I ran across a quote today that got me thinking. The quote said, “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing – that's why we recommend it daily. ~ Zig Ziglar”
This is a much more profound statement than it may seem on the surface. One of the reasons most people fail in changing their lives is they do something for a short period of time and when they don't see the immediate results they expect, THEY STOP! Consistency and persistence are two of the single most important characteristics in succeeding. However, there seems to be a common, yet faulty mentality that if we do something a few times, that should be adequate to see us through for the long haul. NOT SO! Could you imagine bathing or brushing your teeth every day for 2 weeks, and then forgetting to do so for the next 3 days? What kind of an outcome could we expect? Not a very hygienic on, that is for certain! So what would we do? As soon as we realized we had forgotten, we would bathe and brush our teeth again! Right? Well, this is no different. You wouldn't say, "Oh, I blew it. I forgot to bathe or brush my teeth for so long, I just won't ever bother trying again!" That would be ridiculous!
Making lasting changes in our lives requires a commitment to DAILY action and consistency, not just periodically exercising the the new drill when we remember or feel like it! We often fail to realize that many of the negative influences in our lives have become deeply embedded habits that must be replaced with new behaviors. If the new behaviors are not acted upon consistently and for a long enough period to become habit, we simply revert to our old programming as soon as we become slack. Once we find ourselves slipping back into old habits, we get discouraged and throw in the towel, thinking we will never be able to conquer our old inner demons. This is simply not true.
They say it takes 21 days to make a new habit. I have found that to not always be the case. Old habits die hard sometimes and may require a bit more persistence than simply 21 days, as many of you have learned first hand. The key to success in making new habits is NEVER GIVING UP! If you do well for 2 weeks and fall off your horse, get right back on! If you mess up for a day or two and then get right back into your new routine, it will not take much time to recover from that short lapse. If, however, you get discouraged and let the lapse continue unnecessarily for a longer period, it will be that much harder to begin again and maintain that momentum. The longer you wait to begin again, the more difficult it becomes.
The key is always to IMMEDIATELY get right back into the new behavior, as soon as you recognize you have faltered. We all make mistakes. We all have difficult days. The difference between those who succeed and those who do not is how we choose to behave after recognizing the lapse. Be kind to yourself. Get out of the bad habit of beating yourself up when you make a mistake, yet do not excuse your mistakes and allow them to continue. Acknowledge you made a wrong turn and have fallen, get up, brush yourself off, and begin to move forward again in your new desired direction.
You will find that everyone has lapses in the beginning. Change takes time. However, you will also find that with practice, those lapses become fewer and fewer and more time passes in between them, until you find yourself not even having to think about your new behavior any longer. It will become an automatic response with time and practice.
Another stumbling block in bringing effective change is attitude. If you believe you can do it, you can! If you believe you can't and that you will fail, you will. Our thoughts and beliefs are powerful forces that will bring to fruition those things we focus on the most. If our focus is fear of failing in this new attempt, well then, we may be in trouble. Instead, place your focus on your expected, successful outcome. See yourself successfully implementing your new way of life, and delight in the thoughts of the positive outcomes. Imagine what your life would look like now if you had already mastered these new goals. If you place your focus here, on the positive, expected outcome, you will be pleasantly surprised with what happens next!
One last thing to consider is starting small! Don't start by choosing the most difficult change you can envision! It's so much easier to take on another project when we have others successfully under our belt. Each time we successfully reach a transformational goal, our self-esteem is boosted and our confidence is increased, which makes us more apt to take on the next challenge with enthusiasm and great expectations. Start with something smaller and as you pass each new milestone, you will find the strength and confidence building that will be necessary to take you through the tougher journeys.
Remember, the most important things you can do to effect changes in your life are:
1) Engage in daily, consistent behaviors to create new habits to replace the old ones.
2) If you stumble, immediately get right back up and continue in your new direction.
3) Place your focus on the positive, expected outcome.
4) Start small to build confidence.
Practice makes perfect and the more habits you successfully transform, the easier the next process becomes! I hope these thoughts and suggestions help shift your habit building processes into successful ventures that take you to the next level!
Love and Light,
Laura Corby :)