Most changes we’re looking to make or goals we set are because there's something in our life we're not happy with and want to change. A problem we want to fix.
Unfortunately, we all do things that are not in our best interest. Many of these are habits that unintentionally developed over time. But, do we keep on doing them? Or, do we face our faults and learn from them? Do we allow them to prevent or accelerate our growth? Those choices are ours.
In my previous post, I highlighted some initial steps in gearing up for making a change in how you behave. Now, let’s look at a simple but important method for implementing change, improvement, and growth...permanently! Whether you're looking to lose weight, improve a relationship, make more money,
Assess what needs to change. Awareness is the first step in behavior change. You cannot change what you’re unaware of. So beginning today, go on an awareness adventure by tuning in to the messages you’re telling yourself. Also, become aware of habits that you know are not serving you well.
Here are some questions to get you started:
- What messages are you telling yourself throughout the day…are they positive and in your best interest? Or, is your self-talk self-defeating and undermining your ability and your best self? Is it even true?
- What habits do you do repeatedly that do not serve you (and perhaps others) well? It might be something you say or how you say it. It might be something you do or how you do it.
- What is it others hear you say or see you do? Involve the people in your household or at work – who you know will be supportive - and ask them to provide insights about what they hear you say and do.
- Are you struggling to live up to someone else’s expectations? Are you trying to prove to a parent or partner that you have value and worth? Do you realize that engaging in this type of effort is unproductive, unwarranted, and unjustified?
- Be honest. How does thinking negative thoughts and doing detrimental things benefit you? That’s right, how do they BENEFIT you? Does is give you a way out? Does it provide an excuse for not trying? Does it garner sympathy? Is it safer? Do you realize that behind every self-defeating belief and behavior is a story…a lie you’ve been telling yourself?
- Are there activities that you regularly engage in or people you’re around that drain your energy? Usually this means that you’re operating outside of your strengths. Is there someone else that you can ask to help or a different way to get it done? Or, does it have to be done at all? If it does, how can you limit the amount of time you spend in that space?
- What activities do you do that energize you? It might be playing the piano or other musical instrument, talking to or helping a friend, going for a walk, writing a letter, reading, listening to music, serving others, drawing or painting, planning a vacation, taking a nap, etc. Are you scheduling those things that GIVE you energy into your day on a regular basis?
- Do you unintentionally get sucked into surfing the web or social media sites or watching a show and then feel guilty about the wasted time? Do you need to set up parameters or schedule times for these activities so you can better manage them?
- Do you find yourself in settings or situations or environments that encourage you to engage in behaviors you're trying to avoid? For example, a person who wants to quit smoking goes into a bar, which is a place associated with smoking. Are their similar scenarios that you put yourself in that are self-sabotaging?
- Are you focused and expending energy on trying to change someone else, or working on changing you? Do you know that any effort spent attempting to change someone else in your life is worthless and actually may be counter-productive?
- What messages have you been told by someone else that damaged your spirit and you still believe it? And what unwarranted and unwanted experiences have you had with someone that left a deep-seated mark on your soul?
- What’s one change that, if you made it, would dramatically improve how you think, feel, or function?
As you can see, the discovery or awareness process is just that…a process. It can seem overwhelming. I said at the beginning this step-by-step process is simple, but it will require a desire to change. It will require being open to honest feedback. I will require being vulnerable. And, it will require being plugged-in to the ‘real’ you…realizing that the ‘new’ you is waiting in the wings. It will involve work. It will require you to be intentional.
Allow time to go through the discovery process and write down what you are learning. I’d recommend focusing on this one exercise for a solid week or more, if needed. A common mistake I witness in the people I coach is that they want to skip over this step or don’t take it seriously. Often, it’s because they’re afraid of what they will discover.
But this is a time for complete humility, honesty, and transparency. Staying where you are will only keep you stuck. Take a chance and move beyond your comfort zone. It’s where your future lies.
Next we’ll focus on Phase 2 . . . choosing to change.