Every Year over 80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned within a week. Deep inside we know that change will benefit us and without change life stagnates.
So it’s frustrating when you know what you want to do, but for whatever reason you just can’t seem to get yourself to do it consistently.
If a new behavior would obviously be of benefit, why isn’t that change easy to make?
It appears that CHANGE is challenging for a variety of reasons:
- Habits are strong and widespread. The average person has far more habits than they realise. Each morning, you wake up and follow the same routine. You take the same path to work. You think the same thoughts as you did the day before. Much of your day and night is a repeat of the last 500.
- When you feel bored, you soothe yourself in the same 2-3 ways each time. You only eat a few foods regularly. You talk to the same people.
- Habits avoid thinking. They’re done automatically. Anything that minimises thinking seems to be your brain’s preference. The fewer decisions, the better.
To change, you must be certain that change is in your best interest.
Otherwise, your habits will always win.
- Change is hard because it makes you uncomfortable. You already know how to lose 25 pounds or how to find a better job. But the thought of taking the actions necessary to accomplish those goals needs effort and creates discomfort.
- What you’re doing already is working, sort of. Your brain is preoccupied with your survival. What you are currently doing is working – you are surviving – and any change could potentially lead to death. You might be unhappy today, but you are still alive!
- Past failure can sabotage your new changes. If you’ve tried to change several times and failed, part of you says, “Obviously, I can’t change. What’s the use in trying?” It isn’t easy to change, but change is possible.
The main issue keeping you from following through on your plan to change
is attempting to change too much, too soon.
Change is possible with a practical approach:
- Be prepared to change. Expect that change will be challenging. Your odds of success improve if you’re prepared. Create a plan that will enable you to include your new behaviors.
- Start small. To minimize the discomfort that change creates, only change a little each week. Meditating for two minutes each day is easier than starting with 60 minutes. The key is to get in the habit of doing the new behavior each day.
- Have patience. It can take months to make a change permanent. It’s often quoted that a new habit requires 30 days to instill. That’s not true. Studies show that it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the habit and the person.
- Be willing to change yourself and face the consequences. Changing yourself is scary, because you don’t know what the results will be. Accept that your life will change in some way. Discomfort isn’t always a bad thing.
- Expect to relapse. Falling off the wagon is to be expected just keep going. Don’t aim to high – 90% success is fine. That’s all you need.
Perfection is an illusion that will only serve to destroy your confidence.
- Change requires patience with yourself
- Understand why it’s so challenging to change
- Choose to make changes slowly and in stages
- Imagine how much you could change over a few years if you changed just a tiny amount each week
- Recognise how much have you changed over the last few years
- Give slow change a chance