Here are 5 things that will help us on your journeys through change, whatever your changes may be!
1) Commitment: By understanding that changes require a commitment to ourselves, and readying ourselves for any obstacles that may come our way, or for any opposition by others to our decisions, we will place ourselves in a good position to follow-through on our plans for change. When we don't commit to change, we are only letting ourselves down. Remember this, and be accountable to you!
2) Perseverance: If you hold this tool in your emotional arsenal, you will never be without a defense. Perseverance is key to ensuring the changes you want to make in your life will materialize. Perseverance is most valuable when we struggle with maintaining our new habits or way of living. Visualizing your end-goal, and what you really want your life to be like is what fuels perseverance. On average it takes a smoker 7 attempts until they finally quit*. That's on average! This means there are some people for whom the number may be closer to 10, and some for whom it may be much less than 7. Knowing yourself, and staying true to your goals is what will help push you through difficult periods during change!
3) Visualization: I mentioned it in a previous point, but it bears repeating. If you can't keep the carrot-on-the-stick in sight, you will lose motivation. Since most changes are not tangible (quitting smoking, learning a new skill, moving out for the first time, leaving a toxic relationship), we need to visualize our new selves, and our new lives that our changes will bring us. Visualize yourself finally being free of the patterns and habits you've practiced over the years, and embracing healthier ones. If your goal is to lose weight and practice healthy eating, visualize and really feel what it will be like to be the healthier you. Whatever your goal and your reason for change, visualize the outcome.
4) Breathe! Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Take some time to be mindful, breathe properly and center yourself before burning out. An often-used and well-known cliché term, "Rome wasn't built in a day" also applies to personal change; it won't happen overnight. On average, it takes roughly 66 days to form a new habit.* Depending on the magnitude and type of change you aim to be making, adjust this to anywhere between a few weeks and a few months (even upwards of 8 months!).
Now, if your goal is to increase the amount of water you're drinking per day, or throwing in a bit of exercise everyday, the amount of time to automate this as part of your routine will be less than changing lifelong habits (such as the types, amounts and timing of the food you eat, for example).
With all change, however, the point is to remember: it takes time, and be patient with yourself! You will get there if you want it bad enough!
5) Seek support: Friends and family are automatic go-tos when we need support, so why not lean on them when you need some help during your period of change? Chances are they will be encouraging, and may even want to enact some change in their own lives! You might serve as inspiration for them! Being able to support each other will go along way to ensuring each of you meet your goals. If friends and family as a support-network are not options, consider joining a group in your community. If you are aiming for weight-loss, for example, join or start a walking or running group, or join classes at the local gym. Whatever works for you is best! If you are planning relationship/personal-changes, meet with a counselor specific to your interests and go from there. Also, career-fairs and informational sessions are very helpful when planning a change in your career. A certified career-counselor will also be able to assist you on your journey.
* Information from HealthBC
* Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C. H. M., Potts, H. W. W. and Wardle, J. (2010), How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 40: 998–1009. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.674