People often ask me, “Why it is so hard to make changes?” Perhaps an even better question is: “How do we make changes permanent?” It’s so easy to drift back into the same old habits and undo any changes we’ve made. It’s also easy to give up on a process that might take longer than you expected.
Over the years, I’ve noticed a pattern in people making significant changes to their lifestyle under a wide variety of circumstances. There seem to be seven steps that people need to take if they’re going to get the job done.
This includes people going back to school to change a career; people trying to overcome addiction; people working on their debt snowball; and perhaps the most common, people trying to lose a little weight and get into shape. While they’ve not all been successful, it seems like most people had better odds if they hit each one of these seven steps. I know I’ve written about these before, but I get so many questions about it, I thought I’d reprise them for you:
1. Unfortunately, there often has to be a crisis of some sort to get our attention. It often takes something going wrong before we wake up about things. Health problems often push people into making changes in their diet and exercise, but it’s a whole lot easier to get started before you develop problems like diabetes or high blood pressure. Sometimes, someone else’s crisis can be our wake up call.
2. This brings us to an awareness of our situation. We have to realize a need before we can make a change. What you need can often be different than what someone else needs. It can be as simple as concluding that you need to take off a few pounds and tighten things up, or it can be as big as realizing you need to lose 100 lbs or you develop diabetes or a heart condition.
3. Just knowing you need to do something doesn’t get it done, however. You have to make a decision to do it. This is different. Without a decision, nothing gets done.
4. You’ve got to have a big desire to get it done. It’s going to take a big desire to get past all the obstacles that are going to come up. There are lots of things we know we should be doing, but it takes a different amount of motivation to actually do them. I’ve heard it said that until your “want-to” becomes a “have-to” it’s going to be really hard to make the changes you need.
5. Once you’ve made a decision, you need to get some information. There are lots of programs out there, with tons of information available through the internet and in books and magazines easily available. One of the best sources of information is with someone that you know and trust who has already been successful. Mentoring with a knowledgeable friend who has your best interests in mind can often make the difference between success and failure.
6. You’ve got to be accountable to someone. The more people who know about your plan, the more likely you are to accomplish it. This is called getting leverage on yourself. Your team can help keep you on track when you start drifting off the path. Your mentor can help you in this area as well.
7. Finally, and this is perhaps the most important part, you’ve got to actually just get started. All the preparation in the world doesn’t matter if you never begin the journey. You will never hit your target if you can’t actually pull the trigger. O.K., maybe one too many metaphors, but you get the idea. You’ve got to actually DO it.
Next week, we’ll take a look at how you can keep your eye on the ball (whoops, another metaphor). Until then, I hope you’ll feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness if you have any questions or comments.