Change Your Life?
Time is your friend.
I read the start of a lot of articles about change. Some of them are good. Many of them feel like the same old stuff repeated in different ways.
It seems many of them miss one very important thing about change: Time.
Change takes time. It’s easy to think that these people who have changed their life did it in one moment with one decision and that was it – their life was changed!
The thinking among us realise it’s not like that. And it’s easy to forget, too, easy to feel despondent that we can’t be the ones who change like that. Easy to think we’re the exception to the rule.
It’s easy to tell yourself, “I’m not like that person. I don’t have what it takes to be like them …”
And yet, you do.
Every change occurs because we make a firm decision to do something and keep doing it.
- The decision to get up and go to the toilet.
- The decision to go and eat that sandwich.
- The decision to talk to someone.
- The decision not to talk to someone.
- The decision to scratch that itch.
We all have the capacity to change. The first step is to make a firm decision based on the things that give you internal motivation – not deciding to change because Stuart says it’s a good idea. No. Deciding to change because you think it’s a great idea.
Here’s the bit we miss.
You have to make that decision again tomorrow. Later today. Next week.
This is the hard part. It’s not about deciding to change, it’s about deciding another time to change. And another time and another.
You see, change is not just a process, it’s a series of moments in time where you decide – even when the going gets tough – to keep on deciding to change.
- Tomorrow you’ll be tired.
- Next week you’ll be tempted.
- Next month you’ll run out of money.
And then you’ll be faced with a decision: to believe the truth about yourself (I can continue to change!) or to start listening to the lie about yourself (I’m a failure because I failed).
Setbacks Are A Necessary Part Of Change
We get discouraged because we seem to continue to return to the habits we’re trying to change. Its common for people to feel like they are a failure because they fail.
But these failures – these returning to the old ways for a time – are a natural and necessary part of changing.
Learning to Balance
If you think about learning to balance, you may have a story you can relate to in your own way.
When I learn to stand on one leg, at first, I wobble all over the place. In fact, I can’t even do it. I have to keep putting the other foot on the ground to keep from falling over.
When I teach this skill to clients, they often begin to feel despondent and can get angry or depressed at themselves for “failing”, as they see it.
In that moment I encourage them, as I encourage myself: failure is necessary in this drill because the body can only know that it needs to improve its balance by discovering that it can’t balance. So it begins to find a new way of being.
The body starts discovering that it can change but at first, we’re unaware of it. Then one day, after weeks of trying to balance, the body is suddenly able to do it. Suddenly, I can balance on one leg, almost like magic!
Change is Like Learning to Balance
Changing your life, even one habit at a time, is like learning to balance. You need to make errors and have setbacks because not all methods of change are for everyone.
And that’s the mistake that people make. They think that because a process worked for them or their client, that it will work for everyone, that it should work for everyone.
But everyone is unique
Change will be different for me and you because we value different things and have different beliefs about the world that we have to battle.
Setbacks Are A Chance To Decide
When setbacks come – and they will – they are evidence that you are learning to succeed because only with a setback can you make the decision to find the resources to discover what it was about that setback that didn’t work.
When a setback comes, and it will, you can be prepared because you now know that they will come. They are necessary, to one extent or another.
And when they come, you can make another decision to become the person you want to become, the person you’ve decided to become and the person are, in fact, becoming. Each time you make the decision, again, to become that person, is proof that you’re becoming them, because change comes from a series of decisions to change.
That first, second and third decision is only the early stages of this process. The real change occurs because you make the decision again another ten, fifty or two hundred times.
That’s what change is. It’s making a decision. And one day, out of the blue, you’ll no longer find it difficult and you’ll be able to stand without effort.
You can change. Give yourself a big dose of self-compassion and try again. You’ve got this.