If we want to thrive, we first need to change. As we head into a new year, full of promise, hope and anticipation, there’s never been a better time to look at how we deal with change so that we can get ready to live our potential in 2017.
The Power of Habit
In his brilliant book, “The Power of Habit”, Charles Duhigg explains that surprisingly, much of our daily behaviour, rather than being driven by conscious decision making, is actually driven by habit.
Habits are made up of three parts;
The behaviour usually has most impact on ourselves or others and is therefore mostly the part we want to change. Once we understand what triggers a habit (the cue) and the reward we get from doing it, we can get to work on the routine/behaviour that we use to achieve that reward.
One of the changes I wanted to make recently was to to be more productive. I found that the amount of time I spent on social media was definitely not helping my productivity!
Awareness was my first step towards changing my habit. The trigger for me to go on social media was usually linked to one of two things:
I was bored with what I was doing.
Something would pop into my head and I’d want to find out about it there and then.
In recognising this trigger, I had the awareness to come off auto pilot and decide on a better behaviour that would give me the same reward, e.g.
“I’m bored, is there something else (more productive) that I can do now, other than get lost on social media?
I’d consciously change tasks or go for a 15 minute walk so I could get a break but do something I enjoyed.
Similarly, when the thought crossed my mind;
“I wonder what X is doing now?”
I’d make a conscious decision to spend another twenty minutes doing the task at hand, set a reminder for twenty minutes later so I could then check whatever it was that I wanted to find out. This way, I had something to look forward to so it acted like an incentive to get the work done.
The reward remained the same, but the behaviour changed and I felt much better about the amount of work I was getting done.
Choosing the right decision and doing it consistently helps it to develop into a habit.
Spend the time to figure out what your triggers and rewards are so you can formulate your personal plan of action for successful change.
Challenge the Resistance
Another key factor in making change work is knowing what to expect. Resistance can be a blocker to change — that voice in your head which says things like:
“You know you’ll never be able to do this right?”
This has never worked before… it won’t work now!”
Resistance shows up when the status quo is being challenged. Its main goal is to hold you back.
The trick is to know it, understand it and label it. For me, resistance comes in the form of backache and neck ache, leading to headaches. It cleverly piggybacks on an existing condition that I have with my neck/back so it’s like a Trojan horse sneaking past the gate keeper! Recognising your “trojan horse” is the first step to being able to manage it. Whether it’s a physical, mental or emotional ailment, see it for what it is; a tactic to keep you right where you are; in your comfort zone, afraid to change, powerless to thrive.
When resistance shows up, I ask myself questions like “What am I afraid of?” “Why am I feeling this way?” or … I tackle the resistance head on so there is no ambiguity about the changes I‘m making.
I make an effort to be kind to myself. I do things that empower me, particularly to prevent back and neck ache from taking hold. These might include using essential oils, regular meditation or getting out for a walk in nature….anything to change my state from feeling anxious to positive. It’s my way of saying;
“Resistance, I know you’re there, but this change is good for me. I need this. I have to say “no” to you so I can keep moving forward”
Throw in some positive self talk to really drive it home:
“I believe in me”
“I am confident, strong and determined”
Positive Self Talk will negate those deep-rooted beliefs that whisper quietly in your mind when the going gets tough;
“You’re not good enough”
“You don’t deserve it”
“You can’t do this”
Using the Right language
The gap that often exists between our success or failure is the language we use, not just with others, but also with ourselves.
If you find yourself blaming others, complaining about why this is happening …ask yourself;
“What good am I doing by complaining?”
The answer is usually…..”not much”.
A great success tactic is to take the energy and focus away from the negative talk and channel it to feed the positivity and grit needed to overcome the challenges of change.
“What do I need to do to overcome this challenge?”
“Who do I need to ask for support?”
Getting into problem solving mode gives you that nudge in the right direction; the confidence and motivation to propel yourself forward in a way that spells “progress”, because that’s what change is all about.
When you create the right habits, get your defences in place against resistance and use positive language to motivate and strengthen your mindset, you will make the positive changes needed to help you thrive. As you thrive, take a moment to feel the success, euphoria and deep satisfaction that comes with the knowledge that;
You are enough.
You deserve this.
You can do this!
Originally published at medium.com