I’ve talked a lot about science lately, so I want to take this week to discuss something a little more mindful and personal.
One of the greatest pitfalls I have experienced…no, the greatest pitfall I have experienced in my clients is the desire to do everything at once, make any sacrifice necessary, and just tough it out and change their whole life. This is typically motivated by a strong desire for a result. They really expect that this is the key to attaining near-immediate results.
There are some big problems here:
- Changing everything at once is an unrealistic expectation.
- Expecting immediate reward for increased energy and time investment is a high expectation.
- Increasing the stress on the individual through tremendous change is likely to have negative effects on health.
- Toughing through a lifestyle change for results leads to a tremendous desire to receive the results—so you can then stop trying so hard.
- When you desire to regain a sense of comfort in your life, you only have two points of reference: the life you left, which resulted in poor health, and the uncomfortable life you exchanged it for in order to attain your desired results.
- The body develops at its own rate. Any dramatic swing in the state of the body is not going to allow for the needed development to make the change a lasting feature.
I will address these one by one in future blog posts, but in this post I will talk about what really helps us remain motivated. The focus will be to learn to maintain the drive long enough to allow for the time it takes for the body to develop in a healthy way and produce a lasting change.
In order to remain motivated, we must have an experience of success.
This means that during the process of changing our lifestyle we must actually receive a feeling of accomplishment and hope for the future. This builds a sense of ability and allows for the actions which otherwise could be perceived as sacrifice and frustration to instead be experienced as growth and empowerment.
Here are the necessary steps for staying motivated when changing your life:
- Building awareness
- Outlining realistic and attainable goals
- Scheduling the actions which are necessary to meet those goals in a way that fits appropriately into your current lifestyle
- Measuring the accomplishment of these actions in a quantifiable manner
By taking these steps, we can build a bridge allowing for a fluid transition into the life that will realize our desired change. We are then able to lay a foundation on which our new lifestyle will be constructed. Most importantly, all of this will be done without having to feel as though we have abandoned ourselves in order to do so. The sense of loss that is associated with dramatic sacrifice makes success during any transition nearly impossible.
Many other tools, such as a supportive community and an appropriate reward system, are also important in the process of a transformation experience. However, the biggest step is to stop setting yourself up for failure and thus increasing the feelings of hopelessness that will make it that much more difficult to start again.
What has your experience been with trying to make a dramatic change in your life? Please tell me about it in a comment below!
If you are ready to get started making changes to your lifestyle that last, I would love it if you would join us on December 10th for my first-ever presentation of Managing Daily Stress in my home city of St. Louis. I have conducted this workshop at several locations out of state, but I’m very excited to finally be presenting it here! This is the first of three in my Foundation for Healthy Living Workshop series, and I built them in a specific order to help guide your next steps.
This presentation will be held at Nebula Coworking from 6-8pm and only costs $20 to attend. You can get your tickets through the Eventbrite event page below and you can easily add it to your Google, Outlook, Yahoo, or iCal calendar right from the site after you sign up. Read more about it (and a bonus special offer!) here on my blog or get your tickets @ managingdailystress.eventbrite.com