January. What comes to mind for so many of us when the new year rolls around is: this is the perfect time to begin again. To make a fresh start. To change the bad habits. To create new ones. And, this is true. There is something about the turning over of the calendar to not only a new month, but a new year, that inspires us to do things differently.
You may or may not buy into the New Year’s Resolution idea. Perhaps you have changed the word “resolution” to “intention”. Maybe you don’t call it anything in hopes that if you don’t name it, the changes will not only happen, but stick. You start out with the best of intentions, full speed ahead to make change, and for a while you do great. But then, life starts to happen. The job becomes more demanding, the kids’ needs come first, your spouse gets called away for work and everything falls on you … and then you find yourself moving back into the same patterns you were in before, the “new” falls away and the “familiar” returns. It becomes too difficult to sustain the changes you had promised to make, and you let them fade away, believing that “soon” you will implement them. When you have more time.
Lao Tzu said, “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading”.
We know this is true. It is why so many of us strive to change. We understand this truth: if you are living life “A” and you want to live life “B”, you cannot continue to do the things that create life “A” and expect to have life “B”. You must change the habits and patterns you are currently engaged in so that you can move toward creating the life that you really want.
Whether the life you want consists of better sleep, comfortable digestion, your ideal weight, an increase of energy, a letting go of anxiety or depression … or so much more.
It reminds us of Charlie Brown and his pal Lucy. Charlie Brown just wants to kick that football. And Lucy promises him that she will hold it so that he can. He knows what will happen if he tries. She will move it and he will fall. He swears he will never do it again. But the pull of the familiar is too strong, he goes against his instincts, he gives her another chance, and the same thing happens again. Charlie Brown finds himself once more on his back, the football out of reach and Lucy smiling smugly with the ball in her hands.
So what do you do? How do you make change happen and then sustain it?
1: The first step is awareness. Knowing what you want and need to change so that you can lead a more comfortable and happy life is key.
2: Next, you must have the desire and motivation to make the change. This step may take a while to reach. Until you have the desire to do what it takes to shift your patterns and behaviors, it cannot happen. Be gentle with yourself in this process. When you are ready to do things differently, really ready, it will happen with so much more ease and grace.
3: Change must be made slowly and incrementally for it to last. The whole “tortoise wins the race” analogy really fits here. If you rush head first into change without giving it time to ease itself into your life, it is less likely to stick. Again, be gentle. Embrace one step at a time. Let each step integrate before pushing forward.
4: Find Support. Someone who can encourage, listen, offer guidance and understanding while you are making the change.
5: Acknowledge what you have accomplished along the way. Look to the final goal, but don’t beat yourself up for not yet being there. Notice every shift you have made and celebrate where you are at right now.
Habits and patterns are there because they are familiar and they work for us … until they don’t. When you realize that what you are currently experiencing is keeping you from living the life you want, and you are ready to do what you need to do to shift, then you can find support, move slowly and be at ease with yourself. You have the ability to create lasting, sustainable change that moves you forward into a life that is full of sleep, energy, amazing digestion and so much more.