Many people I’ve ran into since starting this blog have commented about what a good place I’m in right now. And it’s true, my life is in a really good place and I feel great. But, it hasn’t always been this way and I fought a long battle to be where I am now.
For so many years, I struggled to change several habits that didn’t serve the person I knew I was. I would stop and start new habits over and over again, and at best I would stick with things for a couple of months, eventually reverting to old habits. Each time I would start with such hope and determination, only to end up back where I started, feeling defeated.
The truth is, I didn’t start to make permanent changes until I began practicing what I am going to teach you here in this article.
Let’s be real, change is uncomfortable and hard. There’s no way around it. New habits and practices are simply things your brain is not used to doing, and therefore it deems them as uncomfortable.
Maybe when you try to change, your mind is past the point of uncomfortable.
Maybe it is screaming at you that your effort isn’t worth the change, or that you’re not good enough or strong enough to make the change. If you’re anything like me, your mind is busy building a never-ending list of arguments why you NEED to go back to old ways.
When we feel such overwhelming amounts of discomfort, this voice in our heads telling us to go back to old ways can be overpowering and downright deafening. In order to be successful, we must rise above this noise to make the uncomfortable, comfortable.
Simply put, all changes begin and end with the mind. I think a lot of us know this at some level, but yet, a lot of us just focus on changing our behavior, not what’s going on in our mind.
I get it. It’s tough to address this and it can even be painful. But, at the end of the day, not changing our mindset is the one and ONLY reason why we don’t stick to new habits.
Fundamentally, there are really only three things you MUST do in order to successfully change for the long term.
1. Cultivate awareness, aka be mindful, aka pay attention – As I’ve stated in many articles past, perfect is the enemy of the good. The goal is never perfection, but progress. When we slip up, pay attention, acknowledge and own the mistake, and learn from it. By paying attention, we can learn when that voice telling us to give up gets the loudest.
2. Uncomfortable is a given, commit to doing the work – We’ve already covered being uncomfortable, but what about “doing the work”? The “work” is prioritizing the action you need to take to get one step closer to that new habit. This might be scheduling time to ensure you practice the new habit or journaling about your “mistakes” and then ensuring you implement the lesson learned from your mistake. Action is a non-negotiable ingredient to success.
3. The Past must be owned and healed – The only way to true, sustainable change, is to heal the root causes of your current habits and thought patterns. This is the hardest part, but the most essential. Best case scenario, we maintain our habits, but we are always struggling and in a battle with our minds. Worst case scenario, we return to our old habits with a vengeance, becoming more entrenched in that habit. You cannot heal your past if you are unwilling to OWN and take responsibility for it. The good news is that by doing #1 and #2, you will begin to notice what those root causes are, and take steps to address them.
That’s it! That’s all you have to do to change your life. Easy, right? Ha.
As with most worthwhile things, this is not a quick fix and is a continual process. By focusing on making these three things your new practice for life, it will ensure that over time, your mind and therefore your habits change permanently.
Did you need to hear this? Chances are, someone else does too. Please share this article! (It’s like my virtual tip jar).
Next article will be about cultivating self-compassion while transforming habits – sign up to subscribe to my list if you don’t want to miss it!
Much love and gratitude,