10 Steps For Making Meaningful Lasting Change
Change is both exciting and scary! I know a lot of people that say “I hate change!” As scary as change can be, it is what helps us grow. If a caterpillar stayed in its cocoon, it would never know the freedom of being a butterfly. Together we can make change more exciting than scary and also enjoy the process as we head towards where we want to be.
In our journey through life, we all have changes that we want to make to live our best life possible. Some of us want to break old habits like quitting smoking or cutting back on foods that make us feel unhealthy. Others want to create new habits like being more active or showing more gratitude. At times we judge ourselves for not being the person that we want to be. However, life is a process and we are always doing the best we can with what we have been given. As the Canadian winter turns into spring, I find myself looking to shake off some old habits that are holding me back and build some new fresh habits. Today I am going to share some strategies for making lasting changes in our lives. Making changes is all about constantly choosing the path that we want to be on. Some days we will lose track and that’s OK! I love travelling and looking at life as an adventure so I used some adventuring analogies to help us remember these tips on how to make changes. These strategies will be your tools to help guide you back to the path that you want to be on.
Let’s make some changes!
1. First, Celebrate Past Accomplishments!
Deciding to make a change is a big deal! Be proud of yourself for recognizing that you want to make some changes. Many of us get stuck and comfortable in our lives and feel like it’s easier to stay put than to venture into the unknown place where change occurs. So give yourself some praise for acknowledging that you are ready to shake things up and that you’re open to change. Before you head off on your journey, celebrate all the things that you are already doing that you are proud of! Even if it is something you do once in a while, give yourself a mental high five for what is already working. Sometimes we get so focus on where we want to be and what we are not happy about that we forget to appreciate how far we have come..
2. Decide On Your Destination + Write It Down
In order to get to where you want to be, you need to know where you are going. Start by writing down all the goals you have for yourself – think both short term and long term. Write it in positive terms and imagine where you see yourself. Really let yourself sink into what you want to feel and experience. At this point don’t worry about the steps you need to get there. Right now you are just picturing your destination. If you were planning to go to the beach you would start by thinking how great it will feel to be at the beach, not all the packing and travelling you need to do to get there. If you focus too much on the process, it might not feel worth it to go to the beach anymore! But trust me, it’s worth it.
We will call your end goal your destination. Write down your destinations and before each one write “I imagine…” If you wanted to go to the beach you would say “I imagine myself enjoying the sunshine and waves at the beach!” not “I hate this city and I want to get out of here.” By focusing on what you are unhappy with right now, you are not able to focus on the possibilities that you can create in your future. example: - I imagine myself being full of energy during the day! - I imagine feeling grateful for my body and the experiences I have in my life! avoid this: - I want to stop feeling so tired and miserable. - I don’t like my body and I feel bored with my life and I’m tired of feeling this way.
Do you notice the difference in your energy and feelings when you read these statements? In order to make lasting changes, we need to keep our vibration energy up!
Extra tips to shift your energy before doing this step:
1. Listen to a song that get you feeling awesome. A couple songs that come to mind for me are: Inner Ninja by Classified, Woman Up by Ashley Roberts, a bunch of 90′s pop and Disney songs. Pick whatever works for you!
If music isn’t your thing, try taking a few deep breaths and eliminating distractions. Get yourself a favourite beverage (tea, wine, cucumber water – whatever suits you!) and commit to just doing this first step. For some people this first step might be all you get done today and that’s totally OK! Come back to the other steps when you’re ready – just make sure you come back to them.
2. Create a vision board to help you visually see what you want for yourself.
3. Map Out Your Path + Figure Out What Is Most Important To Your Joy
So you’ve gotten clear on where you want to end up and now you get to plan out how you are going to get there. Remember that there are many routes to one destination! Think about what your end goal is and what you feel you need to do to get there.When you know the reason why you are heading for a destination, you will feel more energized and motivated to get there. If you want to have more money, why do you want more money? Sometimes we think we want something but really it is so we can have something else. Make sure that what you want is really what is going to serve you in the best way possible. Maybe you want to have more free time. Think about what you want to have more free time for? Are there hobbies you wish you had time for? Do you want to spend more time with friends and family?
Try to break down your goals so that you know what it is about that destination that will bring you joy. When we get at the heart of why we want what we want, we are much more likely to stay motivated and stick to our goals. Also when you break it down you may realize that there are other paths that can help you get to the same destination. This will help you create your map. Keep asking “Why” and “How” until you can’t go any further!
