This is the time of year when many people talk about change – Big changes, little changes, changes in behavior, changes in attitude. Oh, they don’t often put it in those terms, it’s more likely they’ll talk about making resolutions for the new year.
I’ve seen throughout the years that these resolutions have often fallen by the wayside come February (or mid-January, or even January 32nd). So I wanted to take a look at how to make them last, whether we’re talking about something as small as taking out the trash or as life-changing as finding life balance.
This might seem a bit hokey, but bear with me…let’s take the word “change” and look at characteristics that enable lasting change. To be effective, we want to be:
Consistency is indeed the primary essence of effective change. Getting a new behavior ingrained in our psyche as firmly as possible reduces or eliminates the thought process that could be short-circuited by the many distractions and competing priorities that come or way. I’ll bet you no longer think about clicking that seat belt when you get in your car – it has become second-nature, it’s just what you do. You don’t have to convince yourself it’s for your own safety or you can avoid a ticket, you just do it.
What can honesty have to do with change? It turns out, quite a lot. When I was a kid growing up in New York City, I often heard about how a neighbor or relative had “taken the pledge” (that is, giving up drinking – for a while, anyway) after being berated into it by his wife or priest. Did it last? No way!! So, when you make that decision to change, ask yourself if you truly believe that this is something that YOU see as being beneficial. If you don’t, then how are you going to sustain it? HOWEVER, please consider that if everyone around you is urging you to make a change there is probably something pretty important to consider – take the time to think that through before tossing aside.
Being aggressive about change does not mean accosting smokers on the street (if you’re quitting smoking) or loudly expounding on the evils of gluten while sitting in a restaurant. Aggressively pursuing change is about expending the same energy in pursuit of the new behavior as you did on the unwanted behavior. When I quit drinking years ago I remember being so put off by the effort it took to get to support meetings until someone reminded me that during the previous winter’s snowstorm that shut down all of NYC, I had walked to my favorite bar in the middle of a raging snowstorm, unable to see ten feet in front of me!
So, being consistent in out actions, honest in our intent, and aggressive in our pursuit of change can make an enormous difference.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at filling out the rest of the change profile.
Have a great day.