Changing something is never easy, especially when it comes to addictions like smoking, or behavioral patterns like responding to stress in a certain manner, always choosing the wrong crowd, bad eating habits or you name it. In order to change you need to quit this old way of doing things and replace it with another new way and that is a challenge! I have always known that certain attributes of my life style are not my ideal way of living, but I was too caught up in my comfort zone to do anything about it. For me it took a full break down in a foreign country where I had nothing or no one except for me, to finally realize I could not deal with my behavior any longer. I was literally sick of it and it felt like I could either make that change or just stop living at all. That is how much I hated the person I had become. That is how disappointed I was with my self. Because time and time again I had let myself down and hurt myself. I was so disloyal to myself that I did not care about protecting my mind, spirit or body for that matter against negative or even destructive things. I was so untrustworthy to myself that those types of people kept on being drawn to me, and I finally came to the conclusion that was all because of who I was. Seeing that was not easy I will admit, it was one of the most hurtful things I have ever had to go through in this lifetime. But I am thankful that I have experienced this ‘breakthrough’, because I don’t know if I would be here today without it. I know that is very cliche of me to say, but it is the truth and I can not deny that! Anyway this post was not meant to be a story about what I have gone through, I am writing this to share the steps I made and am still making today in order to make that change. For me the motivation is crystal clear; I HAD TO change in order to survive. But not all changes have to be triggered by the same situation that I was in. You can also be fairly happy where you are and still want to change certain details of your character or the aspects of your life like your lovelife, career, hobbies and so on. Just keep in mind that every life is unique and different and you need to find your way of doing things on your own terms. I have come up with 10 steps that helped me change my ways and could be beneficial to you too. So here they go!
Step 1: Find out what it is you need to change
The first step might me the most obvious one but it can still be very tricky to really find out what it is you need to change. There can be a feeling of discontent inside of you without even knowing where it’s coming from. If you are experiencing these feelings ask yourself what it is that makes you feel like this? When you go to bed at night and you evaluate the day, do you feel satisfied? And if not, what is it that you are missing? What part of your day would have to change in order for you to feel content? Or maybe you feel ashamed, or guilty, after a night of partying? Do you feel like you might have drunk a little too much? How do you feel after eating that whole cake? Does it make you feel happy or do you have this aftertaste of disappointment? There are so many things someone can change you know, but it’s up to YOU to find out what is it you NEED to change. Just follow your spirit. If you feel happy and content all the time you probably don’t have to change a thing! But if you do feel some type of way sometimes, then go ahead and explore where that feeling is coming from.
Step 2: Link it to negative emotions
Even though you do not have to let it come as far as it went with me, there is a little trick to drive that motivation for you to change. Anthony Robbins also states it in personal power; you have to link a massive amount of pain to the things you want to change. What that does is it just makes it feel wrong to continue this pattern. For example you want to quit smoking. You have linked so many positive things to smoking that it’s almost impossible to quit. It’s relaxing, it’s social, it takes your mind off of stress, what ever it is it must be something positive in order for you to continue smoking. What you need to do is take all these positive things and write them down with a pencil, erase them and now replace them with negative things like: it bad for your health, it stinks, it’s very expensive and it doesn’t taste good at all. Now you can not really enjoy it anymore because of all the negative feelings it brings up. And you can really do it with anything you want to change. Just start by changing the way you feel about it and you have taken the second step, to change!
Step 3: Set some goals
I think where most people, including myself, go wrong in trying to change is that they only focus on the negative. All they focus on is what needs to change and how bad it is to keep doing/using/being it and so on and so on. But how good does it make you feel when all you tell yourself is negative? Instead, try and give it a positive twist by focusing on something new and good. In order to do that you need some brand new positive goals to help keep you motivated and inspire you along the way. I focused on my eating habits. By changing the way I ate and setting some goals in my juicing and vegetarian lifestyle it also helped me with not smoking or drinking anymore; just because it just didn’t match my new lifestyle anymore.
