Positive change is something we all want. But, change can be intimidating. So feeling uneasy about change is natural, regardless of the nature of the change. By default we find ourselves stuck in thinking about what we don’t want instead of focusing on what we do want. This is the trap.
What is your track record for falling back into old habits or not reaching your goals? Or thinking about changing but never doing anything about it? I bet you don’t have enough fingers and toes to count them, right? Same here.
Significant and consistent effort is required to create lasting positive change. But, taking the first step to change often fills us with dread and anxiety. But why?
WHICH WOLF ARE YOU FEEDING?
We are motivated by 2 powerful forces: the avoidance of pain or the pursuit of pleasure. However, our need to avoid pain is more powerful than pursuing pleasure. When I refer to pain, it includes emotional and psychological discomfort.
Our ego is the protector of our identity. Consequently any “threat” to the identity – perceived or real – results in the preservation mode setting which avoids the threat or pain. This manifests as fear (of rejection, embarrassment, etc), abstinence, procrastination, anger, aggression, etc. These responses are summoned to maintain the status quo which leads to inaction or action.
The other motivator – pursuit of pleasure – is driven by our inner beings. The core of who we are. It’s purpose is to seek and pursue growth and purpose. But the ego has a very strong pull as it is directly linked to our survival as humans. However, it is up to us to feed the wolf that we believe should drive our growth and expansion as human beings. Yes, it may be easier to remain in our comfort zones, but it’s far more liberating to embrace our inner being – who we truly are – and expand beyond our comfort zones. Once you are aware of which wolf you are feeding, these 3 keys will help you create positive change in your life.
3 KEYS FOR CREATING LASTING CHANGE
- understanding what’s important to you (your commitment and level of readiness)
- knowing what is inhibiting you (the beliefs/assumptions, values and rules)
- understanding the change process: plan, implement, manage and sustain change
An understanding of these components will help you identify the steps that you need to take to ascend to the next level of your growth. I view personal change as outgrowing our thought patterns, behaviours and beliefs that inhibit us from being who we truly want to be. Each of these keys is addressed in separate posts. Let’s take a closer look at the first key to creating positive change.
What’s important: your “why” for positive change
By understanding what’s important to you, the choices and decisions required for change will be clear. It also depends on your willingness to step outside your comfort zone. Maybe you want to start a new career, lose weight, stop smoking or start exercising. Whatever the change is, be sure you understand why you want to make the change.
To illustrate by way of example: recently a client who had struggled for 15 years to implement a change in her life, broke through that barrier. She uncovered the importance of the change and really took the consequences seriously. Basically, she rather pursued the pleasure of a healthy lifestyle and enjoyment with her family. As opposed to “the pain” of implementing the changes required to get there. The changes she implemented didn’t only impact her, but her family as well. So by framing her “why” in the positive (pursuit of pleasure) and really internalising her “why” for the change, it has become a habit.
Take a moment to think about a time in your life when you made a successful change or developed a new habit. What was your motivation for the change? How about your attitude at the time? What obstacles or barriers did you have to overcome? Your level of readiness to change and breach your comfort zone, will determine how successful you are. With the successful change, which wolf were you feeding?
SUPPORT IS IMPORTANT
Also, it is a good idea for you to surround yourself with other people who have similar goals. This support system can add more motivation, and can provide even more ideas which will help you reach your goal. Don’t forget that you have your own powerful internal resources at your disposal. This includes your determination, confidence and more. Keep the end goal in sight – a focus point on your horizon and just keep trying and not give up.
To illustrate: since lockdown in 2020, my activity levels have not been optimal. This has resulted in a few health concerns. So, I have started moving again and my strategy is as follows: my fitbit is set to alert me 3mins before every hour to move. So I walk in my driveway for those 3mins every hour. This translates into roughly 25mins of walking throughout my workday. Every week I increase this by 1-2 mins until I reach my desired step quota per day. I am really enjoying the walking and our dog trots along on these walks. So instead of tackling a full 20-30min walk at first, I build it up and ease myself into it. I am focusing on the pleasure of these micro walks and find that I walk longer than 3mins. My back, hips and mind thank me for it and I thank the endorphins and my “why” for it. My why? A happy, healthy body and lifestyle.
If you could use some extra motivation, a personal life coach can help you. They can help you uncover what is important to you, why it’s important to you and what your growth inhibitors are. I’m not suggesting that a life coach offers a magic fix, it’s entirely within your power to create positive change in your life.
Understanding what is important to you and why is the foundation for creating positive change. Also, the awareness of which wolf you are feeding is very important in helping you focus. Through our thoughts, choices and behaviours, we create the effects in our lives. In addition, appreciating where you are in your life right now, helps to create a positive mental attitude. This attitude can help to move you in the right direction quicker.
The next key that I will discuss is “knowing what is inhibiting your growth”. To create lasting change we need to uncover the hidden beliefs that inhibit us from making lasting changes. This will allow these obstructions to become visible so we can discard or reframe them.
SOME EXTRA HELP
If you are unclear about what is important to you or what your goal is, take a look at each area of your life. This may include: family, friends, health, career, finances, physical location, hobbies, and your relationships. You can begin by determining on a scale of one to ten (ten being best) how you feel about each of those areas of your life. After you determine which area has the lowest number, you can then think about what you can do to make that area a “ten”. You might find this article useful. Once you have determined what your goal is, you can begin to focus on determining what steps you need to take to get there.
I would love to hear what your motivation strategies and/or challenges are with changes that you are making in your life.