One of the biggest keys in making changes in your life is to believe you are capable of growing & changing. You are! In this era of constant change, in the tools we use and the ways we communicate, we've had no choice but to adapt.
But where to start? First, you'll do better if you reflect beforehand, as Dr. Evans recommends, and more closely look at the behaviors you want to change. Most of our behaviors are automatic, done without thoughtful consideration. If you want to change one of your habits, watch yourself more and look for your "choice points" - the little decisions you make just before the autopilot takes you the rest of the way.
How do you identify your choice points? Look at the contexts in which you want to change your behavior (eg, at work, at home, on the road). What triggers the autopilot behavior you want to change? It could be waking up, taking a break, walking into a store, or completing something. Planning before the next time you'll be in a particular context will make it a lot easier to be mindful during your choice points.
Then do some creative problem solving: what is the easiest, best other choice you could make without too much frustration? How can you make that choice easier to chose? What tricks can you use to move your autopilot into a different path? If you do a bit of research, you can get even better answers
Examples of simple tricks you can experiment with:
- Want healthier eating habits? Plan to shop when you aren't hungry. Consider changing your path around the store: instead of going up and down the aisles, go around the perimeter on the outside aisles, where the fresher foods live (rather than going up and down each aisle. If you're going for fast food, simply consider your healthiest options before you place your order, and try choosing at least one of the better options (eg, choosing water instead of soda, skipping the fries, or downsizing the burger). Conveniently, these options are also often cheaper. And smaller portions can dramatically help with weight loss goals.
- Want to exercise more? Plan for it in your schedule. If you find a workout buddy, your scheduled commitment to workout with another person makes it even easier to follow through. If you're on your own, set out your exercise gear at night, and put your workout clothes on when you first get up; you'll be far more likely to follow through on your desired exercise routine. Movement when you're not working out helps, too: you can try pacing while you're on the phone, parking further from an entrance, and taking the stairs instead of an elevator. Even taking breaks to stretch can make a difference.
- Want to make better progress on all of your goals? Plan for your important choice points. Practice the habit of being more mindful before and during your choice points. Take a little time each day for reflection.
When you notice a choice point coming up, plan to ask yourself a question like "Can I choose differently this time?" Even if the answer won't always be "yes!" just getting into the habit of asking yourself the question increases your odds of success.
You can track and celebrate small wins when you succeed with your intentions. And when you don't succeed, rather than beating yourself up, you can reflect on your experiments, and reframe any failures as "learning experiences." Thomas Edison, when designing the first lightbulb:, said “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
When you reflect, ask yourself "What is working and what else can I try to make it easier to follow through?"
Want more on how to change your life for the better? Check out How to Measurably Improve Your Quality of Live and contribute your input!
Want to get more done with the limited time you have? Check out David Allen's approaches to Getting Things Done at How David Allen Gets Things Done.
Want to try the single best way is for improving your health? Check out another TEDed featuring Dr. Evans at http://ed.ted.com/on/Mot8KdLT
Want to change faster? Check out http://www.wikihow.com/Learn-Faster
Want to learn more about behavioral change? Check out the Stages of Change model & how it is used to help people change their habits.
Good Luck! You CAN Do It!
And Happy New Year :-)