When we first decide to make positive changes in our lives, we usually underestimate the amount of effort it will take. It’s easy to dream and imagine a better life, but we also need to give form to our thoughts with decisive action. And that’s where most of us get stuck.
Imagine that you wanted to build a house, and think about the process that needs to be put into place. You’d need to conceive the idea, buy land, draw up plans, order materials, hire professionals to do the tasks you can’t, and finally, begin building the house. If you got as far as purchasing the materials and then sat there waiting for them to magically form themselves into a house, you’d be waiting a long time!
We need to use the same process to “build” the lives we want. We need to be clear on what we want (conceive the idea), draw up plans (set goals), and then take action to form our desires in the physical.
What most of us do, however, is say we want to change, but then act in ways that contradict that desire. There can be many reasons for this, such as the lure of old habits, fear, or low self-worth. Until we resolve the underlying issues, we will keep sabotaging our efforts to change.
If this describes you, and you’ve been struggling to make positive changes in your life and you just can’t seem to do it, here is a 3-step plan to help you break through any walls that may be holding you back:
1) Identify and remove blockages. If you consistently avoid taking the actions that will bring about positive change in your life, there is likely something holding you back. It may be an old belief that you’re not worthy of a happy life, or fear that you won’t be able to handle the new circumstances, or just plain old resistance to change.
If you take some time to explore these feelings, you will be able to work through any limiting beliefs or fears. In fact, don’t be surprised if you discover something about yourself that you never knew existed. You can explore your feelings by either writing them out, or speaking them aloud. You might start off with a prompt such as, “I feel afraid of . . .” or “I feel safe with my life the way it is because . . .” Allow your answers to come freely, and work on changing any thoughts or beliefs that will continue to hold you back.
2) Form decisive action steps. Another reason you might resist change is feeling unsure about the actions you need to take to bring it about. If you make a list of very specific steps that you can take daily, you will have a clear roadmap to the outcome you are trying to create. Think about the outcome, and then decide exactly which actions will bring you closer to it. Write them down and review them several times a day to be sure you are on the right track.
3) Make the right decisions. Adapting to change requires consistent decision-making. When you decide to quit smoking, you don’t make that decision just once and be done with it. You need to make that decision over and over again as the cravings arise, until you no longer desire to smoke. If you decide to exercise every day, you will need to make that decision again each day, day after day, week after week – even if you don’t feel like exercising initially. The same process applies to any changes you are trying to make in your life. Moment to moment, you need to choose the actions that will result in what you are trying to create. In order to do this, you may need to develop a deeper level of awareness about your own actions, especially if you find yourself automatically gravitating toward unproductive actions.
Remember that improvement is a process, and it takes consistent effort and focus. The good news is that once we begin the process, it gets easier every time we choose the right actions. Moment to moment, we do have the power to choose. If we take our time and enjoy the journey, we can’t fail.