Has anybody ever said to you, “You are never going to change.”? I am willing to bet that if they have, it probably didn’t make you feel good. It usually happens in the middle of an argument when a negative quality of yours is being brought to the surface by a friend or family member. I have yet to hand a birthday gift over to someone and have them exclaim, “You’re never going to change!” See, that phrase isn’t one of positive reinforcement or gratitude, what it actually highlights is the disappointment and frustration brought on by most people’s absolute resistance to changing things about their life and how they operate.
When it comes to making aggressive changes, we can sometimes be completely crippled by big ideas. If major adjustments would be necessary to achieve a goal, people overwhelmingly choose to change nothing. For example, if you live in an apartment in an unsafe neighborhood, a big goal might be to purchase property in a safe part of town and eventually have a custom home built. The potential roadblock is, if you have made no small steps toward preparing for that kind of change, you will likely never get there. If you haven’t practiced things like keeping a steady job, staying out of debt, and increasing your savings, it is much easier to stay with exactly what’s been easily within your reach, which is to keep doing the same thing. You already know what is needed to maintain the life that you have. It’s comfortable, and you practice doing it every day, so you end up changing nothing at all.
When you think about the word “practice,” most people associate it with a sport or learning to play an instrument. We realize that things we don’t know how to do require practice because we weren’t just born with the ability to do them. In order to play piano, you must practice playing the piano. When it comes to making life changes, some people have an easier time, while others struggle big time. If you struggle, you must practice changing the small things, even if it is something as simple as a slight change to your daily routine. I have known people who resist change in almost every area of their life, and unfortunately, into adulthood, that resistance can even be detrimental to your health. Click here to learn more about starting healthy habits.
We all have ruts that can keep us stuck. I’ve jokingly said, “Think about it, you step into the shower with the same foot first every day.” I’ve challenged myself to step into the shower left foot first…and it feels WEIRD (you should try it sometime). It is because most of us have practiced stepping into the shower, every single day, right foot first. You just never thought about it before. The shower thing is really of no consequence, but it does represent how routines in life become second nature, almost like breathing, and we don’t even realize it.
Once you take notice of how much practicing something has to do with WHY we do or do not do things every day, you can start with one change, then, just keep doing the new thing instead of the old thing. In a situation where a person knows they need a safer place to live, a better starting point might be something that feels within their reach without creating discouragement. This could be finding a job that pays a little more and planning to stay there for at least two years, which could eventually lead to finding an apartment in a better part of town. It may not be the end goal of the custom home on 10 acres, but the confidence you gain by setting smaller objectives and achieving them will eventually lead to accomplishing grander things. When you practice changing in small ways, you become more open to changing in bigger ones.
If you have followed any fitness accounts on social media, you’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “Never miss a Monday.” I understand that this speaks to most people’s need for consistency in order to eventually create a healthy habit and routine. The idea is that, whether you feel like working out or not, missing a Monday will throw you out of your routine and you may eventually just give it up altogether. It is great advice, but what happens when you DO miss a Monday? Some days there are appointments, or meetings, or other needs that take precedence, and you might miss a workout, a practice session, or some other part of your healthy routine. Consistency is essential but it’s equally as important to learn that just because you’re thrown off your schedule, it’s no reason to abandon the goal.
I used to brag about how I rarely ever got sick, then, a couple of years ago, I got a bad flu bug. It was my routine for a long time to workout at the gym or go on a run every day, Monday through Friday (and sometimes on the weekend). I was completely out of commission for over 2 weeks. Suddenly, there I was, the girl who hadn’t been challenged for a very long time in keeping my routine, now totally off my game. The beauty of practicing healthy habits for as long as I had been was that being consistent became second nature. It was even more beneficial that through the process, I also learned that it is okay to miss a Monday (or a period of time) because I knew I’d get back on track as soon as I recovered. For more on this read, “5 Tips to Get You Back On Track.”
There is no perfect workout regime. If it’s not something that you’ll actually keep doing, it’s not perfect for you. There is no perfect diet. If you’ve already decided you don’t like it, or it’s too restrictive long-term, then you won’t stick with it, and it’s not perfect for you. If the thing that is going to keep you staying active is getting up Monday through Friday, heading to the gym, and walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes, then start with that. Once that becomes comfortable, then graduate to something else. Try a class at the gym or begin using some of the assisted weight machines.
I’ve known people who are constantly in and out of diet programs or in and out of the gym with extremely aggressive goals. Then in a matter of weeks, they either get really quiet or they disappear entirely. It’s more common than not. Sometimes, when you charge at things so aggressively, you don’t plan for imperfections or for the margin of error that will happen with every endeavor. An overly aggressive mentality is not usually synonymous with adapting or adjusting along the way, which is often necessary to reach long-term goals. Consistency is a slow and long-burning fuel. It might not look as impressive as aggressiveness does in the beginning, but most of the time it is what will separate you from the majority.
The next time somebody tells you, “You’re never going to change!” (and this may be what you’re telling yourself), take it as a challenge. Realize that you can only prove them wrong by consistently practicing something different than what you have always done. It IS possible to change.