Have you ever wanted to change something about your life? I don’t know why I’m asking because I know the answer is yes. We all do at some point. If we don’t there’s something wrong.
Now let me ask you this. Does is usually seem hard, if not down right impossible ,to actually do the changing? Again, why did I ask? Whether it’s weight, sadness, financial, time management, cleaning up after yourself (or others), being a pleaser, being too mean, being too nice, what have you, we all could stand improvement. It’s what makes us human.
So what’s the trick? How do we instate change and make things stick? It might seem that we can get out of the gate and make a good start only to slide backwards in time,… to have to start all over again. I know you dieters know what I’m told about. Well, the trick is to start change at a fundamental level before ever trying to conquer that “other” change that you so desperately want. What does this mean?
What this means is to first enable a change in yourself in the areas of will, discipline, understanding, and the restructuring of the meaning of our “rewards”. This sounds like hard stuff ,and it is, but the payoff is that changing things beyond this becomes much easier. Let’s break it down.
1. Will – You have to want it. How bad do you want it? Ask yourself. Bad enough to forego simple pleasures? Bad enough to stop rewarding yourself when you’ve done something well and stop rewarding yourself when you’ve failed and don’t feel good about yourself (negative rewarding)? You have to answer yes to both or this won’t work.
2. Discipline – Can you stop yourself from being weak? Can you push yourself? Come on, you’ve seen Biggest Loser. You have to push harder to get results, no matter what you’re trying to achieve.
3. Understanding – This is a big one. You have to understand that you will lose your “will”. You will have weak moments in your discipline. You will lack moments of clarity and judgement. And when this happens, any one of them, you are in danger of slipping back to where you don’t want to be. You have to be prepared for these moments and “understand” that they are going to happen. You have to expect them and when they arise, acknowledge them and react accordingly by invoking 1. and 2.
4. Reward restructuring. Another big one. You’ve had a life of habit with things that bring you comfort. They work for you (or at least you think they do) and habits are oh so hard to break. The truth is, to break habits you need to replace the bad ones with better ones. This is why those with unhealthy lifestyles might end up being fitness freaks. They’ve traded the bad for the good. It’s a tried and true technique that really works and once you’ve made the change and it feels so much better. Remember, you need to come up with a replacement “good” habit for your bad ones. Hard to do -yes. But it is required. One example that I like to use is a simple cookie. A cookie tastes great and always will, but the after effects of guilt (dieting is this example but you can find a “cookie” in almost any scenario) can make the quick reward of the cookie not worth it. You have to be able to look beyond the quick fix of the cookie and see the negative effects of the “later on” guilt and let it drive you. Conversely, eating healthy and foregoing the cookie will provide the after effect of success and self esteem and confidence and so on and so on. learn to look ahead in your consequences so as to drive a better “now”.
So the break down of the four steps does seem daunting I know. But change does not and will NEVER come easy. Just keep these guidelines in mind if you ever want to get serious.