CHANGE | happiness | new year’s resolutions | 5 ways to manage anxiety
Do you want change? Almost everyone has something about themselves or about their lives they would like to be different. It can be something small or something that feels insurmountable.
Whether it’s a simple change or not, the process is the same. There are steps in the process of change, you apply the steps to the easy, small challenges as you do with the bigger challenges.
Now of course, something small is going to take less time and effort than something bigger but you will follow the same steps. Regardless of the scope or magnitude, you can make changes to be happier, healthier, and more at peace with yourself.
So, let’s begin at the beginning. To change you first must know what it is that you want to change and what that change looks like. Can you visualize it? Hold it in your ‘mind’s eye’. What is it that you want? It’s got to be very clear and specific to you, you must be able to visualize it. Knowing what you want to be different is the first step.
The second step is to write down the whys. Why do you want this change? Why will you be happier with this change? How will your life be better after this change?
The third step is to start building it as an intention. Write it down in your journal, put it on a post-it note at work, or put it in your phone as a daily reminder. Write it someplace where you will see it regularly. This helps move you towards change. It’s the prompting – it’s the constant reminder of what you want that gets change to happen.
The second and third step frequently get revisited. It is a part of the process of change to go back to reminding yourself of the intent of the change and the benefits of the change. It is helpful to know what pulls you against the change? Who are the people, places or things that can cause you to slip up?
The fourth step is to ask yourself how can you make this change happen. Take your time and really think this through realistically. What do you need to start doing differently or in place of, to make the change happen? Break it down into small do-able pieces. What’s going to get you there? For example, making a shopping list and only getting what’s on the list, scheduling a ½ hour every day to look at new job listings; when you are out getting your mail, walking around the block once then twice around the block and build on that; every morning find one thing you appreciate about your partner and say it out loud to yourself. What are small manageable steps that you can start to take towards the change.
Please, be positive here! Visualize the change, think positively about it, imagine that it has already happened. You must be able to visualize it and believe it’s possible before you can achieve it.
The fifth step is to accept some defeat, some setbacks, and not to give up if it didn’t go as you thought it would the first time. No negative self-talk. It might, occasionally work out the way you hoped, but probably some of the change will and some of it will not occur. I know nobody wants to hear this, but this an important part – a very important part – of change. You must accept delays and setbacks. To change, you can’t let yourself be subverted or disappointed. You don’t give up when it doesn’t go the way you wanted it to. It is rare for anything to easily fall into place in life. Change requires consistent efforts. Failure is a part of change. Think of ‘F.A.I.L.’ as standing for ‘first attempt in learning’.
You’ve got to accept that change doesn’t work quickly. Or it may work for little while and then you’ll have a setback or relapse. That it can feel like you’re back to square one, but you’re not, you’re in the process of change. Pay attention to what got in your way. What is the need or urge that got in your way? What did you learn about yourself?
Finally, realize that the change doesn’t often look the way you thought it would. There will be change though and it will be in the direction you are striving towards. Progress is slow and requires patience, but if you understand and work with the steps of change, you will achieve change.
By: Rachel F. Beck, LCSW-C