This process can be a little complicated and I’ll include a break down with some examples. If you want more of an explanation please contact me and we can work through the process together!
Examples of different reasons for the same destination/goals:
I want to lose weight > why? > I want to have more energy > why? So I can play with my children and not get tired > Is there anything else I can do to help me reach this destination? > getting more sleep, eating better, being active (all of these will help me have more energy and lose weight)
I want to lose weight > why? > so I can look more attractive > why? > so I can have a better self-esteem > why > so I can attract a partner > is there anything else I can do to help me reach this destination? > become someone I am proud to be (a new destination!) > how? > get involved with activities I enjoy, look after my physical well being, work on being more positive, learn how to open up, be open to having fun more often (all of these can contribute to improved self-esteem)
Your plan for getting to where you want to be will be your path.
After you go through this path mapping out process you may realize that you have another destination in the end. Maybe weight loss isn’t the end goal, but loving yourself or having more energy is. Any information that comes up during this time is useful. Once you have sorted through this process write it down.
Example: My destination – I imagine myself loving my body My path to get to my destination – being more active, using affirmations, eating better, doing a hobby I enjoy
4. Pick Your Landmarks To Keep You On Your Path
When people are setting goals for themselves they often stop at the last part and this is why they get lost along the way and don’t end up where they planned to be. Why is that? Because their path was not clear enough and they had no landmarks to keep them on track.
Being more active is a great goal but what does it mean to be more active? It’s not very clear and there’s no way to really measure if you are doing what you set out to do. It’s important that for each broad goal you have, you break it down into smaller steps. These measurable and clear steps will be your landmarks.
Example: I imagine myself loving my body. (destination) 1. being more active (path to get to the destination) How I will be more active (landmarks to keep you on your path): - go for a walk on my lunch break 3 times week - go for a walk with a friend after work once a week - sign up for a team sport and participate once a week. 2. Using affirmations (path to get to the destination) How I will use affirmations (landmarks to keep you on your path): - pick and affirmation and write it down. “I love and grateful for my body and everything it does for me!” - “ I am strong, fit and vibrant!” - place affirmations where I will see it daily (like the bathroom mirror or at my computer) - Say my affirmation to myself out loud once a day
Notice how for each path way there are clear landmarks/steps that help keep you on track. Pick landmarks that work for you and fit for where you’re at right now. If working out 3 times a week doesn’t seem possible for you at the moment then pick something that feels more attainable. Maybe right now going for a 5 minute walk twice a week makes more sense. Choose something that fits your life but challenges you a little bit. If you make your landmark too hard you will feel discouraged if you can’t do it. If you make your landmark too easy you won’t feel a sense of accomplishment when you do it. Tip: Remember that the journey to your destination is part of the fun! Choose the scenic route for your path and you’ll enjoy the process a lot more. Think about what feels great for you and commit to welcoming those experiences into your life!
5. Tell People About Your Plans
When going on journey, we get excited telling other people where we are headed. Sometimes we can even connect over stories with others who have had a similar journey or who are on the same path. By talking about our plans out loud we also keep ourselves accountable to our plans. Remember that your words have power so be mindful of how your share your plans with others. Get excited, believe in yourself and other will pick up on that!
When someone asks you “what’s new?” instead of saying: “I’m trying to lose some weight.”
say something like: “I’ve been walking outside more often and it feels great! I love that the weather is so warm lately.” Tell people about what you’re already doing and what you plan to be doing. Too often we get stuck in the habit of connecting over our misery. People love to hear about each other’s successes when the sharing is genuine. I say genuine because we don’t want to be telling people about how great we are as a way to compete with others. Making positive changes is about lifting yourself up, not about being better than others. Be careful not to judge others that are not on the same path as you. We are all on our own unique paths! That being said, don’t be afraid to share your successes! While encouraging yourself, you might inspire someone else to do the same.
Sometimes on our journey we might think we need to rush to our destination as fast as possible. We get impatient and want to be there now! We get tired of waiting and sometimes we even criticize ourselves for not making enough progress.
I’m here to tell you that it’s OK to feel that way and even encourage you to move slower some days. There will be days when you are right on track and doing everything right, but other days you will need to use micromovements.
