It’s exciting to have an inspirational thought on implementing a change into your life. Your idea could range from:
- a lifestyle choice such as drinking, smoking or eating
- improving a relationship with others or yourself
- redefining what it is that you want to do in life
- or a whole host of your unique life circumstances.
But after you get that idea to change, you realize that this might be challenging. Creating change goes against the flow of your life and when that happens, resistance can occur. You could just muscle through it, and people do that with just pure will power, but many people fail this way.
Will power can only take you so far. What you need to do is develop skills and set up structures to help you ease the resistance, and make the process of change as positive and long lasting as you can. If this change is meaningful to you, then it’s important to think long term and forget the idea that there is an overnight fix. It’s important to consider that if it took years to create then it’s not going to take hours to undue.
With the correct strategy and support, you can minimize the difficulty as well as deepen the profoundness and longevity of the change. And in the end, isn’t that what you want?
What’s your motivation?
It’s important that you know why you are wanting to undergo a life change. Other people can try and impose their own beliefs about our lives and in most cases it comes from a place of caring, but in the end, it their agenda and not yours. In order to get behind a major life change, your motivation has to be your own. You have to want it for yourself and not other people. For example, you need to quit drinking because you want to improve your health or free your mind from addiction rather than because your wife nags you. Or if you want to start a career, then this has to be a career that you want and not one that you are being pressured into.
Chip and Dan Heath the authors of Switch have a great analogy about motivation. Consider an elephant that has a rider on top. The rider is the will power and the elephant is the motivation. The rider can push and cajole the elephant for only so long until the elephant decides that it’s too tired or no longer wants to listen to the much smaller. The match up between the elephant and the rider has an obvious outcome. The elephant will do what it wants.
This is important to realize when considering your motivation for your change. When things become challenging (and they will to some extent), you need to ask yourself and spend time thinking about why is it that you really want to do something. This first step needs to be given a great deal of time and energy.
Something things to help you get started:
1. Write out reasons for why you would like to change. Be as specific as possible. You might not even be sure as to where it might lead, but all you know right now is that you don’t want things as they are.
2. Consider what you would be giving up if you undertake this change?
3. Consider what you will be gaining in the long run?
4. Is this something that as you reflect back up in years to come, that you are proud to have undertaken. What I mean here, is this contributing to your idea of a life well lived?
Remember, your motivation has to come from within and not from external pressures.
When it’s from something that you want, you power the elephant to move in the direction that you want. But when it’s from what somebody else thinks is best for you, you empower the driver, but in the end, your elephant goes in the direction that it wants. And that’s undoing the change that you are trying so hard to create.