Are you ready for change? Are you ready to become who you’ve always wanted to be? You can do it, but it will take commitment and time and a lot of personal growth.
HOW DO YOU WANT YOUR LIFE TO BE DIFFERENT?
If you are thinking about changing your life for the better, one way you can start is by identifying your goals. You are probably hoping to find some version of happiness or emotional wellbeing that might look like any combination of the following:
- Having a sense of freedom
- Having self-esteem
- Having self-confidence
- Being happy to get up in the morning
- Having goals and are working toward them
- Having a sense of purpose in life
- Having satisfying relationships
HOW CAN YOU INITIATE PERSONAL GROWTH IN YOUR LIFE?
When you decide to change your life, try the following ideas:
- Explore your feelings. Write in a journal, talk to a trusted friend, or work with a professional counselor.
Envision your future. Make a collage, do a guided visualization, talk to a friend or counselor, or research the possibilities.
Explore wishes and dreams. Talk to a trusted friend or work with a professional counselor.
Be open to new ideas. Take a class, travel, say “yes” to things you may have avoided in the past.
Look for kindred spirits. Avoid people who make you feel bad about yourself, seek out those who make you blossom, or reach out to those with similar interests and dreams. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can do wonders for your personal growth.
Try something different. Deliberately buy new items, try different brands, shop at different stores, do the opposite of what you usually do, see different movies, or read different kinds of books and magazines. Prepare to get out of your comfort zone to see true growth.
Set goals and targets. Learn how to set useful goals, set them and follow through with them, evaluate your progress regularly, and reward yourself for achievement.
Take one step at a time. Divide your goals into tiny pieces and do one small new thing each day, starting now.
Look for lessons. Remind yourself that experiences are not good or bad but simply lessons.
WHAT IF I’M RESISTANT TO CHANGE?
Have you ever noticed that when you think about changing your life you feel resistant? Many people say that not only do they feel resistant but that they actually do things to keep their lives familiar, such as starting a diet and then eating a candy bar on the first day of their diet or quitting smoking and then sneaking a puff.
Here are six effective strategies you can use to make yourself less resistant:
- Eliminate clutter. Clutter can be viewed as a sign of uncertainty. Accumulating “stuff” might be stopping you from makes it difficult for you to zero in on the really important things.
- Start small. Thinking of your overall goal can be overwhelming, so manage your resistance by choosing one small part of your goal and attacking it today. Let’s say your goal is to lose 20 pounds. Accomplishing that goal can certainly seem impossible, but it will seem more doable if you say to yourself, “I’m going to lose 5 pounds by X date.”
- Disprove your disempowering beliefs. In Reinventing Your Life, authors Jeffrey Young and Janet Klosko suggest that you identify the beliefs that keep you from succeeding. To dispute those beliefs, the authors suggest asking yourself, “Is there really an evidence today that this belief is true?” They suggest making a list of the evidence.
- Remind yourself of all of your available options. You always have alternatives and the power to choose among them.
- Take responsibility for what you want. Look for signs that you are blaming your situation on others or not admitting past mistakes. Acknowledge them and move on.
- Visualize the future. Author Barbara Sher suggests one way to do this: Write an imaginary press release about yourself, as if you are writing from the future after you have accomplished your goals. What is it like? This will give you extra motivation to continue pursuing your goals.
HOW TO MOTIVATE YOURSELF TO REACH YOUR GOALS
Setting goals is an important part of achieving personal growth. But how do you stay motivated? In December, for example, plenty of people resolve that come January 1, they are going to start a diet and exercise program. Others say they want to quit smoking or go back to college or learn a new skill. A few weeks later, their enthusiasm is gone and the goal is soon forgotten. How do you stay motivated so that you can accomplish those goals that are so important?
1. Identify your goals and state them in a way that will motivate you. The best goals are fully defined visions of how you want things to be. The more specific, measurable, and challenging goals are, the more motivated people are to attain them.Good goals have these five elements:
- They are expressed using action verbs.
- They are written with specific language.
- They specify measurable outcomes.
- They challenge you without being unreachable.
- They specify completion dates
2. Identify subgoals. Break a goal into smaller, more manageable chunks. Each chunk is a subgoal that will help you reach the larger goal. Like your large goal, make the subgoals specific and spell out the deadlines.
3. Make a complete plan of action. Decide what you are going to do and when. Write it on your calendar and review it regularly.
4. Take the first step, however small. This is very important. If your goal is to weigh 130 pounds by June 1 and your subgoal is to join Weight Watchers, your first step could be to find out when the next meeting near you will be held and write it on your calendar.
5. Find a partner. If you have a friend, coworker, or neighbor who is working toward the same goal and you enjoy the person’s company, ask him or her to be your buddy. If your goal is to complete your college education, ask your buddy to come to the Adult Education Open House next Tuesday. Or if your goal is to get more exercise, round up a group of neighbors to walk through the neighborhood three evenings each week.
6. Visualize yourself having achieved each of your goals. The more real you can make your visualization, the better. Here are some tips:
- Find a quiet place where you can relax undisturbed.
- Sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and imagine yourself doing the thing you want to do. If your goal is to lose weight, visualize yourself at your target weight. Notice what kind of clothes you are wearing and how you are feeling. See others looking at you and imagine what they are saying. Let yourself enjoy the feeling. After you open your eyes, write about the experience.
- Go through some magazines and cut out pictures that represent your goal. If you want to save enough money to buy a house, look for photos of the kind of houses you are looking for. If your goal is to get a degree from a certain university, put up a banner, bumper sticker, or other school-related items around your house. Put these items in places where you can see them, such as on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror. Anytime you feel like giving up or not working so hard toward your goal, look at this reminder of what you are working for.
7. Put it in writing. The act of writing down what you are going to do and actually making a contract with yourself is a strong motivator. If your goal and plan are not written down, they are more likely to remain vague and are less likely to become reality.
Your contract with yourself should include a goal statement and the steps you will take to reach your goal. It should also include what your reward will be for achieving the goal. Read the contract at least daily—better yet, read it each morning and each night. This process will help you be more committed to your goal as each day passes.
8. List the benefits of achieving your goal. Knowing exactly what you will gain from reaching your goal is a strong motivator. For example, let’s say you are a woman weighing 170 pounds. You have gradually put on weight since you finished school and have gained 50 pounds over the years. Your goal is to weigh 130 pounds, which is realistic for a woman of your height and age. The benefits of achieving your goal might include these:
- You will be proud of yourself and of how you look.
- You won’t be embarrassed about seeing old friends and acquaintances.
- You will feel better.
- Your health will be better.
9. Describe your ideal life in the future: 1 year, 5 years, 10 years. Write a few paragraphs describing what you have accomplished and how your life is better as a result. Use the present tense, as if it were happening right here, right now. This is another way of making your vision real.
10. Make a list of the obstacles that stand in the way of your chances for success. It is important to think of everything that might block you from being successful. Using the weight loss example, you might list things like this:
- I lack willpower when I am tired, hungry, and depressed.
- It is difficult for me to resist high-calorie foods when I attend a party or business dinner.
- Everyone in the office goes to the cafeteria for lunch. There are few healthy food choices available there.
- I am tired when I get home and often don’t want to cook.
11. Decide what you can do about each obstacle. Design a plan to reduce the influence of each obstacle and increase the chances that you will be successful in reaching your goal.
12. Learn what you need to learn. If lack of information or skill is blocking you from reaching your goals, make a plan to fill in the gaps. Build this into your action plan.
13. Be willing to study and work hard to reach your goals. Think about how much time and effort will be required and decide whether you can commit to that right now.