3 Ways to Sustain the Changes that You Have Made

So maybe you have overcome or are working on overcoming a flawed mindset and may have even overcome some barriers to change.  Now comes the hard part.  Maintaining the change that you have worked so hard to make.  This in of itself can be a monumental task.  Here are a few things that you can do to maintain your change.

  1. Reset if necessary.  It is almost inevitable that you will slip back into old habits.  Do not become discouraged.  You are more than capable of making whatever changes that you desire to make.  Remember this as you reset and continue those changed behaviors that you have already began to implement in order to reach your ultimate goal.  Try not to dwell on your setback.  Just move forward and try again.
  2. Anticipate challenging areas.  The best way to achieve success is to know where your challenges lie.  If you know that you always eat unhealthy foods for lunch when you are at work, pack you a healthier lunch so that you do not even have to be tempted to buy something unhealthy.  Or if your goal is to journal or meditate or anything else that requires time that you feel you currently don’t have, try to wake up earlier and do whatever your goal is before you begin your day.   The goal is to see what could possibly present a challenge and plan around it.
  3. Maintain positive attitude.  Let’s face it. Change is not easy – especially when whatever you are trying to change is something that has become a habit.  Stay positive.  Remember why you decided to make this change and keep that in mind as you maintain your changed behavior.  Try your best to be kind to yourself and be mindful of your self-talk.  You can make and maintain your desired change!

What would you add to this list? Comment below with what you has helped you sustain any changes you have made.

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4 Barriers to Lifestyle Changes and How to Overcome Them

In my previous post I discussed mindsets, now let us discuss some of the things people would like to change. Most of us have something that we want to change as it relates to our lifestyle. Some people want to eat better, some want to be able to sleep better some want to become less anxious or stressed, and others want to feel more satisfied. All these things go back to a change in lifestyle because all these things are connected.  Exercise and a better diet can lead to having a better mood. A better diet and more sleep can lead to less stress. Improving all these things can lead to improved mental health.

Leading a healthy lifestyle has so many benefits. There is absolutely nothing negative that can come from a healthy lifestyle. The benefits of a healthy lifestyle include a reduced risk of cancers and diabetes, improved memory, improved mood, improved cardiovascular health, among many other things.

Changing your lifestyle sounds easy but it can be particularly challenging. Let us briefly discuss some things that can be barriers to lifestyle changes.

  1. Not enough time. This is the first thing that is normally said when someone must incorporate something new in their lives. Between the responsibilities surrounding work, home, children, and so much more, finding time to implement anything new can be a challenge.
  2. Old habits die hard. If you have been doing something for many, many years and decide that you now want to change, it may not be as easy as you thought. What often happens is that change is easy in the beginning but once things get challenging, we often resort back to our old habits.
  3. Procrastination. The discomfort of the change in our routines and habits make us continue to procrastinate. Procrastination will have you talking about something forever but never moving forward.
  4. No motivation. Any kind of change is extremely difficult if you are not motivated. Lack of motivation to change your lifestyle will either have you not changing or not having sustained change even if you happen to change for a moment.

I do not want to spend a lot of time on barriers, but I think they barriers should be identified so that they can be recognized for what they are. You will be able more likely to make a sustained change if you can identify the things that will hold you back and make plans to combat those things. Now, let us talk about ways you can overcome those barriers.

Incorporate change into daily routine

Since the number one barrier is lack of time, try ways to make changes in your daily routine. It is hard to incorporate a major change like cooking healthy meals or starting an exercise regimen overnight. If the change you want to implement is your diet, start small. Purchase healthy foods at the grocery store or make healthy choices if you eat out. Or if you want to exercise more, instead of purchasing an expensive gym membership that you may then feel you have no time to use, try to incorporate more walking into your day. Park further away from the entrance to where you want to go or walk around while waiting for your child to finish their practice instead of sitting in your car. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, incorporate small changes into your daily routine.

Set small goals

 It is sometimes best to set small, attainable goals on your journey to change as opposed to making sweeping changes overnight that may not last.  This can be helpful when making a change such as eating healthier.  Instead of tossing out food from your old diet and buying all new food, you may want to consider slowly buying new food and incorporating your new, healthier food into your diet slowly.  Over time you can let your unhealthy food choices go and eat more of your healthy food choices until your entire diet is made up of your healthy food choice.  You may decide to eat healthy twice a week, the four times a week, before changing over to health food completely. 

Accountability partner

An accountability partner is someone who can ensure that you maintain the goals and commitments that are made when you are trying to change something.  Before you get an accountability partner, you need to ensure that this is someone who will be completely honest with you. You also need to ensure that you are ready to receive whatever feedback that the may give you.  The role of an accountability partner is to cheer you on when you are doing well but to also let you know if you start to slack off your commitments and goals.  Accountability partners can be great if you are looking to change and are willing to accept honest feedback.

