If we want to thrive, we first need to change.
I've learned that it's often our inability to effectively deal with that change that creates the biggest barrier to our success. As we head into a new year, full of promise, hope and anticipation, it's as good a time as any to look at how we deal with change so that we can get ready to live our potential in 2017.
Kick the Habit
The key to making change work is understanding it.
In his wonderful book; "The Power of Habit", Charles Duhigg explains that habit accounts of much of what we do every day and when we understand how a habit is created, we have a better chance of creating a routine or behaviour that can help us to make a change successfully.
Habits are made up of three parts;
Once we understand what triggers a habit (the cue) and the reward we get from doing it, we can get to work on the routine that we use to achieve that reward.
So for example, if, like me, one of the changes you want to make is to be more productive, and you find that one of the blockers to being productive is the amount of time you spend on social media, you can look at what the trigger is for you to go on social media:
Is it because you are bored?
Does something pop into your head and you want to find out about it now?
Learning what triggers your behaviour helps because in recognising the trigger, you can see the point at which you subconsciously make the decision to follow that behaviour. This gives you the power to come off auto pilot and change that decision to create a better behaviour or routine that will create the same reward. For example;
"I'm bored, is there something else (more productive) that I can do now, other than get lost on social media?
"Oh, I wonder what X is doing now? I'll spend another twenty minutes on this, set a reminder on my phone, and then I'll find out".
The reward remains the same, but the behaviour changes, thus achieving the reward. Choosing the right decision and doing it consistently helps it to develop into a habit.
As with everything, people are different, so while this is a useful framework, it's vital to spend the time to figure out what the triggers and rewards are for you so you can formulate your personal plan of action for success.
Challenge the Resistance
A key factor in making change work for you is knowing what to expect. Resistance can be a key blocker to change and it comes from you. It'll say things like:
"You know you'll never be able to do this right?"
This has never worked before...what makes you think it'll work now?"
Resistance draws on the self limiting beliefs that hide away in your subconscious, ready to show up any time the status quo is being challenged. Its main goal is usually to hold you back. It can manifest itself very strongly, in the form of stress, anxiety or physical ailments such as headaches or digestive problems, so you need to be careful of it.
The trick here is to know it, understand it and label it. For me, resistance comes in the form of backache and neck ache, leading to headaches. It cleverly piggybacks on an existing condition that I have with my neck/back so it's almost like a Trojan horse sneaking past the gate keeper! Recognising your "trojan horse" is the first step to being able to manage it. Whether it's a physical, mental or emotional ailment, be mindful of it and see it for what it is; a tactic to keep you right where you are; in your comfort zone, afraid to change, powerless to thrive.
Once you recognise your resistance, acknowledge it, question it and use your defence tactics to counteract it. In my case, when I see resistance show up, I ask myself questions like
"What am I afraid of?"
"Why am I feeling this way?"
"How is it serving me to resist like this?"
I effectively tackle the resistance head on so there is no ambiguity about the changes I am trying to make. I also make an effort to be extra kind to myself because I've noticed in the past that when I haven't succeeded in making the changes I wanted, I am hard on myself. This is counter productive. I take the time to do things that empower me, particularly to prevent back and neck ache from taking hold. These might include using essential oils, regular meditation or getting out for a walk in nature. It's my way of saying;
"Resistance, I know you're there, but this change is good for me. I need this. I have to say "no" to you so I can keep moving forward"
For good measure, it's always useful to throw in some positive self talk to really drive it home:
"I believe in me"
"I am confident, strong and determined"
Positive Self Talk will negate those deep-rooted beliefs that regularly whisper in the back of your mind when the going gets tough; "You're not good enough" "You don't deserve it", "You can't do this"
Mind your language
What many people don't realise is that the gap that often exists between our success or failure is the language we use with both ourselves and others.
If you find yourself in that unfortunate place of blaming others, complaining about why this is happening and being angry that this always happens to you...flip it by asking yourself;
"What good are you doing for yourself by complaining?"
The answer is usually.....
In fact, by wallowing in this negative talk, we often feel worse than before so a great success tip is to take this energy and focus away from the negative talk and channel it to feed the positivity and grit needed to overcome the challenges of change.
"What do I need to do to overcome this challenge?"
"Who do I need to ask for support?"
When you create the right habits, get your defences in place against resistance and use positive language to motivate and strengthen your mindset, you are well on your way to making positive change to help you thrive.
But you don't need to wait until then....
One of the most powerful things you can do to bring about change is to visualise it working well for you.
When you have that positive goal or intention, fuelled with energy and focus, when you can see it clearly, the result seems within your reach and it feels like you're thriving already.
Think about the positive change you want to make.
Take a few minutes out to get crystal clear on how it looks, feels, sounds, tastes, smells.
Feel the moment, as if you've already come through change, you're on the other side and it's working out amazingly well.
You feel calm and at peace because you've achieved the result you wanted to achieve.
You feel success, euphoria and are satisfied in the knowledge that;
You are enough.
You deserve this.
You can do this!