5 Tips for making changes in your life!
Let’s just put this out there right now… If change were easy, we’d all be financially wealthy, fit, and happy.
This year (and last for that matter) has been challenging to say the least and it’s not over yet… dealing with change is frustrating, particularly when it’s thrust upon you.
But what about when you know what you want to do, but you can’t get yourself to do it… consistently. Obviously, the change is one for the better in your mind… I mean – why would you want to change if it doesn’t benefit you in some way? So why isn’t it easy?
Change is hard. Why? Well…
Let’s talk about when I lost my Australian Defence Force career with the Royal Australian Air Force to really paint a picture..
- Habits are strong and pervasive. To make a change, you must be absolutely certain that change is going to benefit you. I felt lost, devastated – working as an RAAF Nursing Officer was all I’d know for almost 20 years. I had no idea what was on the other side of my discharge…
- Change is hard because it’s uncomfortable. Taking the actions required to get to your desired state is going to create discomfort. But then staying where you are must be uncomfortable as well. Staying in RAAF was uncomfortable. I was dealing with mental illness triggers EVERY DARN DAY! And to be honest… I would not have made the decision to go because change to being a civilian is so darn hard!
- What you’re doing is working, mostly. Most of us prefer to stay where we are, even if it means misery than face change and the uncertainty that comes with it. And I was miserable, angry and unwell – to a point. But I had certainty in my workplace. I was entrenched in the work I was doing and the impact it had.
- You’ve tried and tried before to change but it just didn’t work. At various times throughout my career, I’d thought about leaving the service but it was just too frightening and there were too many unknowns.
My Top 5 Tips for making changes:
- Be prepared and ready to change. Expect that change will be challenging. Have a plan for any time that you might slip up. If you know what’s tripped you up before, you know where the ‘danger’ zones are – have a plan when faced with those situations. Even write it down – if this (xyz) happens, I will do (abc) and tell myself (123). I had a rehabilitation specialist who co-ordinated my ‘transition’ out of the ADF and I had my husband and other friends who understood my journey to help me through. We didn’t get to write things down like I’ve suggested above and geez, it so would have helped on the days where I was totally ‘fogged’ out and down on myself.
- Start with small steps. For example, if your change is that you want to start exercising after a period of inactivity, you don’t just go at it hard every day for hours on end – that’s a sure way to get injured and prevent you from actually liking what you’re doing. You might start by getting a program that builds you up to the level that you want to achieve. The key is to develop and establish the new habit (behaviour) each day.
- Be patient. It can take months to make a change permanent. Studies show that it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the habit and the person. Consistency and being solid in why you’re wanting the change will keep you going through the tough times. It’s taken me four years to get where I am today – looking at life really positively and with hope for the future. Am I still triggered? ABSOLUTELY!! But I’m getting better at dealing with it myself and being able to experience it without losing control.
- Be willing to change yourself and be ready for the consequences. There are consequences for everything we do right? The consequences might be really good and beneficial. The consequences might not be terribly beneficial or good. For example, if you make changes in your life, some of the people in your life may disagree with what you’re doing… are you prepared to leave them behind or will you continue to stay where you are to appease them? Ask yourself – what am I wanting to gain? What am I willing to give up? I have lost a number of things that were valuable to me since leaving the ADF… but looking back, I’m actually happy to be leaving the traits, habits behind. Even though I never thought I would be.
- Expect to not be perfect all the time… People make mistakes. Learning from those mistakes and lapses will keep you in the right direction towards the change you want. Progress over perfection. Every day is a day further away from what caused my pain. Every day is a day closer to the future that hubby and I are designing. I trip up in playing the blame game and bringing back all the emotions from the time I was discharged – not as often as I used to though. Today I’m more and more happy and grateful that it happened to allow me to become the person I am today.
Just imagine if you moved the dial 1% towards your desired change each day. Within 100 days (just over 3 months) you would have changed… over 100%
How much have you changed over the last few years?