Reward yourself

Rewarding yourself is a great way to stay motivated as you work to make a change in your lifestyle.  The caveat to this is to ensure that your reward is not detrimental to the change you are trying to make.  No matter what your goal is, it is okay to have a cheat day if that cheat day is not going to pull you back into your bad habits.  A good reward could be something such as binge-watching your favorite TV show, treating yourself to a night out or staycation, or allowing yourself a weekend morning where you can just sleep in. The point is to reward yourself for a job well done as you continue to make the changes that you want to make.

Be kind to yourself

Do not be hard on yourself if you have a setback.  Setbacks will inevitable happen especially if you are breaking a habit that you have had for an awfully long time.  If you have a setback, just get back on track and pick up where you fell off.  It is okay and no one is perfect.  Establishing a different lifestyle, even if it is a healthier lifestyle, can be hard to do so cut yourself a break.

So many things can be addressed when you say that you are going to change your lifestyle.  Lifestyle encompasses everything to your diet, your habits, your preferences, and even how active you are.  Changes to some of these will come easy while changes to the others will be a little more difficult.

Have you ever made a lifestyle change? Were you able to maintain it? Share what worked and what did not work for you.

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The 3 Types of Mindsets that Can Hinder Change

Your mindset can be one of the hardest things to change.  This is mainly due to the way that we arrive at our mindsets.  Mindsets are often formed because of our upbringing, culture, life experiences, and beliefs.  Mindsets tend to be deep seated and can often be a challenge to change.

I wanted to take a moment to discuss mindsets because you must be aware of the mindsets that you hold when considering how you respond (or not) to change.   Let us explore a few mindsets.

Optimistic vs. Pessimistic.  The optimist sees life through rose colored glasses.  Everything is good, and if something bad happens, the belief is that things will get better.  The pessimist believes that everything is always dark and bleak and if, by chance, something good does happen, they will believe that is a fluke.  When the subject of making any type of change comes up, it will take more effort for person with a pessimistic mindset because the first battle will be the negative outlook on the change.  You would have to get past this negative outlook before you could begin to take the steps to make the change.

Immediate success vs. Process.  This is one that I am currently working on.  The conflicting mindsets of a persons who wants overnight success versus the person that feels that everything is a process and success is attained one step at a time.  The good thing is that no matter what the desired change is, a person with each of these mindsets will try. The person with the mindset that everything is a process will be more likely to succeed as they will understand that setbacks and bad days are a part of the process of change.  The person who believes in overnight success will be more likely to quit at the first setback or if the change comes too slowly.

Hard work vs. Lucky break.  There are those who believe that success comes from hard work. These individuals understand that change is a process but that it also involved hard work.  Anything worth having normally involves some kind of hard work.  The person who feels like success only comes by the luck of the draw will not truly try to make a change.  If a half-hearted attempt at change is made and they fail, they will assume that the change was not meant for them.  I see this a lot when people speak of professional goals.  Some people believe in working hard to get the recognition needed to obtain a promotion.  Others believe that it is all about who you know, and skills and knowledge does not really matter.

Let us consider these mindsets in the context of change.  Can you really be successful with a diet if you believe all success should be immediate and that you will not have setbacks?  Can you realistically begin to work towards a dream or a goal if you believe that successful people are only successful because of who they know and not because of hard work?  Here are a few ways that you can change your mindset to see the change that you are working so hard for.

 

  1. Clarify what you want to change.  It is important that you know the why behind your need to change your mindset.  If you can identify the reason behind the change in mindset, the change is more likely to last.
  2. Make the decision to change.  This sounds like a lot like the first point but there is a slight difference.  The first point is speaking to knowing why you should change – this point is you deciding to change.  Many of us can know the benefits of a change and still not decide to make the change.  So, a definitive decision to make a change is necessary.
  3. Challenge your thoughts.  Any type of change can be hard and changing a mindset is no different.  When old thoughts that are connected to old habits begin to push their way in, it is imperative that you make a conscious effort to push back against those thoughts and focus on your new positive thoughts.
  4. Give yourself a break. Mindsets were not formed overnight, and they will be not be changed overnight.  Give yourself room to have a set back if you go slip to your old mindset and ways.  Just be conscious of this, reset, and move forward.
  5. Change actions.  Operate in the actions of your new mindset even if you are still working to completely change your mindset.  If you have determined that the change is your mindset is needed, begin to act as if your mindset is already changed.  It may feel unnatural at first, but you will eventually begin to walk in your new mindset and habits will begin to change.

What mindset pattern or patterns do you fall into? What do you think can help you come out of it?

Join me next time where I will be discussing lifestyle changes.

