Welcome friends to Episode #84 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. We often have the best intentions when it comes to making a change in our lives. Whether we’re making shifts to our health, wealth, work or relationships we decide to do something new and different for a reason. Why then do we start to plateau or even revert back to old behaviors that don’t serve us? Today, we’ll discuss 4 ways to make change last.
1. Making space for change
The first way to make change last is by making space for change.
The other week I was in San Diego for an event as part of my retreat facilitation work. I haven’t been traveling much in the last several months so as I began packing for the trip, I realized that I had too much. It wasn’t all going to fit in the bag, so I began the process of removing some items from the bag. There was one item that was taking up a lot of space that wasn’t really necessary and I had added it in at the last second. That was the item that had to go. Suddenly, there was enough room. Enough room to close the suitcase and for me to bring something small back.
How many times in our lives have we said we wanted to make a change and a shift but we don’t make space for it in our lives? We want to wake up earlier, but we don’t go to bed earlier. We want to add in an extra project, but nothing comes off our plates. We want to focus on our family life, but we don’t want to change how or when we focus on our work lives. We want to make more money, but we don’t make the proposal or offer. We want it all, yet we don’t really.
This is one of the ways I know that we don’t actually want the change as much as we think we do. If it was really important, we would have done it by now.
Yet, I won’t have you stop and give up there. Making space for change comes from our ability to identify why we want this new thing in our lives. I can’t bring anything back in a suitcase that’s already overflowing, can I? You can’t bring anything new into your life from a place where there’s already too much. So we take a look at the things in our lives that take up a lot of mental or physical space and time. We remove those and we spend days or months just figuring out how to make those things less important and the new thing more important. We shift everything every single day.
Old patterns of behaviors aren’t easy to change overnight. Most people think that all they have to do is decide one time, but really they have to decide every single day that this is still important to them, especially if they are doing it by themselves. When you’re in a community, organization or relationship where you are supported in this change it makes it a lot easier to actually pull it off and have it stick. This is why we have support groups or communities, which leads me to the second way to make change last.
2. Scheduling Inevitability
After events, training, listening to a podcast, or reading a book, you’ll likely have a newfound sense of change. You’ll decide you want to change and you get started in a burst of inspiration. This is inevitable. This lasts for a while, but you need repeated reinforcement or inspiration to remind yourself of why you’re doing it in the first place.
This is one of the reasons that I went to this San Diego event in the first place. Yes, it was a part of my facilitation work but I also knew that it would give me a boost of inspiration and remind me why I plan retreats. This is the reason I have my own coach and that I’m part of communities for all the work that I do whether it is training and development or spirituality.
We naturally plateau, but when we are being challenged by others to continue to rise and commit to ourselves in ways that serve us and those around us, we continue to evolve. Our journey of evolution doesn’t just come from repeating the same habits and behaviors in our daily lives, it comes from trying new habits and behaviors over and over again until we see what worked, what didn’t work, and what we would do differently.
Humans were meant to be in community and conversation. To connect to others through our shared experiences and struggles and to also find help and inspiration from each other. If we are trying to do it all alone it will feel exhausting. If it feels exhausting, you won’t want to continue on. For the sake of you and those around you, find something that can help you be pulled forward effortlessly. Sign up for training or workshops regularly. Sign up for a coach. Sign up to be a part of a community and watch how you start to move more effortlessly towards the life you desire.
What community does for us is it brings forward from inside us that which we have a hard time articulating. This brings me to the third way of making change last.
3. Telling other people
The third way of making change last is to tell other people. We don’t have to tell everyone, but the more we share the change with others, the more likely we are to commit and to follow through. It is a sign of commitment to talk to someone about what is happening. The more micro-commitments we can make, the more this gets embedded into our daily lives.
You might find that you just want to tell one person, and that’s ok. There’s something powerful that happens when we articulate a vision, even if we’re not sure how it’s going to happen. We also allow other people to stay on the journey with us. Some of us love to change so rapidly that others have a hard time keeping up. In the beginning, this looks to be a sign of your growth but over the long-term, this will be one of the ways that you lose people. There may be people that you lose that aren’t a big part of your life where there is very little investment into the relationship from either party, but there are likely also people that you want to stay close to.
Whether this is your team at work or your personal relationships, informing people of changes you’d like to make ahead of time is one of the most important ways we can keep people with us and hold us accountable to doing what we say.
Sometimes, I’ll have clients practice what they want to say with me because they’ve never articulated their new goals or desires to someone else. The more important something is, the more emotions it can bring up about what it means to try to change this or why they are looking to change in the first place. If you’re a driver or someone who tends to override emotions at work or in your personal life, you are used to coming from a place of strength and power.
Change doesn’t always look like strength and power, however. It might signal a sign of vulnerability that something is “wrong” and we need to make it “right”. Vulnerability can feel challenging if you’re not used to it.
I’d love for you to reframe this sense of vulnerability however, to see it as bringing up what’s “real” versus “ignored”. It’s very likely that the thing we want to do has been ignored for a while, and it takes courage for us to bring the unseen to the surface and make it seen.
It is a sign of personal leadership when we can confront the hard things, not from a sense of “right” and “wrong”, but from a place of “where do we go from here?” Let’s remove all the personal drama and stay close to what is actually happening right now. Right now, you might know something is better for you and everyone else if you were to attempt a change. All the reasons why it hasn’t occurred before doesn’t really matter. What matters is right now.
4. Not Giving Up
We often fail our way to success. The difference between success and true failure is giving up part way through.
If you can stay with the present moment as we make this change, you’ll have a multitude of opportunities to try again and again.
It is a complete falsehood to believe that we should only be successful and feel good all the time. However, this is a falsehood that many people have sold you and as a result, you feel pretty bad about yourself. We compare and despair. Someone else has done it faster. Other people have it easier. When is it my turn? Why am I still not where I want to be?
If you haven’t yet figured out by now, life is actually pretty difficult and it gets more difficult as time goes by. Our scope expands at work. Our relationships get more complicated. Our responsibilities at home become greater. We have to care for aging parents, the neighbors, our kids, other’s kids, and the list goes on.
If we let the weight of all of this feel like a burden, it will be. Instead, we make things feel easier by becoming more resilient and mastering our emotions, thinking and concepts of ourselves as one who can ride all these waves, day by day.
Making change last is a day by day process. There’s no need to rush into the future of “what if it doesn’t work?” or go back into the past of “would-have or could-have or should-have”. What if it does work? What if all you have is this moment right now?
In summary, change isn’t something that happens. It’s constantly occurring and our ability to transition day by day into that change is going to be affected by a multitude of factors, outside and within our control. These 4 things I shared with you today are within our control. Making space, scheduling inevitability, telling other people, and not giving up.
If this topic resonates with you and you want to see transformational results in your life, you’ll love coaching. Getting coached consistently is the spark that will light the fire of inspiration to make the change you’re looking to make. It is the first step in creating clarity, making a massive shift and moving obstacles out of your way so you can move forward. You can go to www.mayempson.com/contact to learn more.
If you are interested in how to create meaningful and purposeful goals, I’m holding a workshop on 12/12. Go to www.mayempson.com/yourbestyear to sign up. We will craft a year of your best life. You will not want to miss it. I will see you there.