The Secret to Making Lasting Changes

Think you cannot change? Many of us already know that we need to improve our state of wellbeing in order to extend our lives as we age.

Making changes is traditionally difficult, but the good news is that it is never too late to make changes for the better.

The first step is to understand what is important to you, and then determine the choices and decisions that represent where you want to be. Maybe you want to start a new career, lose weight, stop smoking, or start exercising. Whatever the change is, be sure you understand why you want to make the change. 

Take a moment to think about a time in your life when you made a successful change or developed a new habit. What was your motivation for the change? What was your attitude at the time? What obstacles or barriers did you have to overcome? Your level of readiness to change will determine how successful you are, and how much time it will take. Once you make the decision to change, you must practice that new behavior one day at a time until it becomes a habit – a lasting change.

Embracing the concept of change is a big thing, because interestingly, many people think they do not have a choice when it comes to change. Why? For some, it is fear, guilt, love, pain, time management, or even a court order. What motivates one person may not be the same thing that gets another person to act. Everyone reacts differently to changes, whether voluntary or mandatory. 

To start making a change, let go of certain assumptions or ways of doing things, to make room for new ideas. Work on this one day at a time until you feel comfortable. This often comes into play with sedentary people who want to increase their activity level (people who work a lot and do not have a lot of time to exercise). One complaint could be, “I don’t want to take an hour or 30 minutes to walk.” Instead, the initial solution could be several two-minute intervals that would equal 30 minutes throughout the day — just stand up, walk around and visit people throughout the office, for example. Other than exercising, you can become more sociable as a result! After becoming more comfortable with walking, you can increase up to 10-minute intervals three times a day. With the gradual increment over the course of a couple of months, you can be walking 30 minutes at one time and enjoying it.

To make a lasting change, you start wherever you are and stretch a tiny bit more each time. If you fall off the wagon, or experience resistance, identify the cause or circumstances— who you were with, where you were, or your emotional state. The key is to get up and get back on the path again. You may go back and forward a few times because making a lasting change takes effort and determination.

Your level of readiness to change will determine how successful you are, and how much time it will take. But you need to be ready, able and willing to make change happen.

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