Let’s take a look at the second, but by no means, less important half.
To recap, when we are being effective at creating change in our lives, we are:
Yesterday we looked at the first half – consistency, honesty, and being aggressive in our pursuit of change, so let’s see how important the remaining characteristics can be.
If we do not perceive a need being fulfilled by change we are rarely going to be capable of maintaining that change. Let’s be clear about something here – fear is NOT going to sustain change. If you’re trying to train your puppy to sit quietly when he meets someone new instead of jumping all over them, you certainly could whack him on the head every time he jumps and his fear of being hit will keep him in check but only so long as he believes you can whack him (or until he gets used to it and doesn’t really mind it as much). Just for the record, I am NOT suggesting this is an acceptable way to train your puppy, so please don’t be upset! I love my puppy and train him by using rewards, not punishment. That works for us, too.
Recognizing the reward (that is, benefit, or need being fulfilled) establishes a link to the change that is self-sustaining. A fire up your butt might get you moving, but once the flames are out you’re gonna stop running.
Gratitude is an enormously powerful ally in change. Consider this: “People don’t resist change, they resist being changed”. When you CHOOSE to make a change in your life you’ve been given a gift. There are so many times we are not given a choice because of timing, the necessary involvement of other people or simple circumstance. I certainly had to consider immediate changes in my life when I was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. In my case, I have been fortunate in that the cancer is slow-growing and not currently a major threat. I have been able to take my time to consider possible treatments. So I have made changes to my diet, exercise regimen, supplementation, basically all the things that I have control over. Believe me, I am grateful that I had the time and space to do so especially knowing how many people in my life did not have that opportunity.
Recognizing that having the ability to change, the opportunity to make a choice and act upon it – that’s huge!
And that brings me to the final aspect of effective change – enthusiasm. This is kind of “closing the circle” on change since we started with consistency. I feel that many times when people drop their resolutions it’s because they have lost their enthusiasm, not because of such external influences as being too busy or changes in routine, or increased responsibilities. I certainly believe these things can be problematic but if you recognized the benefits of making the change in the first place, it’s time to revisit that desired outcome and benefits and stoke the fires of enthusiasm.
When I work with people looking to effect change in their lives, we look at obstacles, of course, but we dwell on motivators and strengths – these are the things that sustain change. If you’ve been able to keep the change going for a week, celebrate that success! If you dropped the ball on day 8, don’t berate yourself, look at the 7 days that worked and see what you can leverage from those days.
Let’s face it, life happens – each day opens with the possibility of any number of challenges and we can’t anticipate or prepare for all of them.
What we can do is be cognizant of our reasons for change, clear about our intended outcome and revel in each success as it paves the way for more success!
Have a great weekend!