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4 Barriers to Overcome to See Sustained Change

I have always believed that feelings of restlessness or discontent were signs that some sort of shift was about to occur. I have been feeling this a lot lately – in many areas of my life. From re-examining my personal goals to even my re-examining the direction of this blog, I have had a heightened level of anxiety whenever I considered the different levels of change that was needed for me to get to where I wanted to be. It was such an odd feeling. Wanting to do more but almost feeling stuck when it came to doing what needed to be done to see a significant change.

Change can be hard. For some, significant change can seem impossible. During this series on change we will be talking about different aspects of change and how we can overcome whatever may be preventing us from making significant change.  People seek to make one of several types of changes to include changes to their financial situation, changes in their jobs, changes in their diet, changes in their lifestyle, the list goes on and on.

Let us look at why making changes can be so hard for some people.

  1. Being afraid.  Oftentimes people desire changes but are apprehensive about how that change will look. Some of us take such comfort in what is known – our routines, our habits, our jobs – that we will stay where we are instead of changing. Snuggling in and getting comfortable in your comfortable zone will make real change virtually impossible. The unknown of how life will be once the change comes or being unsure if the change can be maintained can make some of us unable to take that first step towards change.
  2. No motivation – There are times when people may desire change but have no real desire to do what is necessary to make that change. Many things can contribute to the lack of motivation, but this lack of motivation can make it hard to move forward toward any type of meaningful change.
  3. No clear goals. It is extremely hard to get motivated to make a change if you have no clear goals. You may feel as if you want or even need to make a change but if you do not have a clear vision of what you want that change to look like then you will always feel like nothing is changing. Attempting change with no set goals will result in you always trying to change but always being disappointed because you do not have clear enough goal to know when have achieved it.
  4. Pride. There are times that you may need to make a change, but your pride keeps you from doing so. Not wanting to admit that change is needed can keep you from the change that you may so desperately need to change your life.

What other barriers would you add to this list?

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In the next few blog posts we will be talking about different things people often need to change. As we discuss and you determine whether they apply to you, keep these barriers to change in mind and check to see whether you are guilty of any of these. And if you find that you are guilty of some of these, do not be so hard on yourself. Just make the necessary adjustments and try again to make that change.

Join me next time as we discuss changing your mindset.

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Mid Week Reflection: Make “One Day” Today

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Have you ever had so many wonderful thoughts about all of the wonderful things you wanted to do but never actually did them?  Everything is going to be done “one day”, “someday”, or “one of these days”.  One day I am going to write a book. Someday I am going to make myself a priority.  One of these days I am going to start eating better.  If this is you, do not feel bad because this is me and several others also.  The problem with “one day” is that the days pass and you end up looking back and realizing that you have been saying the same thing for months, if not years.  I encourage you to just start.  Start today!  Whatever that thing is that you are itching to do but just waiting on the right time, start now. You may be wondering if it is really just that simple and the answer is yes. We sometimes overthink things by believing that the timing has to be just right or that certain things must be done before we can begin. But that is not true. Just start. Once you start you will find that a lot of things will just fall into place. Find one thing that you have been putting off and start today with baby steps or start by jumping in headfirst – but just start.  What will you start today?

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Surviving Survival Mode (Part 3)

So how can we begin to come out of survival mode? Here are a few tips.

Acknowledge that you are in survival mode. A person in survival mode can rarely put the mental energy into recognizing that they are in survival mode. I had to be completely out of survival mode to realize that I had been in it. Once you can acknowledge that you are in survival mode, things can begin to change.

Breathe. Breathing can be extremely beneficial as it allows you to slow down your thoughts and relax your body. Taking deep, cleansing breaths can give you the energy and the opportunity to see outside of the present moment.

Begin making plans.  As stated before, making plans is hard when you are in survival mode. Making plans and having something to look forward to can help because it will break the daily rut of just surviving until the next day.

Accept help.  If someone is genuinely offering you help, please take them up on it. Accepting help with just one thing could give you the moments you need to breathe and clear your head.

Some final thoughts on coming out of survival mode.

This is not your lot in life.  If you identify with being in survival mode, take solace in the fact that you do not have to continue operating in survival mode.  You can get out and stay out. 

Move forward.  When you finally make your way out of survival mode, do not look back.  Keep moving forward, continuing to do those things that worked to get you out of survival mode.

Plan. Plan. Plan.  Always have something to look forward to.  Whether it is having brunch with a friend or planning some alone time for yourself, give yourself something to look forward to.

Survival mode is easy to get into but can sometimes be difficult to get out of. Try not to be too hard on yourself as you go through this process.  Comment below if you have ever been in survival mode and what it looked like for you.  If you were able to get out of survival mode, share how you were able to do that.

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Surviving Survival Mode (Part 2)

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What are some of the signs that you are in survival mode?

Not Being Able to Plan Ahead.  Being in survival mode makes it extremely difficult to see beyond the present moment. If you are lucky you can plan for the next day, but a few days or even a week ahead is virtually impossible.

