If you want to make a lifestyle change–which literally means to permanently change your life–not only do you have to want it, you also have to decide to do it, regardless of what that takes. A lifestyle change is long-term not short-term. It’s not a diet or a fad, and if you go into it with the mindset that you’re only doing it to reach a goal and then you can reevaluate, you’re never going to reach your goal.
The daunting truth is that it’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be fun, and every ounce of your being is going to fight you every step of the way. So many lifestyle changes fail because people don’t realize that and inevitably don’t want to embrace the bad to reach the good. It’s a process, and you have to learn–mind over body.
It’s so much easier to complain, make excuses and promise ourselves we’ll start tomorrow or next month or next year. I hate to break it to you, but if you’re doing that, you’ll never move forward. Our minds are powerful; they can create excuses or they can overcome excuses–the decision is ours.
“Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring,” and if you’re not willing to endure, you won’t achieve. It’s that simple. If you’re already second guessing yourself, trying to negotiate with yourself or looking up articles to find meaningless inspiration, you have not decided to change yet.
Whether you’ve made your decision or not, my guess is you’re reading this because you want something to change in your life. Here are 6 things that you’re generally told to do that might actually be causing your lifestyle change to fail.
1. Finding your motivation. You don’t need to go searching for motivation. Your motivation is you. Yes, I want to have a better body for my husband. I want to stay around as long as possible for my kids. I want to inspire some and not give others the satisfaction of having something to gossip about. Whether I make a lifestyle change or not, the reality is all of those things still exist. My husband and kids will still be around, I can still be inspiring, and people will always find something to talk about. If you’re not changing ultimately for yourself, if the foundation of your decision isn’t to make your life better or yourself happier, it probably won’t stick for long.
2. Take it slow. No, find what works best for you. If that’s dipping your toes in, great. If that’s finding a balance, do it. But some people are the cold turkey, cannon ball into the pool type of people, and that’s okay too. Each approach has its pros and cons and is difficult in its own way. It’s about knowing what you can handle best. If that’s making one small change every month for a year and having to adjust each month throughout, that can work. Or if that’s making all your changes at once and having to push really hard right out of the gate, that works too.
3. Find a support system. Yes and no. A foundation is key to building yourself up, yes. Does that mean you have to have other people holding your hand and making the exact same changes with you? No. Sometimes it means cutting people out of your life who are making holes in your foundation. It can also mean you may just need to come to an understanding with others around you to strengthen your relationships. If you choose to stop eating meat, not everyone you know needs to become a vegetarian, but it does mean those you’re around should at most be encouraging and at least not be that person who’s telling you it doesn’t matter if you give in just once. If you’ve already made the decision to move forward with your lifestyle change, it won’t matter if you’re in a group of people doing it with you or if you simply make adjustments to your environment that are conducive to your changing.
4. Keep a journal. Like #2, this is one of those things that works well for some and completely botches the process for others. If you find yourself struggling to reach your goals or forgetting what you have done or should be doing, keeping track may be good for you. However, this may just be extra stress for others. If you’re a Type A person who’s already super organized and keeps track of everything but you’re still stuck, you may just need to throw it out the window, stop tracking and stop stressing over every little detail.
5. Embrace your mistakes. Or reward yourself. These go hand in hand. Don’t get me wrong, you will have mistakes, and that’s normal. And you should be proud of yourself if you’re doing well. What’s not smart is to constantly tell yourself that mistakes are okay or to reward yourself by giving in on a routine basis. That’s a dangerous habit to start, and it unravels the mindset of a lifestyle change. Special occasions are special for a reason; cheat days are just cheating.
6. Set goals. Goals can be good to an extent, but if you’re constantly fighting tooth and nail to hit a goal every week or every month, or if you’re only working towards obtaining some unicorn of a goal, it begins to cloud the whole reason you’re changing your lifestyle. Have goals, but ultimately aim for change and betterment. Even if you don’t hit every goal, it’s important to continue moving forward and changing for yourself. Goals are great surface motivation but don’t deprive yourself or focus on them too much.
If that list didn’t give you what you need to start changing your life, maybe Shia can with his real message and slightly comical delivery. I’m with him though. DO IT.
Feel free to share your experience, tips and struggles in the comments below!