November 2, 2018 • 5 minute read • by Saeed
“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”
– John Dryden
Have you ever wondered why most change efforts, whether individual or organizational, don’t last? All of us want to create lasting change in our lives on some level. The question isn’t what, it is how. Is it really possible to overcome habitual behavior and identity traits that have cemented themselves over the course of your life? The answer is yes but it does take work and attention to the important ingredients that are part of the recipe of lasting change.
1. The importance of focus…
First, there is the law of diminishing returns which says if you spread your efforts too thinly among many different goals and objectives, you end up doing nothing.
The key here is to really focus on one or two goals at a time and then to persist until achieved.
2. The importance of commitment…
Don’t take on a goal just because it would be nice to have. Instead, make sure it has deep meaning for you and your life purpose. It is the deeper level of commitment to the goal – and not progress – that helps you persevere in the face of adversity.
You will know that’s true if you’ve ever started a new diet or exercise regimen successfully (progress) only to sabotage yourself by eating a piece of cake as your reward for that success. You made progress but you lacked the deeper commitment to keep going.
3. The importance of your tribe…
To make true lasting change, you need your tribe, your network, your group of supporters to fuel your motivation through their on-going encouragement and celebration of your successes.
No one is successful for long when they go it alone. Lasting change requires that we have mutual accountability partners, social support and a sense of belonging to something that is greater. We are the people we interact with.
4. The importance of being uncomfortable…
To truly change, you need to be willing to experience discomfort and lean into it. Most change is uncomfortable, even scary. That’s why most people resist change.
But being conscious about why you are seeking the change, and the benefits it holds, helps us to accept whatever we are experiencing as it arises – whether pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.
Bringing discomfort along for the ride, rather than trying to get rid of it, can be a very helpful skill, to allow us to get a longer-term reward.
5. The importance of values…
Most people are not conscious of the fact that behind their desire to change are strong values. When we hold out in front of us what we most value, and identify why this behavior change matters to us, we are more willing to endure for long-term, sustainable change.
Take a moment and think about what behavior you want to change and ask yourself why?
- How will changing this behavior align you with your values?
- How will changing this behavior help you align with the parts of you that you most value about yourself?
- How will it help you with the impact you want to have?
6. The importance of mindset…
Success is not linear. If you have expectations that it is, or that all you do and think will have a clean cause and effect correlation, you will be disappointed and give up before what you want to change has had a chance to breathe.
We all experience setbacks, and the more we can build a growth mindset around the process of change, and approach our mistakes and failures as lessons to be learned from rather than opportunities to beat ourselves up, the more likely we will have the motivation needed to reach our goals.
We all have a concert of voices in our heads. What we say to ourselves matters far more than we may realize, and often we don’t even pay attention to this harsh and self-critical voice.
To access real change, there are struggles and self-limiting beliefs that we have to battle before we can move forward.
Label and define that saboteur voice in your head that shows resistance at the thought of stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Take some time to get clear about where you are and where you want to be. Focus on changing how you think about the things you want to change, which affects the actions you take.
Above all, form new habits and stay accountable to them through strategic alliances with your tribe. Having support in your life can be the difference between success and failure.
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