The First Steps Towards Change
Often seen as an intimidating, uncomfortable, difficult path of embarrassing knocks and bruises into the unknown. Filled with resistance. On most occasions it’s true. Just that we seldom visualize clearly the end result of what the change will bring, even though we know that it is good.
We then make feeble attempts to change, and when things don’t go our way after a few shots, we raise the white flag. Return to what is normal and comfortable, allowing your inner voice to say,
“See, told you so. It’s just too hard, I can’t do it.”
“I wasn’t born with it.”
“I’m too old for this.”
“I don’t have enough time.”
“It’s not the right moment to do it.”
Tell yourself all of that, and you wouldn’t be surprised to know that you’re right. You are, the language that you use. What you keep telling yourself in your head will manifest in speech, and into your actions, which will form habits. The habits develop over months and years, inadvertently shaping who you are right now.
Thoughts form words. Words form actions. Actions form habits. Habits develop over years, and become you. So who are you ? Therefore, You = Your thoughts.
If we understand this and want to change ourselves for the better, we will first need to change our thoughts. By thinking better. How?
1. Start spending time with the right people
Since people are their thoughts, begin by spending time with the right people. If you want to be good at something, learn from the people who are already good at it. Attend workshops, and learn from good mentors. Want to be healthy? Join a fitness-training group or get a personal trainer. Want to learn to ropes of starting a business ? Find a great mentor. We need to remember, each one of us is the product of our environment. When we immerse ourselves in environments as such, it allows us to grow in the direction that we want to be. Having a positive environment will curb the chances of going back to your old ways, as there will be someone looking out for you.
For instance, trees grow well when the soil is fertile, with sufficient water and sunlight. Not when it’s left in a dry and barren land. The soil is the encouragement and resources for growth from people around you, while the water and sunlight are the mentors that nurture and guide you to the right direction.
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. – Jim Rohn.
It works both positively and negatively. Sometimes, substance abusers have long, hard battles to kick the habit completely. Once they go out of rehab, they return back to the same company of friends, be tempted to relive their previous lifestyles. The cycle repeats itself for many years into a downward spiral. On the other end, if you put yourself in a learning environment, you will tend to push yourself, receive encouragement, and be raised to greater heights having seen those around you improve themselves and get better.
2. Start with what you have, where you are
A commonly forgotten point, when people always think that the perfect time to start on something, is somewhere in the distant future, which is pretty vague. When they have more time, when they have more money, when the kids grow up, when I think I’m ready. It might not happen at all, since you’ve waited too long to take action. Plan for the action, and take action on the plan made. Momentum builds over time. Think of just 1 small task that you could do, to change for the better.
You already have what it takes. Appreciate what you have, and use it to move forward.
3. Your mistakes are your teachers.
Sometimes we are repeatedly haunted by the incidents or mistakes that happened in the past, and we think that it is just part of who we are. Do the same old things and you will get the same results. That’s about it. If it does not work the first time round, try different ways. Different problems call for different solutions. Learn from your mistakes, don’t be insane.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein
4. Start competing with a previous version of yourself
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has mentioned, “He whose two days are equal(in accomplishment), is a sure loser” (Sunan Daylami).
This clearly shows that you need to improve yourself daily. This will drive you forward as the struggle isn’t about comparing yourself to others. Everyone has goals which are specific to them, which might not entirely resonate with you. The question is, how will you be better than the person you were, yesterday?
5. Start being honest with yourself about everything.
Ignorance isn’t exactly bliss when you’re trying to improve. The first steps towards change is awareness, realizing what has worked right for you, and what needs to be changed. Be honest about the priorities in your life, and the person you’d want to become. The sooner you do this, the clearer the road ahead will be. The one person that you can count on is you, so be honest, and start with the man (or woman) in the mirror.
Be the change you wish to see in the world – Gandhi
And change, starts with you.