Firstly, don’t change for anyone else.
Change must come from within. Sure, someone or something might prompt you to make a change, but unless you truly believe that there is need for change then it won’t be sustainable. Perhaps someone you care about is particularly disenchanted with something you’ve said or done. Maybe they have highlighted this as being a recurring issue that you need to address. If this encourages you to reflect on your behaviour, and you conclude that there is indeed need for change, great. But ultimately, it must be your decision. Just remember, you may not be the only one that stands to gain from your positive change. So be wary of who you allow to influence your decisions, and make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.
So, you’ve established the need for change.
Good start. Critical self-reflection is indeed a sign of intelligence. And as a contrast, one of the biggest cop-outs is “everyone should love me for me!”. Well, that may be true in many cases, but not if you’re a selfish, nasty individual. So anyway, you’ve highlighted an area of your life that you believe could use some improving. Is it an area that you have direct control over? Hopefully. Relying on other people’s change in order for yours to be successful is not a wise move. This should be a consideration before you embark on your important and life-changing journey. Okay, you’ve established that your change is necessary and in your direct control. Now you need to develop a course of action that will help guide your change.
What does your area of change physically look like?
That is to say, what actions are you trying to change? Your area of change will likely relate to a particular pattern of behaviour, so you need to understand specifically what actions you need to change. You should also consider the situations in which you are likely to perform these actions, so that you can be aware of when these negative behaviours are most likely to strike. Once you’ve considered that, you then need to consider those actions that will embody your new and positive change. Consider why these actions are important to your overall success, and the resulting positivity that will come of them. Now all you need to do (in a nutshell) is sub-out the bad actions for the good ones…
Is sustainable change really that simple?
You probably already know the answer to that question, so we won’t patronise you by saying ‘no’. In our article about laziness, we noted that creating a new habit can take some time. Changing or breaking a pattern of behaviour can also be challenging, and won’t happen overnight. It will take hours of critical self-reflection, and possibly some foreign and uncomfortable situations. Whilst we are speaking quite broadly, these feelings of discomfort/uncertainty are generally a pretty good sign that you’re on the right track. After all, it can be quite confronting to reflect on a situation from your past and realise just how far you once were from the person that you are trying to become. There may even be times when you once again find yourself making the same poor choices that you have been consciously trying to avoid. Absorb the negative emotions that come with this, and accept the consequences. Remember the disappointment and use it to motivate you. There is an element of trial and error in most things we do in life. So, do not judge yourself on your mistakes, but rather on the way in which you respond.
Accepting past mistakes (and their consequences).
Again, our mistakes do not have to define us. But whilst you’ve been on your journey towards enlightenment (good for you), your mistakes of the past have not been erased. Nor will they. Ever. Whilst it would certainly be convenient to simply say ‘I’ve changed, therefore I should not face consequences’, it may not seem particularly fair to the person/persons that you once wronged. Imagine a system where inmates could be paroled on account of their personal belief that they had changed (Australia circa 2050 if our justice system continues to head in the current direction). If you are truly committed to positive and sustainable change, you need to understand the following dynamics of control: The control that you have over your actions, and the control that you do not have over the consequences of your actions. Take responsibility for your mistakes, and rectify them/seek forgiveness where possible, but never deny them. This is an important learning mechanism that can be a major driver for sustainable change.
A final thought…
Be the change that you want to see in society. Lead from the front, and don’t be afraid to stand up for what you know to be right and true. Absorb the negative emotions that come with each of your inevitable failures. This must happen before you can experience true success, just ask MJ. Have the strength to be accountable for your actions, and remember that it is okay to adjust your behaviour and your views, as you learn more about the world and your environment. And, whilst you embark on your journey of change, your idea of what success looks like might also change too. Finally, you will make mistakes, so pride yourself on how you respond to them.
Thank-you again for reading! We really hope that some of today’s post was of benefit to you. Perhaps you’d like to leave us a comment below? Until next time…