Now that the new year is fully here, and you’ve had some time to recover from the holidays, I bet you have started to think about something you’d like to modify, eliminate or adjust in your life. Could be about diet, exercise, a job situation, a relationship or your home environment. There is definitely something in the air this time of year that calls for change. While it may be fairly easy to identify what you would like to change, the actual process of change may not be as clear for you. To assist you in your life update endeavors, I offer the following ideas that I have learned about the change process.
First, don’t sabotage the process by taking too big of steps. Set very realistic goals and see how good positive momentum feels. A common goal this time of year is to start a new exercise program. Pick a target that you can comfortably reach the first week. Underpromise, and then surprise yourself by over performing. If your realistic goal is to walk twice a week, and you find you can do it three times, you will be exceeding your expectations. This sets up a much better mindset than setting an unrealistic goal of four times a week, and being disappointed with three walks. Remember, change is a process, not an event. Positive forward motion is what you are looking for.
Second, understand the dynamics of the change process. In my experience and my work with coaching clients, I find life changes that are lasting and meaningful tend to follow a four-step process, namely: noticing what is not working and what needs to be tweaked; gathering information, ideas, and feelings around this aspect of life; setting clear goals or intentions for what you would like to have more, or less, of in your life; and revisiting this area of your life often to see how things are going and to make adjustments. Much like a young plant needs to be tended and nurtured, so do your goals and intentions need your conscious energy, focus, and attention on a consistent basis.
Third and finally, develop a change support system. Don’t try to go it alone. Find someone else looking to make a similar change who can become your change buddy. Share your goals and ask your buddy to check in with you. By creating camaraderie and accountability, you will get where you want to go faster and with a lot more fun.