"When you continue to chase your fears and go on, something happens to you."
Many people think of a New Year’s Resolution each year. Their intentions are on point. They want to better an aspect of themselves, their work, health, or relationships. At this time, change seems exciting and maintainable. However, a few months or even weeks later, people lose sight of their resolution; they fall into old habits. They mess up once and deem their resolution as a failure.
As a Millennial Consultant for businesses and Therapist and Coach for this generation, I have learned through working with my clients and through research that change can happen at any time of the year, at any moment, any day, and any hour. Change is not something that happens over a period of time. Change happens in a moment.
Creating Lasting Change
1. Identify your beliefs.
What are your beliefs regarding your ability to change? Do you believe you can’t do it? Are your thoughts a combination of “Who do you think you are?” or “If I change and be happy, then I won’t know what else to focus on and work on?” Identifying the beliefs you have about yourself in the particular subject you want to focus on is necessary to be able to change them to more helpful beliefs.
2. Drastically change them.
Now that you have identified your beliefs, it’s time to change them. I mean 360 degrees change them. In order to facilitate change, you have to begin telling yourself that you can. These thoughts could like this: “I know this is uncomfortable, but I have done uncomfortable things before, and I can do it again”, “I am worthy of being happy”, “I am good enough”, “I am capable”, “There’s no other option. This is happening.”, and “I am capable of making this change.”
Write them down. Put them in a place where you will see them frequently.
3. Create a routine.
Make it easy on yourself! Look at all the things you need in order to be successful in your goals. Plan out your weeks so that you put time in your calendar. Whether that is 30 minutes to go to the gym, or two hours of networking per week, add that to your schedule as something that is not an option.
4. Be specific.
It is important that you are specific with what exactly you are going to do. Using the example in point 3, if you want to begin networking two hours per week, identify goals that specifically measure the progress. For example, I would make the goal specific by stating that I will attend one networking event per week (one hour) on Friday mornings and reach out to 10 contacts via email to schedule coffee on Tuesday afternoons from 1p-2pm. I will do this for 4 weeks and re-evaluate.
5. Make it a habit.
It takes 30 days to make a habit. These first 30 days it may feel like you are forcing yourself to follow-through. This is the hardest part. After this time, it often becomes a muscle memory - something you don’t even think about doing anymore, you just do it. For example, football players don’t relearn how to throw the football each week, they have built on the practice they have to strengthen that skill. They could throw a football well probably in their sleep. You will do the same if you work extra hard in the beginning. You will, too, be able to throw the football in your sleep. Figuratively, of course.
6. Visualize your success.
Our thoughts create our reality. Take a moment to close your eyes. What would it look like when you reach your goal? How will you feel? What do you notice around you? What can you see or hear? What do you smell or taste? If you reach out your arm, what would you touch? Create the vision of success in your mind; you’re more likely to make it a reality.
Again, I need a visual aid for this. I have used vision boards for myself and with clients. Create a vision board with words, pictures, quotes, etc. of what your goals look like. Visualize it.
7. Be curious about not following through.
It’s inevitable that you may not follow through with your plan at some point along the journey. THAT’S OK. If you don’t, don’t discount your entire journey as a failure. If one of your table’s leg is broken, you would fix the leg, not throw the entire table away. Be curious as to what prevented you from following through in that moment or that day. Need a day off from this a week? Make that a part of your routine. Listen to yourself and what you need. Because we don’t push 100%, 100% of the time does not mean that our entire progress is a failure. It’s not failure. It’s an opportunity to explore your needs. You have still made steps toward reaching your goal. You are still better than when you started. Don’t give up.
8. Recognize your progress.
I am visual learner. I need physical proof of my results. If you’re like me, some ideas in recognizing your progress is drawing a picture of a thermometer. On the side, you will put the points along your change that are measuring markers. For example, if your goal is losing 20lb, put 0lb at the bottom of the thermometer, put 10 in the middle, and 20 at the top. Each pound you lose, you can color a portion of the thermometer to show your progress. You can do this for virtually any goal!
When we recognize your progress, it sometimes feels uncomfortable to praise yourself. This is an opportunity for self-compassion. Pat yourself on the back. Take yourself on a date. Write a letter to yourself about how hard you have worked and how proud you are. Instead of focusing on how much you have to go, look at how far you have come and the progress you have made.
Doubt can only fuel you to prove yourself wrong.
Robin Helget, LMSW, CPT