When Changing Is Hard… 5 Steps To Follow Through

changeishardChange can be good, and it can be bad.

Yet somehow, it’s the bad changes that are easy.. and the good changes are hard.

Eating more and less healthy is easy, at least for me. And eating less and more healthy, is hard.

Exercising less is easy, too easy. Exercising more is hard.

In the interest of transparency, I have a confession to make. I’m less than a month into this blog, and already I’ve managed to not follow some of my own advice.

I was going to completely quit watching TV, and spend 40 hours a day doing productive things… but I failed. But that doesn’t mean that it’s time to give up, no.

It’s time to readjust and start again.

Plus, I have a secret weapon. A few steps that will help anyone achieve anything(slight exaggeration).

Step#1. Forgive And Forget Your Mistakes

Dwelling on how you failed will avail no good. Forgive yourself for the mistakes. Think a little about why you failed, and when you started to fall off the wagon, but don’t go into hours.

If you find yourself still thinking about it a few days into your renewed endeavor.. take a deep breath. And think “what’s done is done” or even “I forgive myself for failing once”.

Nobody is perfect.

If you berate yourself for not being an exception, you are being ridiculous.

(Tio: Jump straight back into it. It will make you feel better about yourself, and keep you busy as to not start worrying again.)

Forgiving yourself is the first step. Once you’ve completely let go, it disappears from your mind on it’s own.

Step#2. Take Yourself Seriously (Don’t Second Guess Yourself)

It’s easy to second guess yourself when your own advice is hard to follow. What do I know? But from the minute you start meeting resistance, take that as a confirmation that you’re on the right path. That you know what you’re doing.

You know more than you think.

Give yourself some credit.

It will make following your own advice and plans a lot easier.

(Tip: If you know someone who is struggling in a similar way, explain your ideas and plans to them. When they’re impressed and tell you that “wow that makes a lot of sense”, it will help you realize that you know your shit.)

Step#3. Readjust.. Commit To One Thing At A Time

My greatest problem right now, is that I relapsed and started watching lots of TV. Somebody put me onto Suits, and I became hooked. I “had” to finish it.

Thankfully, I’ve watched all the episodes that are available, and that makes it easier to focus. Focus on becoming less like Litt, as entertaining as he is, and more like… Harvey? (I’m not sure there’s a single good role model in that show… anyway)

So I’ve decided to keep TV watching to one hour a day. And in the interest of actually getting something in return for the time I spend, I’m going to only be watching Japanese shows, to keep the language fresh in my memory.

(Tip: Start with the easiest thing. It gives you momentum for when you tackle your bigger issues. It’s like those annoying upsells. Once you get going it’s hard to stop.)

Step#4. Find Better Substitutes

In my last post on making good time investments, I mentioned walking when the time difference between the bus and walk is less than 20 minutes, because it gives you the opportunity to get a decent amount of exercise done on a daily basis, without having to put in a lot of time.

Part of what makes quitting a bad habits hard, is the free time you end up with.

Sometimes they are obvious. Like in my case. But other times, they are not.

Entertainment has deep roots in my life.. I am an entertainment addict. It’s very unlikely that I will be able to instantly stop without spending a lot of dead time just thinking “I’m so bored” over and over. It’s a bad habit of mine. So what do I do? I find substitutes. Music most notably. But not just music. Music + reading, music + writing, music + walking.

(Tip: You are already doing something similar that is actually not a bad habit. You can increase the time you spend doing that. If that doesn’t work for you, use it as inspirations for a new one.)

I know that some of you will argue that music is still a drug, and that I have to give it up if I truly want to experience life… but for now I’m trying to focus on one thing. Less TV, more productivity. Wait.. does that count as two things? Hmm.

Step#5. Hold Yourself Accountable

When you’re about to misstep, or you just had a minor misstep, instead of thinking “what the hell!” and overstepping some more, hold yourself accountable. When you start breaking the rules, it’s incredibly easy to continue.

Think of it in terms of your favorite ice cream…

It’s a lot easier to not eat or even think about it, when you haven’t had any.

It’s much harder to stop one spoon in. (Sorry for reminding you of the existence of your favorite ice cream… but it was necessary.)

(Tip: Proclaim your new project unto the masses. Make sure at least your closest friends know what you’re doing.)

