Change is hard. Often really really hard.
We may start out with huge levels of determination and enthusiasm, but after a while the resistance we encounter, both internally and externally, can just feel too much and we return to ‘normal’.
For change to stick, there are a number of key steps we can take (which I outline in my e-course “How to Change and Make it Stick”), but the one I’ve just been strongly reminded about of late has been the support we get for ourselves.
Now these days I’m much better at reaching out and asking for support, but for many years I was terrible at it – fiercely independent and also carrying a secret shame and sense that “I should be able to sort this out myself”.
Reaching out for help when I became burned out at work was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but I’m so glad that I did and put my ‘go it alone’ years behind me.
However, I’m still not great at doing some of the small things that are right under my nose that could make the process of change so much easier.
For example, I’d got out of the habit of reading a book first thing in the morning and last thing at night – instead I was playing games on my iPad. My rational head was telling me this was such a waste of time, and I was missing reading fiction. I couldn’t believe I’d abandoned my long term book friendship!
Yet, even though my head was telling me to stop playing games and simply pick up a book, I’d still just find myself reaching for my iPad, because it was easy and mindless; somehow the thought of picking up a book to read was just too much effort.
Finally last week I’d had enough of this internal tussle and spent a few minutes thinking through what the issue really was and asked myself how I could make my environment more supportive and conducive to the change.
So first I identified the perfect book – one that I’d find entertaining, engrossing and long enough to keep the habit going uninterrupted – and placed it on my pillow so I’d have to actually pick it up as I was going to bed. Then I simply deleted all the game apps on my iPad! This felt quite painful, but it’s meant that if I wanted to play a game (and there were plenty of times I had the urge) I had to download the app again and that felt more effort than simply picking up a book!
A small example, but I’ve been doing the same with going to the gym (have my gym clothes ready at the side of my bed and go as soon as I wake up, before I have time to think about it – plus work with a personal trainer so I’d actually have to cancel an appointment to get out of it), writing (close everything on my computer desktop other than what I’m writing, and clear everything off my desk so I’ve no distractions) and plan next to support myself better with my diet (remove ‘temptation’ and ensure what’s to hand when I grabbing something quick between coach calls is more nutritious than a biscuit!).
Small ways to support ourselves, but they can make a BIG difference.