“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
Say you want to make a big change in your life. You want to lose weight, exercise more, stop smoking, step away from your technology. You really want this change. I mean you really really want to make this change! You’re motivated. You’re convinced! You make plans. You reach out for support. You can see your new life. You can taste it! You really want it!!
Two weeks into your really big change, you start to wobble. You remind yourself of all of the reasons you wanted to make that change. You start to feel bad about yourself. You’re afraid you’re going to fail. You double down, white knuckle it, push harder, try to will yourself into that change.
It almost never works. More than 90% of the time you will stop striving for that goal. Most people will get discouraged, feel like a failure and start doing worse with the behavior they wanted to change.
You are very likely to think that you failed your goal.
You would be wrong.
So what works, Tiffany?!?!?!?!
In order to achieve lasting change, we have to understand how our brains work; all three of them. (If that last bit is confusing, click here.) It would be lovely if the convictions of our linearly logical cerebral brains were enough to make lasting changes. “I don’t want to do this. I want to do that.” Boom! Mischief managed. I now do the other thing.
Entire industries would completely collapse if this was how humans actually made change. It isn’t.
A process, not an event
For starters, we need to understand that we are going to relate to the change we want to make differently at different times as we move forward. If all our strategies for change are keyed on that elated, committed feeling we have when we first decide to make the change they will inevitably fail. The motivations that were shiny and exciting at first become less and less helpful as we move forward.
We need one strategy to get started, another once we first start out, another for once we are somewhat used to the pattern, and another for when same curveball challenges or temporarily changes the pattern. I’m going to give you the highlights in this blog, and then cover them in more depth in a few consequent blogs. (I promise, it’s a MINI-series!)
BUT I NEED TO CHANGE NOW!
And so… this is your first lesson. As it is with most things, lasting change takes time and patience. Most often when we feel urgent to make change it’s because we feel some level of shame about continuing in our old way.
Shame is a terrible teacher. Shame can motivate us to make temporary change. It fails miserably for long term change and teaches us nothing. In fact, shame can become a vicious and demanding self-perpetuator of a cycle: I shame myself into a change. à I can’t keep doing the change because I skipped over a whole bunch of really important information from inside. à I “fail.” à I feel ashamed that I “failed.” à I shame myself into trying again.
Just, no. You deserve so much better!
If you’re feeling shame over not making the change, that’s where you will want to start. It’s time to become shameless! Click here for more.
Cooperating with ourselves
Shame insists that we are defective as people because of this or that behavior. If we believe that, we can easily fall into approaches to change that go against our natural grain. After all, our natural grain is what got us in the mess to begin with, right? Wrong.
There is nothing defective about you. I’m not saying you’re perfect; I’m saying you’re just human, and humanning is hard. What we DO and who we ARE, are not the same thing.
Changing human behavior is hard. Going with the grain of how we think, going from what is known and moving to what is unknown, works.
So how are we wired?
I will elaborate on each of these in upcoming blogs, but I want to lay them out there for you so that you know what you can look forward to:
- First, all three brains need to be ready. Understanding why we are doing or not doing the thing and making attainable plans to manage those needs in other ways is essential to making lasting change.
- Secondly, we do what is easy. We like to think that those who do the things we have struggled to do are somehow stronger, more disciplined, more able to do those hard, hard things. As it turns out, none of that is true. To initiate a change, we do what’s easy. All of us. The people doing those things? At some point in their lives, for whatever reason (that really isn’t our business,) moving in that direction was easy. Find your easy, as you’ll be well on your way.
- Third, the new behavior needs to become a habit. Well I mean, duh… but there is some “neurosciency” stuff I will share that can help you get there and stay there.
- Last, tying the changed behavior to identity is golden! This is where the donuts I promised in the last blog come in. You’ll just have to wait.
While you wait for the donuts
Or better yet, use the time to revisit the shame part, because that’s the thing that is pushing you from the simple discontent that motivates change, into the OMGHURRYUPALREADYIHAVE TOFIXMENNOOOOWWW!! Trust me – shamelessness works a whole lot better!
See you again here soon!
Are you struggling to make lasting change in your life? Contact Tiffany today. Let’s make a plan!