3 Things You Can do to Make Change Doable and Fun
Change is hard. Our brain literally becomes wired to maintain the status quo, to repeat the behaviours that have been working to keep you safe, to highlight the fears, the what if's, the possibility for failure, or to take it right to the root, of death.
Our brain is primitive in its desire to survive, and change equals the unknown, and the unknown equals possible death.
Now that we've been honest with what keeps us repeating old behaviours, we can look at the other parts of our brain- the parts that have evolved to make us more than survival, food, sex and comfort seeking beings (at least we think we're more than that). That part of brain is the more newly evolved portion which can tap into our higher self- the part that can think about what we think about, that can dream about goals and our future, that can rationally know what's best for us, and that can follow through on over-riding our lesser evolved brain.
Here are some examples where you may have succeeded at using your higher brain to override your lower brain:
• saying no to more cake even though it's delicious and technically you could fit it in
• drawing a hard line on flirting or kissing the handsome man or beautiful women because you have already committed yourself to someone else
• getting up and going to work even though you're tired and your bed is so comfortable
• waiting until evening (or at least late afternoon) before you open some wine
• quitting smoking, drinking pop, Facebook, biting your nails, smoking weed, eating Sour Patch Kids, or other stronger addictions
• going to a social event even though you feel a little anxious about it and would rather stay home
So, how do we activate our higher brain more often so that we can create the change that we want to? Here are three easy hacks.
1) Make and proclaim your goal, and start short term. Of course, the first thing is to be overt. You need to say loud and clear what you want. However, your brain will become overwhelmed and give up quickly if you decide on something too huge and lengthy- that you're never going to have coffee/eat sweets/use Facebook at night again. Try starting with short term goals. For example: "From Monday-Thursday this week I'm going to not watch Netflix." It's a SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
2) Don't forget! Oh this is a big one. How often have to set a little goal, and then forgotten or avoided it right away (yes, me, I've done this tons of times). The key here is to not forget, and we can't depend on our own memory for that. In order to not forget, write it down. Write it everywhere, from your daily calendar, to sharing your daily wins on social media, to a goal card that you read ever morning and night and 100x in between. I've got a client that is currently using the old fashion technique of writing her goal on her mirror, with lip gloss! Classic, and awesome. If you're not the lip-gloss high-commitment kind, try writing it on a Post-It and stick it on your mirror and read it 10 times when you brush your teeth. Keep it visible in order to keep it in mind. Trust me, it's way too easy to forget. Write it everywhere.
3) Make it fun. Here's the real trick- to make it fun. Recently my husband challenged me to use all of my left over punch passes from the gym and the pool. We decided I'd have 3 weeks, and he'd treat us all to a feast at my favourite restaurant if I did it. If not, I'd have to treat him and my 5 year old son to any cake in the bakery they wanted. That little challenge was all I needed to get myself off the couch and do it. So what can it be for you? Perhaps you can enlist a friend to create a little challenge, or offer yourself a pre-decided reward if you succeed. Sometimes even something as simple as putting money in a jar, or moving marbles from one side to the other to represent the times you accomplished the daily task. If it's something tangible and concrete and interactive, you'll have a higher chance of success than if it's all just happening up in your head.
The thing is, we're human. And we have to have compassion for that. Most people want to jump into big change when they have an idea, but big change usually sets us up for... not success. We need to build up our change muscle just as you would your bicep muscle. You wouldn't enter the gym and lift a 20 pound weight every day to succeed at lifting 20 pound weights. You's start with 5 pounds, build confidence, strengthen your muscle, and when it felt easy, you'd increase the weight. We need to build our change muscle. So start something today (or Monday). Make your bed every day, honour your bed time, prep your breakfast or lunch the day before, do 10 pushups a day, switch from coffee to tea for 5 days. Just choose something, and start. Build your muscle, have fun, feel the pride of small success, then use your strength to take on a bigger goal.
As always, I'd love to hear if you've decided to work on something and what you're going to do to make sure you succeed (choose and declare, create visual reminders, and make it fun). Email me and let me know!