Having difficulty making a change and sticking to it? Or unsure of where and how to start the process of change? Here are three things you need to consider to make the change stick for good!
Have you ever tried to make a change in your life? Of course, you have! We all have. Life is made up of changes and transitions. Some changes we like such a promotions at work or moving into a your beautiful dream house (like the fixed-up Fixer Upper houses where it is perfectly designed for you by good ol' Chip and Joanna Gaines.) These changes still involve work and transition but they are moving us toward what we imagine our lives to look like, what we envisioned them being when we were young and full of dreams.
Other changes, however, we aren't big fans of. Like when you put on that pair of jeans and you can't button it anymore, or when you see a picture of yourself and you wonder how did that happen? Or when, instead of playing with the kids at the park, you sit on the bench and watch because you know you'll just get out of breath and have to sit back down anyway. These changes suck! And they are hard. There's no getting around that.
It's tough when we take an objective look at our lives and we are not the person that we imagined or the person that we want to be.
Or when the picture we have of ourselves on the inside isn't reflected in the mirror we see in front of us. What do we do then?
If you're like most people when you are wanting to make a change, you try to change everything at one time. You cut out the alcohol and the soda. You stop eating fast food, and start piling your plate with mounds of veggies and salad. You start hitting the gym five times per week and leave a sweaty pool of your determination and commitment on the gym floor. And these are all good things! But sometimes we can't do all the good things all at once, or all at once we can find ourselves back on the couch in front of the TV pounding some Cool Ranch Doritos with a case of Mountain Dew to wash it down.
Why is that? You had such good intentions and you were committed to the long haul but then you found yourself back where you started. What gives?
In the New York Times Best Seller book "Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard" author Chip Heath breaks down the process of change into three separate parts. He does this by comparing change to a rider on an elephant on a path. The rider represents the logical "thinky" part of our brain. The elephant represents the emotional part of us; the instinctive "I do what I want" part of us. Then we have the path that they are traveling on. This represents the environment that surrounds us everyday.
So in order to change we have to address each of these areas. The rider is planning and focusing on the future of how to logically make and implement a change. The elephant is all about habits and routines and can be a stick in the mud when it comes to doing things differently. So if the elephant wants to rampage off the path into the forest of Halloween candy and pumpkin pie, the logical rider usually tumbles off and ends in the mud, especially when the environment is full of halloween candy and pumpkin pies.
"Direct the Rider. Motivate the Elephant. Shape the Path" (Chip Heath)
How we do that? We will get into more of that next week especially in relation to the emotional elephant, but here are three things you can do in each of these areas.
1. Direct the Rider
Since the Rider is all about knowledge and understanding it is important to know about the change that we are making. We need to understand where we are going and how to get there. But, a word of caution, a lot of times our change efforts get stalled because we research and gather information about differing opinions and schools of thought and we never actually implement and take action on what we have learned. "Knowledge does not change behavior. We have all encountered crazy shrinks and obese doctors and divorced marriage counselors." (Chip Heath). So learn about what you need to do to change but don't stop there, take action!
2. Motivate the elephant
We will get into this in greater depth next week but the first step in motivating the elephant is actually self awareness. When you have an urge to do something begin with the assumption that some thought, belief, or emotion is driving that urge. Ask yourself what am I thinking right now and what am I feeling right now? This can give you insight into where that urge is coming from and how to appropriately handle the thought or emotion.
3. Shape the Path
This can be a huge aspect of our success or failure. If we are constantly surrounded by things that don't support our goals (whether that is people, the environment, foods that are unhealthy etc) it can be very difficult to be successful. So if you really want to make a change that will last consider doing a kitchen makeover. This is where you go through your house or office and actually get rid of the foods or drinks that you know are not helping you or moving you toward your goals. I know... it's hard and a lot of times you don't want to, but ask yourself is it worth it to sacrifice who I want to be and how I want to feel for the food in front of me? Then decide how committed you are to making change a reality.
"Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal - a commitment to excellence - that will enable you to attain the success you seek." Mario Andretti
Comment below on how you can Direct the Rider. Motivate the Elephant and Shape your own Path.
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