Five MORE Simple Rules for Creating Real Change
And there are many other ways to create real change. The art of change, like most things, benefits from acquiring many many powerful little skills little by little. So lets go over other skills for change that can be just as useful as the first five.
Here are five MORE simple rules for making goals and changing habits:
- Use Reminders. Sometimes it’s just hard to remind ourselves to work on our habits. We have an entire lifetime of not working on our goal to contend with. But this is one of the easiest issues to resolve. We just need to find novel and personal ways to remind ourselves. Do you always check your phone? Bam! Put a reminder on your phone. Do you want to exercise before you eat? Bam! Put a reminder on the front of the fridge. Reminders are one of the rarely used, and most helpful skills for changing habits.
Try: Downloading an app that will send you a notification reminding you to meditate every day.
Try: Putting a yellow sticker on the light switch near the front door as a reminder to grab extra water before you leave the house.
- Make It Easier To Do Then To Not Do. Is it easier to turn on the TV then to go outside for a walk? It sure is! But it does not have to be. Changing the accessibility of things in your house can help you change your habits. Many of the things that get in the way of us changing our habits have been designed for ease of use. We don’t even need to leave our couch to turn on the television anymore. And this can become a real burden if we find ourselves over and over again moving towards our old habit (like television watching) and away from the new ones we are trying to create. But it’s also fairly easy to take away that convenience. How easy will it be to turn on the tv if we get rid of the remote? And if we unplug the tv? And if we unsubscribe from our cable network? And if we remove the tv from the living room and have a friend take it to their house for a month? Watching tv suddenly gets very hard! And we can apply the same strategies towards making the habits we are trying to instill easier to reach. If we are trying to get up earlier in the morning we can put our alarm on the other side of the room. That way when it goes off it will be easier to get out of bed then to just hit snooze. It’s all about making the habits you want to have easier to do then the habits you don’t want to have.
Try: Leaving your credit cards at home and only bringing them with you if you have a list of things you need to buy.
Try: Making it more difficult to play video games by placing the controls at a friend’s house so you have to contact them and go to their house to get the controllers back.
- Be Kind To Yourself When You Relapse. This can be a difficult one for many people. None of us wants to move backwards on our goals. Usually when we find that we have backtracked we feel like failures and criticize ourselves. But relapses are a part of the journey of change. Relapse is so much a part of the journey that we should actually be working under the assumption that we will relapse rather than the assumption that we will not. Working on habits gets a lot easier when we recognize our own patterns, build relapsing into our plans, and then help ourselves build a system to minimize the extent of the relapse.
Try: Recognizing that you will most likely relapse in your effort to control your temper. And if you are afraid you won’t notice if you start to lose your temper on family or friends again, try asking family to let you know (NICELY) if you seem to be falling into old habits.
Try: Recognizing that you will most likely relapse in your efforts to eat healthy. And if you find yourself snacking whenever you see the candy jar at work, don’t berate yourself as a failure. Just notice that walking past that part of the office is hard for you and try to plan accordingly to decrease the chance of a relapse next time.
- Relax! You are working hard, and part of learning how to change yourself is also learning how to give yourself the breaks and check-ins you need. Working too hard and not giving yourself chances to relax can be just as destructive as not working hard enough. If you need a break, take a break. Listen to your body. Some people may feel that this is wrong, thinking “what if a week-long break turns into a life-long break”. But instead of letting this fear cause you to feel afraid of honestly assessing your need for a rest, just try to be honest with yourself. Are you taking a break in order to avoid your goals or to give you the rest you need to accomplish your goals? The best rule of thumb is, if taking a break today makes it impossible to do the work tomorrow then maybe it’s not a good idea. But if it seems like the break will give you some much needed rest and energy for tomorrow, then go for it!
Instead of: Exercising with the goal of playing through the pain NO MATTER WHAT!
Try: Checking in with your body. Are you feeling the pain that comes with exercising the right amount, or is this pain your bodies way of telling you it’s hurt and needs to heal or rest.
Instead of: Feeling like you have the flu and ignoring this feeling so you don’t miss your meditation.
Try: Recognizing that it’s healthy to take care of yourself and set aside goals for small periods of time. You don’t need to meditate through the flu.
- Slow And Steady Wins The Race. Change is inevitable, but it is also gradual. We must give ourselves permission to change slowly because it is only with this permission that we have time to make the big changes we want in life. Fast change is often not possible. What is possible is maintaining the fortitude we need for slow and consistent change. Stamina and strength comes from an awareness of all the little accomplishments we make. While you are waiting for the big change, allow yourself to notice and feel excited about the little changes. They are important to celebrate. After all, you know how hard it has been to make those changes. And noticing the small changes you have made will help you to continue to feel motivated.
Try: Checking in on your mood once a day by keeping track of how positive or negative you feel on a scale from 1-10. Then, ever few weeks, look back at how it has changed over time and notice the overall change in feeling since you started.
Try: Writing yourself a letter once a month talking about where you are in your efforts to create healthy sleeping habits, what you have accomplished, and what you are still hoping to accomplish. Then go back and read the letters whenever you need a boost