Change is what most of us want, and whether or not we admit it, we’ve got a list of things we’d like to change about ourselves.
The problem isn’t that we want to change. Change is natural and inevitable.
“Every single thing changes and is changing always in this world.” – Saigyo
The problem with change is that we beat ourselves up when we fail to change in the way we want, and we do it so often it becomes a cycle that creates the future; an endless loop of disappointment and self-recrimination.
When we really want to make a change, but feel defeated before we begin, is it possible to succeed?
It’s unlikely, as the vicious cycle is too ingrained and the negative feelings too strong. This is in spite of the fact that you may still have a strong desire to change.
Desire is the important first step in the process.
Think of all the times you tried to change, and the promises you’ve made to yourself.
How many of those promises did you keep? How many were successful?
Instead of judging ourselves harshly for failing to change, let’s take a look at some common beliefs about change.
Fact or Fiction?
Fiction: It takes 21 days to change a habit.
Fact: It can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days, with the average length of time to successfully form a habit coming in at 66 days.
Fiction: All you need is a desire to change.
Fact: A desire to change is essential, but it’s only one of the steps in the process. It has to be accompanied by readiness, and a willingness to act.
Fiction: Once we act, change should be quick and long-lasting.
Fact: Change is a process, not a one-time event. The most effective coaching or therapy takes this into consideration, and encourages the development of a sustainable practice.
Fiction: If it hasn’t worked, you don’t really want to change.
Fact: Successful change includes slipping back into old behaviors as part of the process. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow every time.
So many limiting beliefs that keep us from the change we so desire.
When we’re inspired to change and make a promise to ourselves, that promise comes from a real and true intention.
Another obvious but often overlooked truth is that to change a behavior, we first need to catch ourselves doing it.
The problem is that if we do catch it, we judge ourselves for doing it, and get caught up in our thoughts, and limiting beliefs from the past.
Do the Work
The world of personal development offers solutions for any problem. Like you, I’ve read the books, taken the programs and workshops, and still been disappointed by the outcomes.
Those solutions often fall short.
And what happens after you’ve read the book, or come home from a weekend workshop?
That workshop high usually disappears within days, and we’re left once again to our own devices, which almost certainly lead back to past behaviors.
What’s missing is implementation.
implement – verb
: to carry out; put into action; from 17th century Latin, implementum: to complete, satisfy, fulfill
How often do you follow through, take action, and keep your promise?
Desire must be followed by action.
We mistakenly place the responsibility for change with the book or workshop leader. Or we believe that working with a coach or therapist is the solution, as if the magic happens in the sessions.
We give up our power, forgetting that transformation – true change – happens in between sessions, when we’re doing the work of implementation and taking a promise or commitment to completion.
The work of implementation is ongoing, and can seem boring, or repetitive. Instead of resisting, or using it as an excuse to quit, it’s important to develop personal practices.
When we’re connected to spirit or devotional energy, the work of implementation can lead to profound state changes.
When our fears are stripped away and we see clearly what we want for ourselves and why, we’re better able to make and keep our promises. We become more willing to do the work that’s involved, and that paves the way to ‘get there from here’.
In my experience, it’s more effective to do this work in community where we see ourselves in others. The compassion we generously give to others is reflected back to us, and that glimpse of our humanity helps us stay true to what we want.
When that happens, ‘getting there’ becomes less important than the experience, and the journey takes on a level of ease and flow that leads to greater success.
The 100 Day Promise: Well-Being from the Inside Out begins today, with registration open until January 18, 2014.
Click to join us here.