When it comes to change, we tend to think of it as either frightening or exciting. Those are two powerful emotions! And, amazingly, change is a combination of both.
When we first enter adulthood, we're forced to change into mature, functioning grownups. Leaving childhood behind means changing in huge ways, and it's scary, exciting, and we're (likely) better for it.
But then we get older and set in our ways – and change starts to feel dangerous. The fear of the unknown takes over, and we dig our heels into our routines and ways of thinking. In fact, change is often scarier than fixing dysfunctional behavior; even when we know we'd be happier, more fulfilled, and better off for it
That's not a headspace you want to be in. Don't wait until change is absolutely crucial, start the moment it pops into your head.
How? That's what I'm here for! Here are five considerations to help you overcome our natural resistance to change:
1. Understand the Consequence of Staying Unchanged
You need to have a clear image of what will happen—both for you and to you—if you decide not to change something. When you can slow down and play the tape forward, you can see how your behavior will continue to negatively affect you and, potentially, others.
2. DESIRE the Change that YOU Need
In case you couldn't tell, the two keywords there are "YOU" and "DESIRE." You cannot change for anyone else – it must be because you want it. And when it comes to desire, there needs to be some forward-motion energy behind the decision.
3. Go for Bite-Sized Goals
Figure out ways to change using baby steps. For example, let’s say you’re trying to cut back on caffeine. Instead of going cold turkey and suffering caffeine withdrawal, taper back one cup at a time, and ween yourself off. Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither will ending a dependency.
4. Identify Your Reward System
When going through a behavior overhaul, you need to be encouraged and acknowledged by yourself and others. Some of us need words of affirmation; others need to treat ourselves here and there as a reward. Celebrate every accomplishment. Relish every validation. You can overcome anything with the right support system, even if it's from within.
5. Track Your Results
Remember: baby steps. Giving up something we're used to is uncomfortable at first, and the positive effects might take some time to illuminate. Take notes on how you feel. Track little (physical, emotional, social) changes that you see. Every so often, take some time to look at all the progress you have made.
Keeping your progress written down will help you stay on track! (It always does.)
In the long run, you can’t (nor should you) change for anyone else. What it truly takes is your own willpower to make a shift.
But! And this is a big but, I cannot lie:
You can take advice and encouragement from those around you! When you decide that you're ready to embark on this journey, ask for help. Let someone who loves and supports you to hold you accountable. It's a free, meaningful, and effective tool to help keep you moving in the right direction.