Step 4: Write down a plan
Now that you know what part of your life needs change, linked it to some negative emotions and set some new positive goals to reach, you should write down a plan. Yes, you already wrote a few things down, but what is the main goal? Where do you want to be in five years from now? What kind of person are you aiming to become? Writing this down will not only help you to get a clear view of what you want to achieve, it will also help you visualize it so that you can start attracting this into your life. I know that it helped me a lot when I got a clear idea of where I was going. Before that I was just living my life on a day to day basis and that really held me back in not only pursuing my dreams, but also getting out of my comfort zone.
Step 5: Share your change with those around you
When in the process of changing yourself it is important that your loved ones are aware of your process and are able to support you. Whenever you feel like you’re ready to share it with them, please do! Tell them about your goals and plan and how you are trying to achieve them. Maybe they can even offer you some advice here and there. It is important to share your change because with a support system backing you up you will feel stronger and more empowered to really go for it.
Step 6: Stop identifying yourself with your past
This one was a challenge for me, especially because I had been living a certain lifestyle for about ten years of my life already, and all of a sudden I changed that. I myself and the people around me really needed to adapt ourselves to this new me. Moving to another city really helped me get comfortable with this new person because the new surroundings had never experienced this ”old me”. I remember one time where I told my coworker that I used to smoke (and this was like 6 months later) and she looked at me funny and said ”well, that is not you at all”. This was so freeing for me because it showed me how much I had changed. Right now I still have my moments where I talk about me as if I am still that girl that smokes, drinks and parties all the time. It’s really a matter of seeing yourself as the person you are today instead of focusing on the past all the time. You can reinvent yourself every new day! So even if you are not moving to another city like I did, you can still stop seeing yourself as the person you was, and start seeing yourself as the person you are right now and aiming to become. You are not your past!
Step 7: Reward yourself
As you are taking these steps to change your ways you may reward yourself for it. It’s totally acceptable to throw yourself a little party, light some candles and spoil yourself. You made this positive decision to change and are still busy working on it everyday! That deserves a token of appreciation. Just remember that you are doing this for yourself and to keep yourself motivated you can even give yourself rewards every time you reach a little milestone. For example I used to fear going to the gym alone because I felt insecure about what I was doing and was totally intimidated by all these strong and athletic men and women around me. When I went to the gym alone for the first time I rewarded myself with some hot chocolate milk and whip cream. I am sure you have your own obstacles to conquer and your own ways of celebrating that.
Step 8: Don’t give up
The easiest way is to start the process but the hard part comes in keeping it going. There will come a time where you are going to be tempted to fall back into your old pattern(s) and that is the time when you should not give in to that, and keep on holding on to this change! Don’t give up! You’re almost there!
Step 9: Evaluate your progress
After not giving up you might a little something to boost your confidence and help keep you motivated. What about looking at the progress you’ve already made? For me, realizing I had made such huge steps already really kept me motivated and drove me even more to succeeding in this new way of life. If you have been working at change for a little while now and you need a reminder of why you even started this process, just look at how far you have come! Evaluate the steps you have made and the outcome of them in order to maybe rewrite your goals or just shape it up a little. It’s okay to not be totally satisfied yet, just be honest to yourself and try and think of ways to achieve your goals. When necessary you can even start back at step 1 after this.
Step 10: Enjoy the new YOU
You made it! It’s been quite some time (maybe a year, or 6 months, depending on your plan and goals) and you really made the change you wanted to make. The new you is happy content and goes to bed with a feeling of pride and satisfaction. Keep up the good work and evolve in every aspect of your life. Now that you have the tools to change what ever when ever you feel like it, it will help you grow in the future too. You can be proud of yourself and enjoy every moment of this new situation. It really took action, motivation and determination to make it this far, and you have done it all by yourself. So relax, pour yourself a drink and stay happy!
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