Making positive changes – how to find your way through the overwhelm
“This is it! I’m going to change my life!” you tell yourself. So you write a list of all the things you’re going to do: eat organic, gluten-free; quit coffee; quite sugar; take up running; clear out my cupboards; clear my inbox every day; start meditating; juice daily…
The list goes on. And on. And on…
You write down everything that you have ever considered interesting, good for you and necessary to become the you that you think you should be. Yes! It’s time! I’m going to be fit and strong and healthy and energetic and I’m going to be one of those women who works and looks after the kids and looks fantastic and cooks amazing healthy gourmet meals and everyone says “have you seen her? She is amazing! Who looks like that in their 40s? Where does she get the energy?”
But what starts off as inspiring quickly turns into a desperate case of overwhelm.
The realization sets in that your proudest moment of today was remembering to feed yourself lunch and your favourite part was climbing into bed at the end of it. Who are you kidding? You can barely make it through the week and now you think you are going to quit caffeine?
Don’t get me wrong. The knowledge that something isn’t working can be decisive. Inspiration to change is hugely empowering. It drives movement. It fuels action.
But sometimes it’s just overwhelming. And with that overwhelm comes fear. And stress. And dread. It’s paralysing. And the unfortunate result is that no change results at all. Not one single thing. So there we are, stuck. Waiting for “one day” when the situation is more conducive.
So how do we allow ourselves the joy of dreaming, whilst not getting so carried away by over-enthusiasm that we end up doing nothing at all?
I’ve found it helps to separate out these 2 areas:
1. The vision
This is the part that we connect with emotionally and that fuels us to change in the first place. It must be there. It holds everything together and is the inspiration that keeps us going.
I’m a huge fan of dreaming about the future, visualizing what it will feel like, and capturing the words to help me connect with those emotions. I recently did an exercise where I projected myself a year into the future and visualized how I was spending my day: where I was, what I was doing, the feeling I was feeling doing it. I could literally feel my body change. The excitement rippled through every cell and reminded me where I was going. Now that vision helps me stay on course, drives what I do, and inspires me on difficult days.
If words are your thing, write them down and pin them where you can see them every single day. A recent client simplified it to “fit, energised, vibrant”. By looking at those words every day she was able to connect back to the feeling that came up for her in her vision. Other people prefer images and use vision boards to bring their dreams to life. It doesn’t matter how you choose to record it.
The important thing is that you take yourself to that future version of you, connect with her emotionally, and then record the feelings that came up
2. The action
As experts in list-making, this is our game. We find great pleasure in writing down all the millions of things we have to do. I suppose it gives us the illusion of control. The thing is, we often make the mistake of translating this beautiful endpoint straight into “the list” - often a really long and rather impossible one.
Lists are good, sure. They help us break things down into manageable bits. The trick is to keep it inspiring but also make it doable. I don’t know about you, but as soon as my gorgeous vision of the future gets broken down into an endless list of extreme request such as “quit caffeine”, my body revolts and tells me to get lost. So no, we need to look at list-making a little differently.
Taking action towards our vision can be done gently. It can be done with joy and fun. Just because we aren’t being extreme about it and achieving it all in a single week, doesn’t mean we aren’t making progress.
In fact, there’s a much higher chance that by doing it slowly and comfortably, our chances of success are even higher. So here’s the big secret:
Start with one good thing.
That’s it. That’s the big secret.
This week, start with one thing only. One. Single. Thing.
And make it a positive one.
Maybe you want to start taking your vitamins daily. Great. Just do that. Maybe you want to increase your gym sessions from twice a week to four times. Fantastic. Juicing always been on your wishlist? Start with that and don’t worry about anything else.
A couple of things will happen here.
Firstly, as you manage to stick to your one thing a week, you will be so chuffed with yourself that you will be inspired to keep going.
You might even feel ready to add something else. And that’s what gets you closer to your vision.
Secondly, the more you add the good stuff, the more you mind and your body will crave more of it.
As you start feeling better and better – clearer, lighter, more energized, more motivated, the easier it will be to leave some other things behind. Instead of going cold turkey and forcing your body to drop the “baddies”, if you choose rather to up the nourishing good stuff, the process will unfold naturally. Believe me, I’ve see even the biggest sugar addicts make changes this way.
So that’s it!
Use the emotion of your vision to propel your forward. And then do one good thing a week. Nothing more.
This is permission to drop the endless to do list - and get some real results.
Feeling ready to put pen to paper and start making the changes? Yee-ha! Let’s go!
And if you need a little help along the way, do give me a call. We all need a little guidance at times.