Making lifestyle changes is difficult, and it is worth it. For many people, when it comes to deciding to make healthy lifestyle changes with the goal of improving their health, the expected difficulty can become a billboard-sized “STOP sign.” The mere thought of how difficult the change is likely to be can be stressful and cause some individuals to freeze.
Seeing change as unavoidably difficult is one of the many forms of resistance to change. Another form is the common assumption that the person changing will have to miss out on all of their favorite things. Additionally, given the very common negative messages provided by media and other sources on the subject of making changes, it’s easy to view healthy shifts as utterly impossible.
Considering the buildup of these separate forms of resistance to change, it’s easy to see why change remains uncommon and many struggle to achieve optimal health. All of that said, the perceived likelihood of difficulty is the topic of this article.
In terms of healthy lifestyle changes, there are three categories that stand out as the most likely to result in significant beneficial results. The categories are dietary changes, moving the body, and getting away from man-made medications and other toxins. While making changes in any of these categories is likely to be difficult, the long list of benefits that could result makes the difficulty worth it.
Implementing the following list of empowering tips can shift one’s overall mindset to be equipped and more ready for change. These mindset shifts are all achievable with practice, and confidence is built as the process of change unfolds. This way, rather than an intimidating and overwhelming gigantic leap to the top of a mountain, the step-by-step journey toward better health becomes both possible and empowering.
Five Empowering Tips
What can we do to make lifestyle changes more of an empowering process? Here are five tips to start seeing healthy lifestyle changes as empowering instead of impossible:
1. Become aware of, and replace, old habits that lead down the path that’s always been taken, with new habits that lead to growth and happiness. It’s easier to replace a habit with a new one than to try to just kick the old one to the curb, with nothing to take its place. Despite the common message that everyone has to do everything on their own, becoming aware of one’s habits, and how they affect decision-making may require hearing an alternate perspective.
Why is this important? It’s because many people convince themselves that their habits are simply part of who they are as a person. It’s so common to hear declarations like “That’s just the way I am.” Or, “I’m that type of person.” Statements like these effectively send the message that the individual is convinced that they have no choice in the matter and that there’s no decision to make.
The unpopular truth is that all habits are a series of semi-conscious decisions, no matter how longstanding they might be. Bringing awareness to the habit and how it affects decision-making is a critical step toward lasting change.
2. Switch from focusing on what change is desired to the reasons WHY it’s important for the change to occur. One step in this switch is taking the time to be specific about the reasons by imagining all the benefits that are likely to result. The real magic starts when individuals can imagine that they’ve already accomplished the change.
Taking it a step further, it’s encouraged to not only think of all the reasons WHY it’s important to get past challenges or make positive changes but also to come up with a way to check in daily with those reasons. Vision boards are an example of this.
Contrary to what most people think, the reasons WHY the desire to change exists are very important to the process. They’re important because the reasons WHY change is desired are typically more closely connected with emotions than what is wanted. Given the connection between emotions and lasting change, those who seek change can use this to their advantage.
3. Start to see failures or setbacks as learning opportunities rather than dead-ends. Simply put, failing at least once is almost always a part of any type of positive progress. If the decision is made to learn from mistakes, failures, or unexpected roadblocks, giving up on the intended change in the face of them is far less likely.
Learning from slowed or stunted progress allows people to become empowered by the newly learned information. From there, they can pick up where they left off or try again with the new info supporting their efforts. Additionally, practicing patience and tolerance with oneself when setbacks occur is critical.
4. Undergo the mindset shift from focusing on what could go wrong or on what will have to be given up during changes to thinking about what could be gained, possibilities, and about opportunities. It’s very easy to list the risks it takes to make the change and quickly fall back on something like, “It’s not worth the difficulty or the risk.” Or, “I’m not good at change.” Or, “I can’t do that.” Or, “I’m too busy.” Or…
To cover all bases, it’s wise to take stock of the risks or barriers on any journey rather than to ignore them and become surprised by roadblocks later on. Taking stock allows for making informed decisions without overthinking these potential lurking demons. Too much focus on possible pitfalls can lead to diminishing, or blatantly missing out on, golden opportunities.
What if more focus is put on what could be and on what’s possible? It’s less complex than many people think; one has to simply look for, open up to, and focus on possibilities and opportunities more often than focusing on risks, roadblocks, or barriers.
When making changes, the direction of one’s focus matters more than blubber matters to a whale. The best opportunities seem to present themselves more often when the focus is purposefully placed on desired possibilities rather than risks to be avoided.
5. The tip that may be the most important of all is understanding that ambivalence is normal and to be expected. In other words, most people simultaneously want to change AND want to stay the same in any given situation.
That being the case, most people experience conflicting and fluctuating motivation along the journey of shifting lifestyle habits. Expecting ambivalence around the shifts one wants to make, and expecting that there will almost certainly be peaks and valleys along every journey, makes change much more manageable.
If lifestyle transitions were easy, it’s unlikely so many people would struggle with them. Accepting these truths helps with understanding that no one is alone in seeing change as a difficult prospect to consider, putting them on level ground with others.
The Age of Transformation is upon us.
The Age of Information showed the world that having facts and knowledge at the fingertips doesn’t necessarily make changes easier, nor does it necessarily lead to positive change. Instead, it’s more likely to lead to overthinking and overwhelm, often referred to as “paralysis by analysis.” Using only logic and reasoning to make decisions has led us to where we are in this world. It’s time to try something different for size.
Since positive change is so closely connected with emotions, facts become secondary when it comes to successful and lasting lifestyle changes. As an experienced mindset coach, I encourage readers to use these tips as stepping stones toward the person they want to be and to transform away from making decisions about health and happiness solely through logical analysis. Instead, get the facts needed to be able to make informed decisions while letting the love in your heart and letting your gut instincts become part of the decision-making process.
When these tips are followed, making changes becomes a manageable prospect. When energy is put into (1) replacing old habits with new ones, into (2) the reasons WHY one wants change to happen, into (3) learning from failures, (4) focusing on possibilities instead of roadblocks, and into (5) understanding that parts of each person want to change while other parts don’t, the person is positioned for success with long-term lifestyle changes.
Bonus tip: For me and many others who have made healthy changes, having a coach to help you see different perspectives and to act as your accountability partner is the secret accelerator pedal for journeys on this road. If you’re ready for change, I believe you can do it on your terms and I hope these tips help you do so.