14 Oct It’s One Thing to Have Awareness, Another to Change
Self-knowledge and having awareness of our styles and patterns are the only gig in town as far as I am concerned for those of us who want to be successful in any area of life we choose. Knowing and having an eye on our habits, tendencies, feelings, reactions, avoidances, failings, desires and the things that make us who we are is something that takes time and effort to achieve. The results can be priceless and infinite.
Self-awareness is key to change and personal growth but it is only half the battle. Real change and growth can only occur when we actually commit to changing some of our patterns which we have picked up throughout our lives.
Many clients of mine get the initial kick out of becoming aware of their patterns and are excited that they have noticed certain traits and tendencies. Frustration can kick in when they feel they have no power to overcome these tendencies and find themselves repeating the behaviours in the areas of their lives that they have committed to change. In my experience, the best tracking method I found was journaling and writing my thoughts down about my behaviours, thoughts, patterns and then reading them back later on, but everyone needs to find their own best method of tracking.
There are many apps on the market now to help you track this and that, from what you eat to how many steps you take. If they work for you, great! Daniel Kahneman throws a curveball at the idea of wellbeing by shining a light on how our experiencing self and our remembering self are actually different referents. This is something to be acutely aware of when thinking about our experience of our lives.
Changes and new choices for the sake of perceived better wellbeing are worth it even if they are hard-won. I can’t imagine a life where I would still be working in a job I felt terrible going to or being in relationships that didn’t work for me. Behavioural changes that feel like they will never be overcome can be overcome with effort and a commitment to the long game.
A few worthwhile aids to help you on this journey are:
- Seek the help of a friend by receiving some accountability from them. If you cannot find a friend to keep you accountable, a life coach such as myself is a very good choice to keep your feet to the fire on your commitment to positive change. This objective feedback can help you see past your blind spots to where you might not necessarily see yourself falling down and somebody in your corner championing our effort helps us to push through the times when we feel helpless to change and feel as if we are on a merry go round to nowhere.
- Write out your goal in the positive tense. Goals such as ‘I don’t want to stay up past 11 pm’ are not useful because the brain cannot compute a negative so it sees ‘I want to stay up past 11 pm’. A better-stated goal would be ‘I am going to consistently go to bed at or before 10 pm on weekdays’.
- Tick your performance on a sheet of tick boxes. Write out your clearly stated goal and put a tickbox for the specific actions beside it and tick them off as you perform the tasks. This is a subtle reward function which equips us with the feeling of efficacy and gives us the sense that we are doing well which boosts our self-esteem and overall feeling of being in control of our destiny. (My coaching programme Mapping Your Mastery contains such documents)
- Journal your progress and try to remove the sensor in your mind. When you journal and track your progress well you start to hone a better relationship with yourself and the honesty levels with yourself can increase and you can minimise your tendencies to deceive yourself and make excuses for nothing following through. Many times the issue can be that we are not following through on actions because a part of our minds offers us beautifully crafted excuses as to why we should not take actions we have committed to paper.
The most important thing for you to do is take action. I like the 5-second rule by Mel Robbins which is a great way to overcome the stubbornness and resistance to take action that many of us feel. Give it a go and take it slowly with small things you want to change and out of the little wins come the big ones.
I want to help: I’ve compiled 7 Steps to Self Discipline eBook, and I want to give it to you for free. The information in this 7 step guide has helped me break the cycle of procrastination and helped me become much more productive.