Human beings are creatures of constant change. It is not our way to be just one thing, in one place, for all of our time. For some, falling into the unchanging ‘tree-like’ stance can be detrimental to their wellbeing. It is our habits and preferences that can take root and make us immovable. This prevents us from progression in our life and causes stagnation. Breaking free of our roots and moving forward with our lives is not something impossible to accomplish, however. This post will take a look at how we can encourage fresh growth in your life by making the smallest modifications and setting new goals.
Change isn’t always pleasant
It is comfortable to do the same thing over and over again. Patterns and routine are kind to us. We know them and they know us. Moving away from these habits and towards new ones can be difficult because of this.
You will naturally resist any attempt to change your ways. You are so accustomed to them that you may find yourself justifying staying just as you are. Maybe you’ll begin to barter with yourself. Just one more take-away – it’s been a difficult day! Afterwards, we can start the diet tomorrow.
The saying that there is never a better time to start than now is not only true, but we all know it is true too. Our self-justifications that there is always a better time to do things is, actually, rather laughable. There’s a reason we want to make the change, and it is because we are not as happy as we think we will be after the change. But the unknown quantity that exists, and the doubt, make us delay our development.
I’ve experienced this mental barrier personally (just about every time I go to exercise) and must confess I am not always able to break it down. Sometimes I just stop and decide that things will work themselves out in the end: there is no need for me to change.
I’d wager most of us to can point to a recent example where we essentially talked ourselves out of doing something that we originally wanted to do. It begins as us putting things off and finding other things to fill our time. In the end, we push it so far from our thoughts that all notion of it ever being achieved is forgotten.
Deep down we know that change can be positive. If we can improve ourselves, no matter that it might be difficult, I say we should try. Eventually, you will tire of the same old life, day after day. If you wake to find yourself stagnant one day, with your roots firmly planted and no sign of your life progressing, it might be time to take a look at making a change.
Know what to change and what to keep
It’s important to know what you want to change and what you want to keep. It’s also important to realise that trying to change too much will set you up for failure. I’ve written more about this previously in this post.
If we are honest with ourselves, we can often highlight a few areas of our lives we would like to change. It’s good to also recognise those areas that are beneficial to ourselves too. We don’t want to make the mistake of doing away with those, accidentally or otherwise!
Similarly, it might not be worth changing things for the sake of changing them. Don’t fix wasn’t isn’t broken, as they say.
What you need to focus on are those areas which, perhaps suddenly, no longer feel fulfilling. When the same old, same old begins to take its toll, it’s time for an upgrade. A change for the better.
One way of looking at it is by Marie Kondo’ing it. If you aren’t familiar with this author (and Netflix sensation), Marie Kondo advocates for decluttering of possessions by picking up that item and deciding whether it sparks joy within you. If it does, it stays. If it does not, it goes. The same method can be applied to the mental clutter in our brains and also the clutter of our lives and the actions we undertake (or don’t undertake). If getting up an extra hour before work to catch up on social media beforehand isn’t doing it for you anymore, it’s time to stop.
Of course, we must accept also that this is a very personal decision. Everyone has very different lives. Some might seek to stop doing tasks which others want to begin. Identify what is important to you, and want you want to do with your life. If you have made and recorded your goals (whether by resolutions or otherwise), take the time to assess what steps you need to take to make your dreams reality.
It comes down to knowing what works for you, and what doesn’t.
Further, remember that not all changes need to be huge and significant. Sometimes a small change can be very impactful (and more than that, easier to achieve). Many small steps can make up a large one. The art of setting smaller, more readily achievable goals, is something I have written about previously in this post about my 2020 goals.
Aside from making sure you have a strong foundation to build your changes upon (see this post I wrote on the subject), you also need to make sure your goals are SMART.
Chance are you’ve come across this acronym before. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time.
Your goal must be specific otherwise you might not know what you are doing or how to get there. It cannot be too broad and must enable you to be able to take both small and large steps towards its completion.
A measurable goal is one with defined criteria for success. Such as dropping 10lbs in weight, and not something like being beach-body ready (although that is the dream).
The goal must, of course, be achievable. If it isn’t you are likely to become disillusioned and you’ll find that nothing much changed at all. It has to be something you can actually do.
Realistic goals are easier to maintain. It’s important not to make a goal too difficult to complete. Goals shouldn’t be too grand. If they are, perhaps you should consider breaking them down into smaller ones.
Time sensitivity can help get results. Not setting yourself a time limit on when to achieve something by can lead to perpetual procrastination. On the flip side, giving yourself a deadline – such as completing 5 home-made Christmas cards by the start of December – can be a powerful motivator and a way to keep yourself in check.
Things to consider and how often to make changes
As I said at the start, humans are beings of constant change. But it can be important to reflect on the speed of the change sometimes, for the above points. Make sure you always put yourself first, in a loving manner, and take the time to smell the roses.
Small changes might happen all the time, but what about a significant change? This varies from person to person. Those more used to making large changes might feel more comfortable doing so more often, and vice versa.
Be kind to yourself if things take longer than anticipated. Patience can be a reward in itself. Likewise, if you find your goals coming together nicely at a pace quicker than anticipated that does not mean you should rush out to find more goals. Perhaps it would be a good time to sit back and enjoy the moment – you’ve earned it.
There are a few things which you should consider before attempting to make changes in your life. We’ve touched on them already so I’ll just highlight them here:
- Is this change/goal beneficial or fulfilling to me?
- Does it meet my personal standard of significant? Is it worth changing?
- Is it SMART?
- Am I being patient and kind to myself if change is happening slowly?
- Am I appreciating each moment along the way if change is happening quickly?
The most important thing to remember through this process of change is to remember that regardless of whether it is faster or slower change, you are still worthy and deserving of that growth. Become the best version of yourself.
If you have any tips for those wanting to make a change to their life, whether small or large, please share them in the comments below. Shared knowledge can help us all improve.