What is a micromovement? I learned about this method from SARK’s book “Juicy Pen Thirsty Paper”. Check out ‘The Micromovement Method: A fun way for busy people to get things done’ to learn more. Basically micromovements are “a little action steps that bring you one step closer to accomplishing your goal. It should take you between 5 seconds and 5 minutes to do.”
Example: Destination: I Imagine myself feeling grateful and connected to my spiritual self. Path: I imagine myself reading books that inspire me. Landmark: I plan to read 5 pages of the book Inspiration by Wayne Dyer every night. Micromovement: Pick up the Inspiration book and open it. That’s it! Easy right? If you do more than that, awesome! If not, great! You still took one step towards your destination. Use micromovements on days where you are struggling to reach your landmarks.
Be kind and loving to yourself! If you had a friend that got off their path a little would you say “Wow! You really screwed up! You’re a failure and you shouldn’t even both trying.” No way! We would never imagine saying that to a friend, but when we get off track we tell ourselves all kinds of nasty things. Instead of going into self-judgement try to catch yourself and say “I forgive myself”. Write it down even! Forgive yourself and remind yourself that you can always choose again. Each moment and every day is an opportunity to choose again.
One of my destinations for myself is imagining being loving and grateful. Recently I said something to a friend that came from a place of anger. I started judging myself and thinking “I’m really not that loving at all! I can’t believe I said that.. I’m terrible.” So what I did is I forgave myself and I apologized to my friend in a loving way. It helps to get vulnerable and soften up a little. We all make mistakes – they are our best teachers! When you notice judgement come up, forgive yourself and choose again.
8. Get Inspired By Others
Surround yourself with inspirational people, pictures, quotes, movies, songs and whatever else works for you! Keep imagining yourself at your destination. Before I travel I look at pictures of where I’m planning to go and I get excited about arriving. This is exactly what we need to do when we are working towards our goals. Watch videos of people that are already where you want to be! If you want to be more positive, read and watch people that talk about being positive. If you want to be in great shape, look up some youtube videos of people being awesome at the gym. Instead of thinking “I wish I could be like that”, tell yourself “I am so excited to become the person I set out to be! I am so inspired by these people!”
tip: Remember that jealousy lowers our vibrational energy and causes us to want to retreat and feel resentful. Allowing ourselves to be inspired by others shifts our energy into wanting to emulate what we admire in others. If you find yourself feeling jealous of others go back to the step 7. about forgiveness and allow yourself to choose again.
9. Talk Positively + Get Grateful
I have mentioned this throughout this article already but it is so important that it needs to be emphasized with its own point. Our words are powerful! What we say becomes our reality. We tend to believe that our emotions rule our thoughts and our thoughts rule our words. Though this may sound true, we have the power to switch the script on our feelings. The words we use can change our thoughts which can then change our feelings. When people ask you “how’s it going?” (which we probably get asked more times a day than we can keep up with) how do you respond? Do you answer “I’m fine” without thinking? Do you focus on the bad parts of your day? Or, can you find something to be grateful for? When we make effort to focus on the positives and actually talk about those great moments out loud, we can change the way we start to feel about our lives. The better we feel, the more likely we are to stick to our goals.
Try this: when people ask you how you are, tell them that you feel great! Pick out something that you are grateful for. Like this: “I feel really good! I love how sunny it is out today” or “I’m good and it’s great to see you!” If you really feel awful and saying you feel great doesn’t feel right to you, you can say “I’m working on making it a great day!” Of course we have bad days and it’s important to allow ourselves to feel low sometimes, but if you more often than not notice yourself saying “I’m ok… pretty tired” or “I can’t wait to get this day over with” then challenge you to switch the script and start trying to shift into gratitude.
10. Praise Yourself + Reevaluate
With all the amazing work you have been doing, you deserve to give yourself some more praise! As always, writing this down and saying it out loud can help give your praise more power.
Whenever you stick to your path, follow your landmarks and do micromovements thank yourself for giving back to you. Sometimes I literally say “good job self!” I know this might sound cheesy, but sometimes we really need to tell ourselves that we are doing a good job and offer a little self-encouragement.
Check in with yourself and see if you are still on the right path. Maybe you need to create some different landmarks and challenge yourself more? Maybe you need a new destination? I like to create new vision boards every few months so I get a visual of what I want for myself.
Remember to have fun creating the life you want for yourself! YOU are the creator of your life and you get to design it the way you want. Don’t just sit back and let life toss you around without your permission. Map out exactly where you want to go so that when you look back you can feel proud of how far you have come!