Turning self-awareness into change isn’t an easy thing to do. You can see this in so many daily life examples that turn into New Year’s Resolutions. How many of the following list of Time Magazine’s Top 10 Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions have you tried?
- Lose Weight and Get Fit
- Quit Smoking
- Learn Something New
- Eat Healthier and Diet
- Get Out of Debt and Save Money
- Spend More Time with Family
- Travel to New Places
- Be Less Stressed
- Drink Less
The thing is we all know these things will improve our wellness. Yet we continue to set these goals each year. So how can you change this self-awareness into a change that is sustainable?
The problem with resolutions is that they are missing the most important ingredient
Before you can start something new, you need to understand what is happening now. This means getting to know your patterns! This is without a doubt the first step towards change or even healing. How can you possibly know how to heal if you won’t face what you need healing from. But the hard stinging truth is… even when you know it doesn’t mean you will change.
In fact, usually, you simply re-label your existing patterns with new buzz words and pretty flowers so they smell better and fall right back into those habits. We do this because we feel safe there. Our habits our patterns are part of us, and to change them is scary, vulnerable, and takes immense courage. What self-awareness does however is give you everything you need to know to make the change. What it doesn’t give you is the momentum to change.
Before reading on, take a few gentle moments and think about what has gotten in your way of change before?
Taking the leap from self-awareness into change
My journey to healing has become a source of inspiration and helped to reshape my life vision. But as Henry Ford said…
So what does it take to change? I have found that the most important work is internal. It isn’t about big action plans and strict schedules. It is about self-reflection, knowledge, and understanding.
Step One, Acceptance
I know this sounds like an oxymoron. I mean how can you be both accepting and changing at the same time? What I’ve found is that if you are honest with yourself you really can’t have one without the other. You see in order to change my habits I first have to accept them for what they are. How and what they are currently serving in me and love myself anyway.
Here is an example, I LOVE chocolate. I could tell you all kinds of stories about how I will limit it and enjoy it in healthy quantities. But the truth is, if it is within reach I will eat it. I won’t even stop breathing. That’s ok, let’s face it it’s kinda yummy. So how do I accept it?
Only through acceptance and understanding can I truly find my vulnerability. Within vulnerability, I can look at myself without filters and see what is truly happening. Understand why, and then look clearly at what change I might want, why, and how. It is here that true change begins.
This meant learning to not have it in the house, to find something I really love that I can have in small quantities and still feel fulfilled.
Step Two, Know your why
Many people will tell you that to change something the first step is to plan out some big action plan and then make it a habit. This includes things like putting it in your calendar, give yourself reminders, and getting an accountability buddy. They will talk about how long it takes to make something a habit. But the truth is that will only work for so long. You while these are all good ways of making change happen, they don’t address the core of the issue. Without connecting with and understanding your why, this like many other changes you have tried to make they will fall away returning you to your patterns once again. This is why acceptance has to come first, how can you get clear on why you want to change if you aren’t clear on accepting what you are changing.
This may sound easy, but getting clear on your why is actually the hardest step. Let’s look at an example, let’s say the goal is “I want to lose 30 pounds”. When you ask yourself what your why is you will likely say things like, I want to wear a size blank or I want to have more energy. But the reality is if these surface-level answers were the answer you would have done it already. The real why is much deeper down.
Take a look at this iceberg. You see the reasons we typically connect with are the ones above the surface. In fact, our why is much much deeper than that. So why do I want to lose 30 pounds? Yes I would like a smaller pant size, and yes I would like more energy, but those are all outcomes. In fact, they have nothing to do with how I will feel or how I won’t feel when I reach my goal.
In fact, the desire to lose weight really has nothing to do with the actual weight. It has to do with how you feel, how you want to feel, and what will change with or without it.
Here is a common example, many people eat because they are stressed, this means if we are focusing on the food and weight the solution will not come. Because the solution is in addressing the stress.
Here are some questions that can help you connect to your true why
- How will I feel when I reach my goal? Close your eyes and imagine you already reached this goal. Don’t just think it, feel it.
- Where are you feeling it?
- What does it feel like?
- How is it different from how you feel now?
- What will this change mean to you?
- Are you working towards a feeling or away from a feeling? (this is a hard one, be gentle)
- How will I know I have succeeded?
- What will be different when I am successful?
Step three, face the challenges
Before you jump into setting a plan for success, identify what will get in your way. What hurdles will you face? Who will support or sabotage you? How will your patterns show up and when? And the most important question: How will you reconnect with your why when you face these?