Today everything seems to be about change. Improvement. Reaching new goals. But as we know, change is not that easy. Especially sudden change very often doesn’t last. Unless you’ve got no real choice. But that seems to be issue. We DO have a choice. When it comes to losing weight, taking control over our finances or simply putting the phone down more often and being more present, there is no one really holding us accountable. Well, we hold ourselves accountable. Sometimes. This is exactly where the issue lies. We are the only one holding ourselves accountable. So is it really that surprising that when we jump into a new behaviour, it might not nearly go as well as hoped. And if we jump in halfheartedly, the results are even worse.
So you can’t just jump in. This is why new year’s resolutions tends to fail so badly. We’re drunk, at a party, and are suddenly coming up with these wild ideas of our new-and-improved-self. Well… So behaviour changes need preparation! I have written articles about behavioural change before. I don’t really recommend preparing for a changing behaviour in the material sense. I don’t think buying a whole new gym wardrobe is going to get you to go to the gym more often, on the longer term. The preparation you do need is much more mental. Actually, it’s completely mental. Fancy new clothes, or new equipment might get you to work-out, but they won’t drive long-term motivation. Longer-term motivation is driven by something very different. It’s driven by a deep-seated desire.
You have to WANT it. It takes a certain level of desperation, being fed up and almost self-loathing to properly reach a level of resolve where it’s difficult to think about anything else. This feeling of rejecting the current state is what drives long-term motivation.
This is probably not the article you were hoping for. This is not a feel good “yes you can do it!” type of article. But it is the truth. You can surround yourself by new items promoting behavioural change, but it is truly your mindset that needs to be worked on. And you can’t buy something to change your mind.
So how do change your mind? Well, you need to have a very clear goal in mind. To know how to set up a successful goal, please continue reading here. Second, you need to do your research. Yes, it’s time to enter the world of knowledge. Have there been others who have had the same (or a similar) situation and goal to you? How did they achieve your shared goal? Did they achieve it? Which pitfalls did they identify? Just asking these questions will lead you to read so much, that it will take quite a while for you to get through it. Of course, there might me more scientific research out there as well, so make sure to dive into that too. But then again, read people’s experiences carrying that research out as well. There is a wealth of information out there about diets, but that doesn’t mean every successful diet (scientifically) will work for you! Third, once we dealt with the wealth of information out there, we need to pick a style, plan or approach we are comfortable with ourselves. There is many ways of losing weight, but maybe the style that fits your life best is intermittent fasting. There’s many ways of getting your finances under control, but maybe you feel best with completely moving to cash and journaling your cash-based spending from now on. Who knows? Only you do! Fourth, now that we have a style or a plan that we are comfortable with, we have to work out how to integrate this into our own lives. Again, don’t just jump in hoping for the best. This is a recipe for disaster. Good change needs planning! You can’t decide from one day to the next that you’re going to be vegan, without any planning. Veganism, for example, requires that you know which food is vegan and which isn’t, how to cook these new foods and how to turn them into proper meals, and when going out to eat, knowing which restaurants do vegan food. If you dive in haphazardly you’re going to either fail very quickly, or you’re going to be quite hungry for a bit. At the same time, you wouldn’t throw all non-vegan food out your fridge, that would be wasteful. You’d go through the non-vegan food normally, but replace what runs out only with vegan food. Again, change is more gradual than most people think. It’s the same with your finances. You can’t just apply severe restrictions (cut your spending in half) and hope you manage to maintain this forever. It’s too intense. Change tends to work much better if it’s done gradually. Doing it gradually, your mind slowly adepts to slightly different new defaults (less expenses, less calories, less meat etc.). Once you feel comfortable with the new default, you can change things up again. Your mind will be ready for it, without reaching a state of depletion. The state of depletion is the one thing you want to avoid, because it’s a state in which we are most likely to succumb to temptation.
So there you have it. If you really want to change, make sure you’re in the right mindset. Negative emotions (anger, sadness, disgust, self-loathing and being fed-up) need not drag you down, they might be what’s fueling your longer term motivation, until you can reap the rewards of your change. To make this mindset work for you, you need clear goal, do you research on how others in similar situations have reached that goal, adapt this to your own life and make it happen gradually. Making sure that every small change becomes the new default. If you are mentally prepared for changing your behaviour, make sure to stay tuned! Next article will be on using the SMART framework for achieving goals more efficiently. Making your new-and-improved-self a reality!