Real Change, Transformational Change is Possible!
Updated: Jun 14, 2019
We are not “stuck” with the health that we have or the lifestyle behaviors we’ve struggled with. The vast majority of us can impact our health in positive ways, even when our health includes challenging medical diagnosis. Just as we plan for our vacations or our retirement or our children’s education, the plans we make for achieving maximum health and well-being are fundamental to successful change.
Lifelong health and happiness happens by accident for a lucky few. For most of us, it takes looking ahead and creating a pathway for success. Change can be challenging. It demands that we stop doing or start doing something different from our normal habits. When we do that, even in small ways, it can feel awkward and uncomfortable, sometimes even impossible. It’s natural to feel the old habits exerting pressure to just revert back to the way we’ve always done things.
The good news is that very small changes can make a big difference. Too often we set goals that are so difficult that we can only keep them for a very short time, if at all. One of the keys to success is setting small, manageable goals. Did you know that studies have shown that just 10 minutes of moderate exercise each day like walking or dancing can significantly extend your lifespan and quality of life? And dropping just 100 calories each day will drop 10 or more pounds each year? 100 calories is equivalent to a tablespoon of butter or less than ½ of a bagel. It isn’t necessary or even helpful for most of us to try to
change huge portions of our lives. It’s so much more manageable and meaningful to change one small thing at a time that really matters to us and that gives us more of what we really want in our lives and in our health. What do you want?
People who are successful at long term change know that it’s going to be challenging and also that it’s worth it. They’re willing to go through the discomfort because there’s something that they want more than that. When you think of your life 5 or 10 years from now if nothing has changed in your health and well-being, what do you imagine will be how you’ll look, feel and be? If you make a change and stick to it, what could be the result 5 or 10 years from now?
What’s worth it to you?
The very first step in making a plan for your health and well-being is taking an inventory of where you are now and where you want to be. What would you like to look and feel like 5-10 years from now? What chronic illnesses are you working with? What medications? What is your movement and exercise like? What is your sleep, diet and stress resiliency like? What would it be worth to you to make a change? On a scale of 1-10 how important is it? For some people, what makes a change worth it to them is the impact that it will have not only on themselves but on family members and how they see themselves contributing in their communities. When we have more resilience and energy, we naturally share it in meaningful ways with others. What is it that you are part of in your family and your community that being healthy and resilient would make a difference in? What would it be like to be confident and comfortable in your body?
Once you have a true assessment of where you are and where you want to be, it’s time to chart a pathway, made up of small, meaningful steps that will lead to a final goal. Before you get started, here are some tips:
Decide on an achievable 3-6 month goal.
Plan out small steps towards your goal. Begin with something very easy that you cannot fail at. Building from small success to success helps the mind develop an, “I can do this!” attitude towards change.
Make it fun and interesting. Think about how to link your new habit change to something that you enjoy or an interest that you have or a challenge that captures your attention.
Link your new habit to something that you’re already doing. Research has shown that habit stacking makes change easier. For example, if you’re starting an exercise program, it can help to link it to something you already do. For example, choose to go exercise after you first get up and have your cup of coffee in the morning or directly after work in the evening.
Consider sharing a change that you want to make with a friend or loved one or with a coach. Some people find that partnership in habit change is enormously helpful. You may want to join a small group of people who are interested in the same change and encourage each other’s efforts, learning and success.
Realize that it’s the process of change that is most important. Setting a goal can be helpful, and changing the process of how we go about keeping our commitments to ourselves and shaping a healthy, happy routine in our lives is key. Real change is about more than reaching a goal; it’s about transforming your life into the life you most want to have.