How to make changes in your life
This week, JOE's life coach John McNamara shows us how to begin to make positive changes in life and more importantly, how to stop from regressing into old habits.
I have noticed a couple of things over the past few weeks that made me smile. Firstly, Facebook changed the layout of their site and secondly my local supermarket changed the layout of their shop. A couple of weeks down the road, most would attest to the fact that both changes were for the better, but at the time this was not the case.
Change in its most minute form causes panic, fear, anxiety and in the case of many Facebook users, near-on Armageddon. You can get so comfortable in your daily routines that the slightest deviation from this appears catastrophic. Perspective and Perception!
There is one thing that is certain in life and that is if you are not willing to make changes, you are going to lead a pretty stagnant and mundane existence. The good news, however, is that making change can be quite easy and fun once you know how.
In my coaching role I facilitate massive changes in people’s lives and with a little patience and persistence you will be amazed at the shifts in behaviour, action and attitude that you can achieve. You are not the first person looking to make changes in their life and you sure aren’t going to be the last. There is a very simple 6 step model that all change follows and once you are aware of it this process becomes a heck of a lot easier.
“Don’t wish it was easier; wish you were tougher”
All change follows this 6 step cycle and once you adhere to each step ,then change in all areas of our lives is within touching distance.
STEP 1 - PRE-CONTEMPLATION
Here things are going along as normal. We are uncomfortable and you are generally unhappy in your current situation.
STEP 2 - CONTEMPLATION
Here you will begin to consciously assess whether change is needed in your life and where. You will also decide here whether change is required or not. If not, the cycle ends for many, but for real change to occur you need to make a firm decision that change is required and you are responsible for this change. Nobody else, only YOU.
“If it’s meant to be; it’s up to me”
STEP 3 - REVIEW
Here you review all the resources available to you and what and whom you will require to implement change. This may take the form of visiting your bank manager, fitness instructor or life coach, etc. Select the pathway along which you wish to travel, the person you wish to become or habit you wish to shake.
STEP 4 – ACTION
Remember it takes 21 days to form a new habit so you MUST stick with it. Be consistent and persistent until you ingrain it in your unconscious behaviour. It will take a small bit of discipline but the rewards are massive.
You must be willing to experience a short period of discomfort if you want to make any change in your life. This is why so many give up and remain stuck. Believe me when I tell you, this period of slight uncertainty and discomfort soon passes.
It is like learning to drive, cycling a bike or swimming. Initially it appears daunting but it soon becomes ingrained and we can do it with our eyes closed (maybe best not to try it with the driving).
“The pain of discipline weighs ounces; the pain of regret weighs tonnes” – Jim Rohn
STEP 5 – REGRESSION
It is inevitable when making change that you will have setbacks and dips in motivation and momentum. This is where many throw in the towel, not realising how close they are to making massive breakthroughs in their life.
We have quite often gotten 90% of the way to success when we pack it in, when one last surge would get us that last 10% and over the line. For the mass populous we tend to believe that we are only 10% along the road and have so much more to go.
If you have a setback, go back to Step 3 and start again You are a lot closer to making the change you desire than you may believe. Have strong enough reasons pre-determined for really sticking at it when the going gets tough.
Change requires some determination; if it didn’t we would all be able to stop smoking at will, learn a new language easily, stop biting our nails or procrastinating and change our negative behaviours in the blink of an eye. Be persistent!
STEP 6 – MAINTENANCE AND CELEBRATION
You must monitor the change and keep up the good work. Once it has formed as a subconscious habit then you should celebrate having made a successful change in your life. Big respect!
Change is something that many of us crave in so many areas of our lives. The above 6 step process will serve you well. In my one to one sessions I also incorporate many of the NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) skills I possess for a much deeper level of change involving neuro associations and patterns.
You should remember to attach huge pain and negativity to the old behaviour or habit that is not serving you and massive positivity and pleasure to the new or desired behaviour. There are a couple of very simple exercises you can start doing to accustom your brain to making change whilst having fun also.
To become more accustomed and comfortable with the process of change you can start with a few very simple daily changes to your regular patterns. These will start breaking simple habits and get you used to making change.
Your morning routine is a great place to start and offers so many opportunities to break patterns. So tomorrow morning I want you to put the opposite sock on first. If you’re a right foot first person, like me, then put your left on first tomorrow. The same with your pants, left or right foot first.
It feels a little strange at first but you will be surprised how fast you can become adept at it. Brush your teeth with the opposite hand, eat your cereal with the other hand also. I will leave shaving out as I don’t want people going into work looking like an extra from Platoon.
Other simple exercises include folding your arms the opposite way with the other hand on top, parking in a different parking space every day, taking a different route to work, or getting into and out of bed on different sides.
There are so many opportunities for us to break the ingrained patterns that we run unconsciously every day. We do these things without even thinking, so challenge yourself to break a few and become adept at making incremental changes, whilst having a bit of fun in the process. Keep it safe though people....
Until next week...
John McNamara's column appears here every Monday on JOE.