This post is from my dear friend Tara Findlay (a sister to me, really). I think we can all relate and learn from her thoughtful words and helpful tips. Please leave a comment if you like it!
Creating Lasting Change
By Tara Findlay
Earlier this year I created a Yoga series to reflect our yearning for New Year’s resolutions; you know, those passionate, determined, optimistic and sometimes desperate pledges we make to change ourselves. I started thinking about my own resolutions of years past. Which of those commitments became a lasting shift in my own habits, and which ones were fleeting?
How do we create lasting change in our lives?
How do we shift from flirting with change into a healthy lasting relationship?
How do we get from where we are to where we want to be, without giving up in frustration?
After some thought, I came up with five qualities for creating change; creating space, developing your awareness, finding your focus, delighting in the journey, and the power of choice, and I’ve described them below. As you read them, I encourage you to have a notebook and pen handy, and journal about your own process. Find a quiet place, give yourself plenty of time for contemplation, and approach this task with some lightness! Being in a relaxed state will help create a healthy container for change.
Creating Space – In order to create lasting change, we must be open to the idea of it. We need to be ready to let go of old patterning and embrace the new and often unknown. This can be a scary concept to some and lead to clinging to familiar habits because they feel safe. Take a look at what you would like to change in your life and ask yourself, “Am I ready to release this habit, this particular way of living? Am I ready to try something different?”
Develop your awareness – It is difficult to get what you want if you don’t know what that is. This is where goal setting comes in. What would you like to achieve? What changes would you like to create in your life? Take some time to get really specific. Once you establish your goals, then you can begin to get very clear on where you are, your starting point. On a scale of One to Ten, where are you right now compared to where you want to be? If you continued down this road without changing, where will that get you?
Finding your focus – Keep your eyes on the prize and begin with the end in mind. If on a scale of 1-10 you are at a 6 in terms of reaching your goal, what would a 10 look like? How do you move? How do you feel? Spend time in this space of fulfillment. See yourself as having completed that book or achieved an established clientele. Visualize crossing that finish line or fitting into that dress.
Why would you like to create this change? Getting clear on your motivation is a powerful way to create passion and momentum. What will this change get you? Create a visual symbol of your goal. If you want to travel, find a picture of where you want to go and place it somewhere you will see it. If it’s a marathon, find an old bib, or keep a copy of the completed race form in your sight. Take a look at your current goals, and re-write them as if they’ve already been accomplished. If you’re feeling stuck, try beginning each sentence with “I am so happy in my life now that I have….”, and insert your goal appropriately.
Delight in the journey – Even though it’s important to visualize the end result, we still need to do the work! Breaking down your goal into bite sized steps can turn a daunting task into an enjoyable journey. Instead of trying to leap from a 6 to a 10, try aiming for a seven. Commit this week to something so small that it’s impossible to fail at. If you want to eventually walk for 30-minutes every day, and are currently doing nothing of the sort, try walking for 5-10 minutes one night this week. Be specific and do give yourself a deadline. Then, soften and enjoy yourself. If you are running to get in shape or lose weight, delight in the side effects of increased fitness…..more energy, and stamina; being able to keep up with your kids for the whole day! Instead of focusing on how much weight you still want to lose, celebrate how much weight you’ve lost so far. So you aren’t into those size 8 jeans yet, but hey your 10’s are baggy aren’t they?
Change happens in increments, sometimes large and sometimes achingly small, so please be patient.
By breaking up a large task into sizable chunks, you also create some opportunity for celebration. I have a client who gave up smoking. Instead of looking at the goal as an impossibly massive shift, she just went day by day, and rewarded herself as she saw fit (and within her budget). Each week she refrained from smoking she bought herself a pair of shoes. Several years later, she now has a separate closet for them! Creating a rewards system doesn’t have to be monetary based, a night out dancing, taking the day off for a bike ride, going to the beach. The possibilities are endless.
The power of choice – I just recently traveled to Kauai, and wanted a certain amount of spending money for when I was there. As I was saving I had many opportunities to make various purchases. Each time I asked myself the question: Do I choose this or do I choose Kauai? I didn’t feel denied of my lifestyle; I just got really clear on what was more important. Sometimes I chose to eat out, and I did buy some new clothing, but I contemplated my choice each time. Every moment we are choosing. Which choices move you toward your goals? Which ones move you away from them? In order to say YES to some things, we need to say NO to others.
Growth and change aren’t always easy… or comfortable! However, standing on the other side of your accomplishment, looking back on your progress is rarely a regret. By applying these qualities of openness, awareness, focus, patience, and choice to any change we can start the process of creating more fulfilling and passionate experiences.
Tara Findlay has been in the health care industry for over a decade as an RMT, RYT and Life Coach. She is passionate about helping others lead more fulfilling lives. If you would like to learn more about her Health and Lifestyle Coaching programs, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org