Change is the only constant in this universe.
We read about it, hear about it and believe it but shy away from even making an attempt to make a change. Personal change can be a very challenging task; but, once accomplished, it can prove to be a prize feather in your proverbial hat of accomplishments. However, just going blindly in the direction of change can never help you achieve your ultimate goals. Whether you are looking to break a habit or developing a new one, studies show that a repetition of specified behaviors for a minimum of three weeks can ingrain the change into your natural routine and qualify for a new habit. Now, at day ‘zero’, three weeks may seem like a long time; but with a focused attitude you can change anything that you want.
This 10-step approach will help you not only to initiate that much needed change, but also to guide you towards its successful completion.
Step 1. Define the change you want in yourself – Just wanting to change is never enough, you must define what exactly it is you want to change. Pointing out the problem area or deciding an aspiration will help you design the whole change process better.
Step 2. Find out the benefits you seek from that change – A change will always have its consequences, some merely life-enriching and some completely life changing. The key is to find out as many benefits linked with the change you wish to make. Knowing all the practical and emotional benefits of the change will motivate you enough to make the effort.
Step 3. Break down the change into multiple activities – For instance, say you want to change your dress size from a 12 to an 8. This would mean a series of activities that you will have to perform regularly to accomplish change. Break down this change into smaller activities such as 1 hour of daily exercise, diet control, minor lifestyle changes, etc. and make it simpler.
Step 4. Give yourself timelines and targets – Defining the when is as important as the what. Always specify to yourself the time duration you need to accomplish a particular change. Be realistic while setting these deadlines; if it is too easy you may lose interest and if it is too tough you may lose heart.
Step 5. Enough planning, time to act – Now that you are clear on what you need to change, why you need to change and by when you expect to see that change in yourself; it is time for some action. Many people just give up the desire to change at the planning stage itself and never factor it into their actual routine. Therefore, they stay at the same point in life wishing for a change and never actually managing it. Always set a starting point for yourself when you will start incorporating all the steps into your routine that will lead up to change. And don’t just set the date, when the day arrives, get going with it.
Step 6. Keep a track of your improvement – Once you start acting on all the steps for change, you need to measure your progress periodically. Breaking habits may take more work than making new ones because the type of positive motivation associated with both actions can vary dramatically. In such a situation, keeping track of your improvement can prove to be a regular dose of motivation and egg you on towards further improvement.
Step 7. Be prepared for disruptions and failures – Always be prepared to face setbacks in your attempt to change. It could be factors like sickness, injuries, peer pressure, lack of immediate results or anything influential enough to shake your beliefs. But you have to remind yourself the reason you sought out this change and reiterate the benefits, this change will bring you. Eventually, you will learn to work your way around disruptions and failures, making your commitment to change that much stronger.
Step 8. Stick with a positive attitude – At many points during the change process you may feel negative about the whole idea of change. The comfort of monotony and the expected will coax you into relapsing into your old self. Judgmental remarks and comments by close ones can corrode your focus and force you into undoing all that you changed. You have to be sure to maintain a positive attitude at this point and continue repeating each step that you defined to achieve your goals. After all, the right attitude can win you half the battle.
Step 9. Reward yourself for small victories – Applied in small increments and repeated on a daily basis, even a big change can eventually become a part of your life. However, you must never forget to reward yourself for all that you accomplish. For every pound you shed, treat yourself with a much desired piece of chocolate. For every month you avoid maxing-out your credit card, give yourself a pat on the back. Reinforcing positive behavior can go a long way in your quest for change.
Step 10. Internalize the change – Every attempt to change starts with a series of activities or mindset that you impose on yourself. You can achieve remarkable success with perseverance and dedication towards repeating all the external actions. But true change cannot happen until it’s internalized. This is also a step which will happen sub-consciously rather than by a conscious effort. So once you have taken the first step in the right direction, stop worrying and let the new change become a true part of yourself.
Changing oneself or changing life can take a lot of energy and time and is not something that will happen overnight. But with a little patience and a lot of grit you can achieve what you set out to do. By making a conscious decision to change, you have already set the wheels of transformation in motion. All you have to do is keep the right attitude, plan every step and act on all your plans. Change will happen for sure!