Even if you’re not going to follow any of the other advice, at least know this.. it’s exactly when your own advice is damn hard to follow that it’s most likely to be right on.

Change is hard.

Change can be painful even.

Your mind doesn’t want it. It rejects it.

Don’t worry if you’ve failed once.

Power through.

Become who you want to be.

If you could change anything about your habits, what would you choose?

P.S. Yesterday my content was shared almost up into the double digits for the first time ever. That was awesome, thanks to everyone who contributed to the high score. You know who you are.

P.P.S. I like people who share my stuff or comment. Actually, I am going to assume that I like everyone that takes the time to read through my thoughts. So let me know who you are. Leave your thoughts.

Picture by Jan Willem Van Wessell

 

14 Responses

  1. SJ Scott October 11, 2013 / 1:34 pm

    Ragnar,

    This is all so true. Change is VERY doable, but as you pointed out, there will be missteps, one of the huge points of failure are people not understanding that a single “oops” means that you you failed, it just measn it is time to buckle down and get back to it.

    • ragnar October 11, 2013 / 5:13 pm

      Yeah changing is really quite difficult at times. The most important thing is, as you say, staying the course.

  2. cj October 12, 2013 / 1:10 am

    Ragnar! At this time I like my habits although this has not always been the case. I am keen to talk about #4. I am very fortunate to have the guitar. Composing, practicing or listening to the guitar could take up most of every day if I let it and I always feel that it is time well spent. But then I love writing and fitness and reading too, so they must be fit in. I really need a few more life times.

    I think I like eating and drinking a bit too much, now that I am commenting. But I did manage to sub in fruits and veggies for burritos and cheeseburgers. Beer will probably never go. Have a dandy weekend!!!

    • ragnar October 12, 2013 / 1:13 am

      CJ! Beer can stay… it just can. As long as we’re not talking gallons a day. That’s the cool thing about changing your habits though. You usually have a lot of generally constructive ones to pick from, they just take that little bit of extra effort to get going compared to just sinking into a sofa.

      Have a manly weekend!

  3. Randy October 12, 2013 / 3:51 pm

    Only watching Japanese shows? Seriously, Ragnar? No Dancing With the Stars or Big Brother where you live? That is commitment dude.

    Even if someone might argue that music is a drug, it would have to be a good drug, great for relaxing your mind and keeping you focused…you know, kinda like weed.

    What habits would I change for myself? I would stop letting my mind sometimes run crazy focusing on negative thoughts about things I cannot change, work on being a more compassionate person and continue to reduce my consumption of foods and drinks that are not healthy.

    Peace…

    • ragnar October 12, 2013 / 8:38 pm

      I like how you describe music, that’s definitely how I see it, rather than something that stands between me and some kind of ultimate zen experience. And I’m definitely with you on focusing less on irrational negative thoughts.. and eating healthier. Let’s combine our efforts and ban negative thoughts permanently.

      • Randy October 12, 2013 / 9:33 pm

        Deal.

  4. Stu October 13, 2013 / 6:26 pm

    Hi Ragnar,

    I can relate to your thought on entertainment. I love playing games and listening to music, it helps escape reality and numb my problems. unfortunately they aren’t helping me get ahead. I’m not ready to give them up completely but I need to limit them to an hour a day like you said and spend more time taking care of business. Thank you kindly for the post

    • ragnar October 13, 2013 / 8:14 pm

      That’s pretty much I felt for the longest time, glad I could be of help!

  5. Susie Lampman October 15, 2013 / 3:13 pm

    I welcome CHANGE. In fact, I embrace it. Well just as long as it’s for the better..

    • ragnar October 15, 2013 / 10:52 pm

      If that’s true then that’s very awesome for you. I welcome change to, but not every part of my being is in agreement with me and that’s where the problem arises.

  6. Sandra November 16, 2013 / 6:47 am

    I try to use the Kiss method ” keep it simply stupid”.
    I start so small on the habits so as not to scare myself, and do them around a daily routine and increase slowly.

    • ragnar November 16, 2013 / 4:45 pm

      If you start small, and keep it going for 21 days, apparently it will be easier to keep going than to stop because it will have already become a normal habit in your mind… so I like to do the same ^^

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