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5 Steps to Change

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

Guys – I know I’m late with this month’s blog post but I’m standing by watching this unprecedented back-to-school month full of classroom pods, quarantines and talk of approaching lock down. On the one hand, I feel like it is a time for surviving, not thriving. You have every right to focus on just getting through the days right now.

On the other hand, I do keep reminding myself to focus on my circle of influence, on what I can control. And one thing I can control is my own behavior. Worldwide pandemic or not, there are still doable changes I would like to make in my life, habits I’d like to build, things I’d like to do differently. And with our new year coming up, what better time is there to look at a few things that can help us make successful changes.

Step 1 – Awareness

The good news is that if you’ve identified something you would like to change, you’re already on your journey, because awareness of the need for change is the first step. Only 4 more steps to go and you’re there!

Step 2 - Ignite your Motivation

Dig deep into your why – your reason for wanting the change - and leverage it to keep you persevering. Start by asking yourself, “What are the benefits of the change I want to make?” Let’s

say you want to get into bed earlier during the week. What are the benefits of that? To be alert and productive during the day. OK, now keep digging – what are the benefits of being alert and productive – you are less stressed? And what are t

he benefits of that? You have more time to do what you want to do? And the benefits of that? You are happier. When you hit a core value like happiness, peace or security, then you’ve found your why. The trick is reminding yourself of this core value while you are working on making the change. Put a smiley emoji on a phone alarm that tells you to go to bed on time… to remind you that this small step is ultimately for happiness.

Step 3 – Get out your Own Way

Sometimes what holds us back from making successful change is the subconscious benefits we get from keeping the status quo. How does your present behavior serve you? What are the benefits of keeping the status quo? Every action has a positive intention, even if it does not have a positive effect. Staying up late has the positive intention of relaxing in the quiet hours, getting more things done or enjoying time with a partner or the social interaction from social media.

Once you’ve identified how the behavior you want to change serves you, you can start looking at how you can get those same benefits in a more adaptive way. If you are staying up late to relax, can you join a yoga class earlier in the evening instead? Can you go out once a in a while with a friend for coffee to get your social interaction earlier in the day? Find a replacement behavior with similar benefits but with fewer side effects.

Step 4 – Think Progress over Perfection

We are all going to fall off the horse at one stage or another. Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s just part of the journey. Track your progress visually to keep your morale up. Don’t underestimate the power of sticker charts! And never forget the magic of the reset button when you’ve had a bad day or you’ve let yourself down. The sun goes down every day and comes up anew the next day – clean slate.

Step 5 – Celebrate the Small Stuff

Part of the difficulty with making lasting change is that it often takes a long time. It’s normal not to have the staying power to persevere if you have over 10 kg to lose or if you’re a beginner who wants to run a marathon. Break up your long-term goal into smaller stages and reward yourself for reaching each stage. Celebrate every kilo down or every km run.

Author Byron Katie talks about staying in your own business. She puts it beautifully when she says, “There are only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s.

Whose business is it if an earthquake happens? God’s business.

Whose business is it if your neighbor down the street has an ugly lawn? Your neighbor’s business.

Whose business is it if you are angry at your neighbor down the street because he has an ugly lawn? Your business.

Life is simple—it is internal."

When you put yourself in someone else’s business (worry about what s/he should be doing) or worry about what should be God’s business (stress about when will there be a vaccine), there’s no-one there taking care of your business.

So this year, over and above the usual blessings for a sweet and good year, I’m taking some poetic license on the Serenity Prayer. I’m wishing all of us the strength to let go of what’s not our personal business, the courage to focus and make positive changes in our own business and of course, the wisdom to know the difference.

Shana tova umetuka!

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