Change is in the Air!
Summer and chagim are officially over. The oppressive heat is tuning down. We can even say that the “achrei hachagim” period is almost over. So, how are those new year’s resolutions going? Have you stuck to your healthy eating habits? Have you implemented that 3x a week exercise program? Have you kept up that quality time with your spouse or kids that you regard as really important?
If like me, you are finding that motivation and desire for change are not enough for you to get to the finish line and make the change a reality, it may help you to check that you have all these 5 conditions for making change successful.
The very first step for making a change is simply knowing that something needs to change. Being aware of the need for change means that you have already begun the process! So pat yourself on the back and embrace the journey. Let's keep going...
Every behavior is rooted in good intentions (for oneself). A person who yells demonstrates the need to be heard. Me, I eat too many sugary snacks to distract me in stressful situations. There is a reward being sought in every action we take, even if the action itself turns out to be detrimental. In his book “The Power of Habit”, Charles Duhigg suggests for us to replace negative reward-seeking behavior (eating sugary snacks as stress release) with behavior that will get us the same reward, but in a more constructive way (going for a walk as stress release).
Here are some questions to ask yourself regarding motivation for change:
How does the present situation affect you?
How does the present situation harm you?
How does the present situation SERVE you? Coming back to Charles Duhigg, what BENEFIT is this current situation giving you?
And following your answer for 3, what alternative behaviors could get you the same effect?
Once you’ve answered the above questions to clarify your motivation, you can start to dig deeper into this motivation. When dealing with abstract concepts like motivation, it's helpful to quantify:
On a scale of 1-10, how much do you WANT this change? (remember this number, when we get to the 4th condition for change
Sometimes, in order to change behavior, we have to first change a limiting belief. Let’s go back to our quantifiable questioning.
On a scale of 1-10:
How POSSIBLE is the change?
How would you rate your SKILLS and ABILITY to change?
How worthwhile/DESIRABLE is the change?
How much do you DESERVE to achieve this change? How worthy do you feel you are to achieve your goal?
This can be very revealing. A score of less than 7 on any of these questions can uncover a limiting belief that is holding you back.
I consider this question to be the most revealing of all. In number 2, you asked yourself how much you WANTED this change. Remember your number?
Now ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10, how much EFFORT are you prepared to put in to make this change? And you have to be totally honest here – the down and dirty naked truth - what is your effort rating?
If there is a big discrepancy between the two, it can help you understand why you haven’t succeeded until now. The next question would be: What can you do to close that gap? How can you increase the effort?
This is the final condition needed for making a successful change. Change is not always easy. Especially if it’s an ingrained habit that you’ve been doing on autopilot for a while. So be kind to yourself and acknowledge the difficulty involved. And know that life is all about falling off and getting back on the horse. Failure is nothing but helpful feedback. Thomas Edison said of his many failures before he invented the light-bulb, that every failed attempt was one more step forward: “Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.” And then, go for progress over perfection, because perfect is a myth.
I’d like to end off with a quote by author Robin Sharma: “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous in the end.” Here’s wishing you all a year of gorgeous changes!