Do you know what’s the best time of the year to make changes and new beginnings? Any time you are up to it, really! Although January is the month we talk about setting new goals, envisioning ourselves in a better and improved version of who we are, we can start the process of change any time during the year. But sometimes what we talk about in the beginning of the new year remains grandiose plans, perhaps to pick up again next year or goals that vanish into thin air -of our routine.
Often it’s fear of change that doesn’t allow you to go ahead and do all the magnificent things you are dreaming of. Fear is not a good advisor- it may come disguised as the voice of reason, but really, is just that- pure fear of change. It comes in different packages, in small phrases such as “what if I can’t do it?” “Nah, it’s too hard,” “that’s not for me,” “I wasn’t meant for that,” and the like. Combine this fear with the fear of writing down your goals and the steps you commit to taking so that you get there and… voila! The change you fantasize about will never come knocking at your door.
Approach change with a beginner’s mind and an attitude of curiosity
“Why do I want to change?” and “What’s holding me back” are two of the most powerful questions you need to answer to yourself truthfully to discover what’s behind the fact that you haven’t made the desired changes yet. What exactly is it that prevents you from taking that first step forward? Or trips you once you ‘ve taken the first couple of steps forward? Many people are afraid that if they change they won’t be themselves; they will lose a part of their identity if they drop 30 lbs, or find a high paying job, or get a graduate degree, or whatever. Sit back and think what’s holding you back. Then explore the desired change. How would it be? How do you envision it? How would you wear it? Like a borrowed garment or like a tailored-made suit? See, feel, hear, touch, smell, envision the change! Visualize yourself being successful, turning out different yet the same. Familiarize yourself with the new development you envision till it feels good. Then give yourself a generous dose of love and compassion, trust your instincts, and go for what you desire. Don’t let fear dictate your life. Go ahead and change, one small step at a time.
How much do you want this change?
Seriously. Is this change something that’s going to be a metamorphosis of who you are and what your life is about? Is it something more subtle? On a scale of 1-10, one is the least; ten is the most, how much do you desire this change? If you are not hot about it, then it’s going to be a lot harder to change, because you don’t have adequate motivation. A “yeah, I’d like to change” attitude is not enough to produce a lasting effect. But what’s worse is that while on the one hand you are not committed to change, on the other hand, you are going to be bitterly disappointed if you don’t get any results! Start by being sincere with yourself- what do you want and how much do you want it?
If every time you want to set new goals and change your life you start thinking about your “other responsibilities”, then naturally you will tend to them first and leave yourself behind. If you think that going to the gym is wasting time or taking time away from doing something else, if you believe that enrolling in a stimulating course will hold you back from another aspect of your life that you “must” cater to, then your plate is full of responsibilities towards others. What about yourself? What about being responsible for your wellbeing before sacrificing for others? The same way you have responsibilities towards others, you have a primary responsibility to yourself- to invest in yourself, to care for yourself, and make sure that you cover your needs for change and personal growth.
The most mundane, universal and common excuse people come up with when they fear to change is the “I don’t have time.” It would be better to say, “I don’t want to do what it takes to change.” That would be more accurate, and sincere and would save them a lot of heartache. Reality is that we all have the same 24 hours every day. Each of us decides to spend them or invest them in better or worse ways. Be earnest with yourself- if you want to implement these changes, you will find the time, if not, you won’t find the time. One way or the other you are right.
Maybe you are vocal about the changes you want to implement, perhaps you ‘ve already told your friends about how you want to lose weight, start eating healthier, becoming fitter, getting a better job, writing that novel, but… The key is what to say in your internal dialogue. How do you speak to yourself? Do you use, kind, encouraging, optimistic words? Or do you shame and berate yourself for past failures? Do you see there’s hope or do you believe you are “doomed?” Change your internal dialogue, learn to talk to yourself the way you would to a loved one. Be kind, supportive, encouraging to yourself and reward verbally every little step. Learn to celebrate small successes and keep going!
Change your core belief
To change your ways and behavior, you need to change first your core belief about change; this core belief that’s in the back of your mind, that can be found in a corner of your soul. You need to change that core belief into something positive, reassuring, hopeful, and encouraging, into a powerful motto that says “I am worth it and I can do it.” If you keep self-sabotaging with a negative core belief, with an “I cannot do it/I don’t deserve it” attitude, then you are going to remain trapped in your old ways, chained in old, unproductive and unhelpful habits. You matter, and you deserve to be the best version of yourself!
Think of a role model
Think of a person who went through some positive change, who set goals, went after them and made it. Who’s this person? What are their characteristics? What was the before and after? Can you talk to them? Find out more about their process of thinking, their motivation, their insecurities, their convictions, their plan? Have them go over their journey. If you can’t talk with them just observe them and give your answers to the above questions. Trust yourself. They did it. You can do it. You can always do it. You were born a winner; only you don’t realize it yet! Go ahead, chase your dreams, start with this one small step in the direction that your heart desires!