“If you want to experience new or different results, you must be willing to do something different”. I am not sure who to credit for this quote, but I have heard variations of it throughout my life and it has always stuck with me.
Similar to exercise and nutrition, if we want to see changes in our bodies and health, we have to do things differently. We have to be dedicated to a new routine, become fully conscious of what we eat, and sometimes the hardest part (well at least for me) is to exercise on a regular basis. But, step by step, I am working on changing my current exercise and nutrition lifestyle.
This post is not about exercise and I am not a fitness guru. The point made through the example on exercise and nutrition applies to many areas of our lives. If we want to experience a change, we have to be prepared to change what we are currently doing. Sometimes the changes necessary are easy, and other times it is a lifestyle overhaul. Either way, to experience change we have to make a change.
If you want a new job, you may need to go back to school or obtain some additional training. You will most certainly have to search for new jobs and endure completing applications and if you are selected, the interview process. Along the way it is likely that you will experience some rejection, but quitting will not result in a career change. In fact, quitting will keep you doing the same thing, and working in the same place, or unemployed altogether.
Let’s remove it from the context of employment by saying: quitting will keep you in the same mental, emotional, or physical state of health.
Relationships are another universal example. If you are unhappy with your current relationship (or whatever your situation may be) then it is time to make a change. It may be quite painful to finally decide to close the door, say goodbye, and take necessary steps to dissolve the relationship, but this is the only way it will end. Similarly, if you are in a good relationship you must maintain it. You cannot expect it to be great by doing all of the same things you have been doing for years. You have to work at it, change up the routine and interactions a bit.
The main point is: whatever you want to change, be prepared to take action and do something different!
If you have been thinking about making some major changes in your life, here are 7 suggestions to help you reach results, which could be applied to any challenge:
- Be prepared to endure. Easy should not always be an expectation. Instead, trick yourself a little bit: expect a serious challenge along with your change, and then if it is easier than expected, you will not be disappointed. But if it turns out to be very difficult, you will also not be disappointed, and may find yourself even more prepared to endure the inevitable and reach your goal. Our expectations for anything we experience set the stage for our mental and emotional responses. If we are reasonable, our responses will more than likely match.
- When you feel the need to quit making an effort, reevaluate the situation. What is it that is causing your desire to quit? Are you doing or making too many changes at once? Are you feeling isolated and need support (see #6)? It is completely natural to get frustrated with anything we experience in life, but if our frustration is allowed to control us, it will always win. When in doubt, see #1 and check in with your expectations. Are you being realistic?
- It’s always one day at a time. Progress is more often a marathon, versus a sprint. As humans, we mostly want instant results: want to feel or look better after only a few changes, want to experience happiness based on one event, ultimately we expect instant results no matter what we experience. Let’s be real here, change is not always designed like this, especially the changes we initiate. We have to take it all one day at a time, and refuse to be defeated even when it appears that we are doing all we can but not seeing results at the pace we would prefer.
- Watch out for setbacks. Guess what? We will stumble along our path of change. We may miss a workout, or eat food that is not good for us. We might be fed up filling out job applications, so we quit applying, and later find out a job that was perfect for us has now passed us by. We may go back to familiar relationships out of fear. When these examples and many other things happen, its time to acknowledge the setback but do not allow it to paralyze us. Get up and get back to it. DO NOT stay stuck in the setback or make it a new pattern. Remind yourself of the change you desire and relocate your motivation.
- Mistakes will happen, just get back up. Similar to facing setbacks, remember that you are a human being, and that human beings are NOT perfect. Do not hold yourself or your progress up against anyone else’s, or their standards. Keep your expectations in check: expect mistakes so that you are not shocked when they occur. Note here: WHEN they occur, not IF. Similar to #1, if you mentally expect to make some mistakes, it will be easier to brush them off and just get back up! Do not deceive yourself, progress takes time and mistakes WILL occur.
- Surround yourself by supporters, not enablers. I am a firm believer in surrounding ourselves by people who really want the best for us. If we are hanging around people who do not believe in our goals, discourage us, or make us feel stupid for even wanting change, it affects our motivation. It doesn’t matter how mentally strong you may believe you are, if your inner circle of people can be described as enablers, complainers, gossipers, and drama-filled, it will have a negative impact on you. Get some new friends, and if your family members are the ones holding you back, it’s ok to keep your goals of change to yourself. Everyone does not deserve to know what’s going on in your heart and mind. Let them just see the change instead of including them in the process.
- Progress is a process. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Change is part of life, and it’s a process to either accept it when we didn’t ask for it, or make the necessary change occur when we do want it. There are many “get-it-done” quick schemes out there and they often deceive us into thinking that if we just do this “one little thing” then our lives will be perfect! Exercise extreme caution in these situations, because this mentality can cause us more frustration than allowing the progress of change to follow the proper process.
Fear can paralyze this entire process. If we allow the fear of change to stop us from making needed changes or adapting to our circumstances in a positive manner, life will be much more difficult than it needs to be. Doing something new means that we are doing something different, and this is not always easy, but it is part of navigating through our life experiences.
It is important that we do not beat ourselves up during this process. Our mind and bodies naturally fight change, so it is no surprise that change = challenge. There is a fine balance between fighting change and approaching it in a healthy way, and sometimes it may seem like we are doing both (as strange as that may sound). Remember that this will definitely not be the last change you will encounter, and that everyone is facing a challenging change.
Learn to embrace the change process and watch change occur!