How can I change?

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Change is not always as dramatic as the emergence of a butterfly.  It can take time, patience and focus.  Photo by Justin DoCanto on Unsplash

I spend part of my week helping small businesses to grow.  One thing I constantly notice is that making changes to a business can be slow work.  I also spend part of my week counselling clients in a psychological setting.  I notice the same thing.

This is a brief discussion of why we may be slow to change, and what we can do about it.

OUR HUMAN HABITS

Our bodies are dependent upon developing a set of habits.  Our breathing, our movement, and several other functions, we can do, in our usual way, without really thinking about it.  This is necessary in order to clear our minds for higher things, such as being nice to other people!  But it can cause problems when we want to change.

When we change, we are choosing to restructure quite a deep system of habit.  Stroke victims can tell you all about it.  Often, after a stroke, the body has to relearn simple activities, and it requires huge effort and resources to do so.

What can we do about this?  I think the most important thing is: when you are trying to change, admit to yourself that even the smallest change requires a lot of effort, and a significant transformation.  For example, if you are dieting to lose weight, then the repercussions on the way you live your day, and channel your energy, can initially be quite heavy.

A FEW DOS AND DONTS

  1. Don’t spend for ever preparing, or you may never get round to changing your habits.  Jump in, and see how the water feels.
  2. Do communicate with others about your changes.  That way you can learn from others’ experience, and are better prepared.
  3. Do focus on one thing at a time.  If you need to cut costs, start with focusing on one particular regular bill and analyse it.
  4. Don’t expect miracles.  They can happen, but most change feels difficult, and temporarily like wading through mud.  This is normal.
  5. Do repeat, repeat, repeat.  Learning a new language involves repetition more than anything else.  New ways of living are the same.
AN EXERCISE

  • Focus on one thing you would like to change about your life
  • Focus further in on one aspect of it that can make an initial difference
  • After a bit of discussion with others, try to make a start on changing
  • Repeat your efforts over a period of several days
If the change doesn’t catch, try to analyse why.  If it does, then embed it in your life, and find another small change to focus on.

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SUMMARY

Changing yourself or your business can be slow work.

This is partly because we humans are creatures of embedded habits, and it requires effort to change them.

Tips for changing include:

  1. Jump in and try
  2. Communicate with others
  3. Focus one thing at a time
  4. Don’t expect miracles
  5. Repeat, repeat, repeat
This is not to say change can never be fast – of course it can!

But people who are best at change, are always focusing on some small aspect of their habits, and trying to improve that.  This is in sympathy with how the human body works, and is pretty sensible.

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