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Creating lasting change is something many of us find difficult. If it was easy, none of us would ever fail to lose weight, or keep smoking despite wanting to give it up, nor would we continue to have disastrous relationships, to work too hard, or continue to make New Year’s resolutions and then fail to keep them.
How often have you decided you need to do something to change your life?
To go on a diet, meet more people, give up listening to that negative voice in your head which is constantly nagging or cut down on your work commitments.
Yet how often do you find yourself opening the biscuit barrel or booking another work appointment almost immediately?
Having eaten the biscuit or had another cigarette after making the decision to give up and rather than stop at one found yourself thinking I’ve broken my resolution so I might as well have another…….?
Have you ever wondered why it is that so many people make new year’s resolutions and by the second week of January they already a distant memory.
Creating lasting change is so much easier if you stick to the principles outlined below.
1) Be clear about what you want to change and why?
Understand what is going well in your life. What is it you want more of?
What is it you hate about your life and want you want to change?
What difference would the change make to your life if you achieved it?
What is the cost to the quality of your life if you don’t?
The clearer you are the easier it will be to plan the change but even more important is the why!
Is it your why? Or are you trying to please other people
The most dramatic changes happen when “shoulds” and “musts” become I choose to do this because it is really important to me!.
2) Believe it is possible to make the change.
Think about other examples within your life when you have succeeded in changing something.
Many of the changes seemed impossible – yet you did it. You have absolute evidence that you are capable.
If you can succeed in one area then there is nothing to stop you achieving in another other than your belief that it is possible.
3) Set clear, specific goals.
The more specific you are about what it is you want to change the easier it is to plan how to do it and to measure your success once you have achieved it.
It is really common to over- estimate what we can do in a day or a week but under-estimate what we can do over a longer period of time.
That is particularly true of losing weight.
4) Imagine Your Success is already a reality.
Imagine yourself at a time in the future when you have succeeded in making the change.
See the outcomes of your success.
If you want to loose weight see the slim and healthy you enjoying trying on a whole new wardrobe.
Enjoy feeling healthy, full of energy and feeling good about yourself.
See the admiring glances as you walk down the road.
Think about what difference the change is making to your life?
How do you feel about the fact you have succeeded?
As you visualize it (at night just before you go to sleep is a great time to do this) use each of your senses to create as detailed experience as you can.
Research had shown that people who create a sense of success while they are working towards it actually succeed much more easily.
It is now regularly used by top sportsmen and women, by performers and top business people. If it works for them why not give yourself the same opportunity.
Remember nothing succeeds like success. Use your past and present success to help you know you can make any future change and succeed at that.
5) You get what you focus on.
If you want a brilliant relationship but you only focus on work or financial success you are much less likely to achieve a brilliant relationship.
Set aside time and energy to make things happen in the area of your life you want to change..
The decisions you make will be very different if you focus on failing or on how you can achieve success.
6) Take action
If you always do what you have always done you will always get what you have now.
Nothing will change unless you make the decision to do things differently. Any change needs to become embedded and part of our daily lives if it is to make any sustained impact.
Many of us do the single grand gesture and then loose interest.
It is the small actions taken consistently which make a sustained difference to our lives.
7) Ask for help
We have no hesitation in calling for a car mechanic or heating engineer when we want to sort our car or our heating system out yet when we want to make fundamental changes to our lives we often try to do it alone.
Work with a coach, a personal trainer or mentor.
They can help you clarify your thinking, set goals, plan how to achieve them and hold you accountable for the choices you make.
If you think it too expensive think of the cost to the quality of your life of not achieving your desired outcome.
Consider the cost as an investment.
8) Surround yourself with positive people
If you want to give up something, drinking, smoking you will find it easier to spend time with people who do not smoke or drink heavily.
If you want to do something well, look for those who are masters of it. Watch and listen carefully. What is their approach, how does it differ from yours. Is it a question of technique or one of sustained activity or a mixture of both?
Seek those who have already achieved what you are wanting to do or be and model their behaviours.
9) Maintain the pace
What action can you take today which will start you on your journey to success?
Remember even the longest journeys start with the first step.
Where do you want to be in 4 weeks time? In three months? By the end of the year?
Set milestones so you can measure your progress.
Make them achievable but with a level of challenge.
One thing is absolutely vital. If you experience a set back recalibrate your milestones rather than give up.
So many people start out at the gym wanting to get fit. They go a few times but quickly become disillusioned and give up.
If you fall off the wagon during the day – don’t give up. Rather than think “Oh well I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb” and then finish the cake, the bottle of wine or packet of cigarettes. Start afresh straight away.
Instead of saying I’ll start the diet again on Monday and eating lots of fattening things over the weekend if you eat a big piece of cake adjust your eating for the rest of THAT day. You’ll begin the next day feeling better about yourself.
10) Celebrate your success
Celebrate each small victory. (Create celebrations which support rather than work against your goal. If you want to loose weight eating a cream cake is not a useful reward). Remember that positive reinforcement is a powerful motivator.
Think about the future and the changes you want to make.
Don’t wait for Monday or January 1st.
Every day is the start of the rest of your life! so don’t let the date stop you from making a resolution to improve your life.