The unexpected and unplanned causes a meltdown.  To be able to halfway maintain your sanity in survival mode, everything must fall perfectly into place. Any unexpected request or slight change of plans could cause one to become upset because there is only enough mental energy for the things you have planned.

Shy away from major decisions. In survival mode you only have the mental energy to get through the day. Having to make major decisions in survival mode is almost impossible. The mental strength needed to think about something major is just not there.  When making a major decision in survival mode, you either (1) run the risk of making a decision that you hopefully do not end up regretting later or (2) you procrastinate and do not decide at all. Honestly, neither option is good.

Days go by in a blur.  In survival mode the only thing that you are really trying to do is make it to the next day. Because of this, the days begin to blend to where something that happened a month ago can feel like it happened yesterday. Your concept of time is blurred, and you are only focusing on what is going on right now.

You are always tired.  Even if you think you are getting enough sleep, your brain is in overdrive because it is just trying to make it from doing today. Being in survival mode is exhausting!

Tomorrow we will be discussing getting out and staying out of Survival Mode.

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Surviving Survival Mode (Part 1)

What is survival mode?

As someone who has had the experience of living in survival mode for a significant period of time, I would define survival mode as being present in the current moment and only having the mental energy to make it to the next moment.  This week we will be discussing survival mode – what it looks like and how to get out.

Let us explore a few ways that people end up in survival mode.

Traumatic life event. Unexpected life events, like the sudden death of a loved one or a life-changing diagnosis, can put you into a space where all you can do is just make it through the day. Some people can get through life-changing events while maintaining a sense of normalcy.  Others go into a lower level of functioning and begin operating at a level that is just enough to get them through the day.

Financial Distress.  Layoffs, furloughs, and unemployment have pretty much defined these COVID-19 times. The thought that you will not be able to provide for your family can be terrifying. The stress and fear associated with being in financial distress coupled with the desperate need to provide for your family could get you to the point where you begin living day-to-day with no real direction.

Being overwhelmed.  This is what put me and so many others in survival mode. Having so many daily responsibilities that could lead to becoming overwhelmed with life, we run the risk of getting not being connected to anything other than the things that need our immediate attention.

Many other things can put you in survival mode, but these are a few of the main ones. Tomorrow we are going to discuss how you can tell that you are in survival mode and how you can get out.

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Mid Week Reflection: Focus on the Things You Desire

There is always the possibility that something could go wrong.  You can finally start that business you have been dreaming of but be fearful that it will not take off as you want.  You can have your eye on a certain position at work but be fearful that someone else is selected for that position.  I am not here to tell you that bad things do not happen – we all know that is not true.  What I am here to tell you is that focusing on our desired positive outcome is more productive than focusing on our fears on the things that could go wrong.  Focusing on the things that can go right will keep you moving toward your goal.  Focusing on the things you fear is more likely to get you to a place where you begin to doubt your goals.  And if there is enough doubt, you will lose your motivation to even try to reach your goals.  Losing motivation will cause you to become stagnant.  To be successful, you must focus on the positive and only the positive.  What will you do to change your mindset to only focus on the things you desire?

Procrastination: What are You Waiting For? – Part 1: Mental Exhaustion

I am going to speak for myself today but I am almost certain that I am speaking for a couple of other people also.  Many of us have such full schedules that just the thought of adding another task is exhausting.  Exhausting to the point where I put it off again and again and again – you get the picture. 

I believe that we often make goals with great intentions but sometimes the idea can be great but the actual implementation of the idea is a different story.  The same can be said for the things we have to do like making an appointment and essential things that must be done in day to day life.  Just the thought of doing these things can be mentally exhausting.  Often, procrastination gets us to a place where we put these things off and then we end up feeling bad about putting them off.  This puts us in a bad place mentally.  This can lead to feelings of guilt and anxiety about not getting things done and the list continuing to pile up. 

So how can we combat this? The first step would be to not allow ourselves to get mentally exhausted and overwhelmed in the first place.  Taking mental breaks by stepping outside, stretching, or taking a nap goes a long way in helping our brain slow down from racing with the millions of things that we need to do.  To help with procrastination that is due to mental exhaustion, break down your tasks so that they are not overwhelming.  A good friend of mine suggested selecting one or two things on your to-do list daily and literally schedule them into your day.  This actually worked for me once I realized that I was so mentally exhausted that just the thought of adding something else to my list was too overwhelming.  And the thought of the energy that would be needed to actually complete the task was even more overwhelming.  For me, using the alarms on my phone helped me to get things done at different times of the day to avoid feeling overwhelmed – the times I actually could do it.  Remember the goal is to be productive so take your tasks in small chunks to avoid being overwhelmed.  Hopefully, you will not become mentally exhausted if you break things down in a manageable way. 

Coming Up Tomorrow: Fear of Failure