The New Year tends to be a time that we think about making positive changes, whether it be creating new habits or making healthier choices. Often though, we consciously may want to make these changes permanent but they tend to be short-lived.
The subject of change and how we resist it is an interesting one. The nature of evolution relies on change. Life is full of cycles and natural transitions; the change of the seasons, the changes our bodies go through as we grow and get older. And with the advances of technology and science we’re constantly moving and changing with the times and what’s new and innovative. But if change is so natural and inevitable then why does it often feel so unsettling and uncomfortable?
There are a couple of reasons that our brains don’t like change;
We are creatures of habit and learning something new takes a lot more effort than just following the same habits or actions that we’re used to. To change the way we do something, at the beginning our brain has to work harder to focus and concentrate, making it more tired. The brain would rather work less Jand so it may come up with all sorts of excuses to stop us from learning something new.
Another reason change is difficult is because the mind’s ‘job’ is to keep us safe and well. The brain favours familiarity and routine as this makes the job of keeping us safe easier. When we consider doing something that’s outside of our comfort zone, again the mind may create lots of reasons, fears and ‘what if’s’ to stop us from venturing into the unknown.
Here are some tips to make change easier;
- Focus on making onechange at a time, trying to change everything at once is a sure recipe for overwhelm. When we become overwhelmed we tend to throw in the towel and give up. Master one change or new habit before starting to change something else.
- I recommend writing the following questions and answers down, this will consolidate your decisions and reasons for making the change and also strengthen your commitment to taking action.
- List each change that you want to make and underneath write down the benefits of the change? Be realistic about the time frame in which you will start to see the benefits i.e. you may not get the results you want immediately, but in time.
- What are the negatives of notmaking the change? Note these down.
- “One may walk over the highest mountain one step at a time”- John Wanamaker. Break down the actions needed to make the change into manageable steps. Make a plan with the first 5 small steps you can take to start making the change.
- Just start with the first step as soon as you can and follow it with the next and so on. And you’re on your way!
This article first appeared in the January 2019 issue of SE22 magazine.