong reminders and valuable encouragements of your change progress. Record before and after thoughts and/or pictures. These demonstrate your strengths and help you to use them in the future. You’ll be surprised what you learn about yourself!
11. Never give up, adapt if necessary
If something isn’t going as planned, reevaluate. Don’t use it as an excuse to stop your change and growth process.
12. Make a doable plan before you start to set yourself up for success
Access support from someone who has expertise in your area of change to help you plan. Check your local resources and online for experienced people, like a coach. If you want to do it yourself, do the legwork. Gain knowledge. Then make your plan.
Click HERE to download your free quick guide for 12 Tips For Taking Action When Change Is Hard.
Over to you…
What have you been struggling to change?
What’s holding you back?
What makes change worth it?
I hope these action tips get you off the contemplation fence and on the path to cultivating wellness!
Wishing you Wellward! Linda