Undertaking a change in our lives involves, primarily, changing our behaviour.
Here are some ideas for making life changes, based on an understanding of how humans work, and what we often get right and wrong.
1 – HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE
It is natural, default human behaviour to look outside ourselves for accountability. Something goes wrong, and we blame the weather, a partner, a family member, a political party… the list is endless.
However, those who are best able to make changes, look to themselves first and foremost. After all, your own mind and body are the only things you can really control directly.
2 – MODIFY YOUR ROUTINE
Humans, despite wanting to seem free, are actually extreme creatures of habit, resorting to similar actions, a similar times, in similar contexts. This is why holidays feel different. In a different culture, time zone, and context, we find our behaviour changing more easily, and can escape our routine.
Those who are best able to make changes, make clear changes to their diaries. They do not hope for magical change, they schedule change, commit to a new timetable, and therefore get new behaviour. Your changes don’t need to be extreme, but they do need to stick.
3 – ASSUME THERE WILL BE BAD TIMES
Humans are quite optimistic and short term about their desired changes. In counselling relationships, it is common for a client to gain an early wish for change, only to find that life rebounds on them, and change is not as easy as all that.
Those who are good at making changes, accept that the changed life will have almost as many down sides as the old life. They know that they are not moving from a hell to an ideal. They are simply shifting priorities. It can take years for changes to bed in. A good dose of realism helps enormously.
4 – MEASURE YOUR RESULTS
Humans are show-offs. We love to show to other people evidence of our ability to transform. Hence the way we dress up, broadcast our good news, and kind of overdo the PR on our successes. The problem is, when we advertise ourselves like that, we are massaging our own egos, and not really holding ourselves to account.
Good change-makers set key performance indicators, and measure them. Good dieters manage themselves ruthlessly to a target weight, shape or health standard. Good home decorators set firm design plans and firm timetables, and then keep themselves aware and accountable for seeing changes through. Even good meditators watch themselves to make sure that good results ensue.
5 – KNOW YOURSELF
Humans are, unfortunately, self-deceivers sometimes. We tell everyone we want to do something, but in private we would much rather lay around making life easy.
Good change-makers are self-aware. They watch themselves for consistency between what they say and what they do. They modify what they say to be realistic to their weaker nature; and grapple with that weaker nature in constructive ways to make action more likely.
If you want your behaviour to stay the same, then:
Keep your routine the same
Make occasional over-optimistic stabs at success
Whatever you do, avoid measuring your progress in objective terms
Talk the talk, even if you don’t walk the walk
Hold yourself accountable
Modify your routine
Assume there will be bad times
Measure your results