“Our lives are the sum total of the choices we have made.”
~ Wayne Dyer
Hello lovely you. I want to wish you an official Happy New Year!
How to make positive lasting change. The possibilities of what this year could mean to your future are endless. I have always loved New Year’s for this very reason. How amazing is it to be reminded every 365 days that we can always stop, wipe the slate clean, and start again?
Creating positive changes in life is important for everyone. That’s why so many people this time of year make New Year’s resolutions. But how many people actually keep those resolutions?
While healthy people may have the “luxury” of abandoning their goals of change, those who have been diagnosed with cancer or another debilitating disease don’t have that luxury. Our health, or lack of, is most often the outcome of numerous life decisions. Those decisions include what we eat, how much sleep we get, what kind of relationships we are in, how much anger and resentment we hold onto, and on and on.
For us, creating positive change is not just an airy-fairy woo-woo feel-good theoretical idea, it is a matter of life or death. Either change or keep going the way we’re headed. That is NOT an option.
But if creating positive and lasting change were easy, our health might not be in jeopardy in the first place.
Why is Change So Hard?
Life is a series of mental and emotional habits, and none of us remember creating them. They were sort of created for us when we were young and very impressionable.
Your parents may have instilled fear of money, or a lack of money, for instance, and that fear, which you were NOT born with, became a thought, and that thought became a looping thought, which eventually became a mental habit.
You may have learned at a young age to view challenges negatively. To you, challenges were not something to inspire you to grow and become your best self; challenges were hard, something to hate and avoid. This emotion was perpetuated until it became an emotional habit. You may now avoid challenges without even realizing it.
Most of our thoughts, fears, emotions and decision-making are all based on repetition and habit. And like any habit – they are hard to break. We all know smoking is a bad habit, but ask any smoker how hard it is to quit, and they’ll give you an earful.
Mental and emotional habits are equally hard to break, if not harder. Not many of us were smoking at 10 years-old, but many of us had already formed our mental and emotional habits by that age.
The good news is, while mental and emotional habits may be hard to break, it can be done. Making positive and lasting change is a matter of realizing you create your life – you have the power to accept, deny, embrace and shun an infinite array of possibilities.
By the way, if you haven’t already, I urge you to read Dr. Joe Dispenza’s book “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.” Here is a great interview with him by Neal Donald Walsch. Dr. Joe has a great way of explaining how our brains get stuck in the same loops.
How to Make Positive and Lasting Change in the New Year
Spend a little time in the next week or so looking back at the past year and recognizing how your every day small decisions impacted your life – and your health – in a big, big way. Then, do the following:
Go Small or Go Home
I want you to focus on making micro changes in the coming year, not macro changes. As I’ve mentioned a few times in this blog post, it is usually the small things that lead to big things, both positively and negatively. Don’t focus on big change (losing 50 pounds) but rather commit to small changes (taking the stairs every day). Most of us believe we can make small changes so we don’t give up before we even get started. Soon, one small change becomes 5 small changes, and those become 50 small changes, and eventually you’ve made 100 small changes that have completely transformed your health, relationships, emotional life and future!
Attach New Behaviors to Old Habits/Triggers
We know that habits are hard to break, which is exactly why you want to attach new behaviors to your good habits. As an example, let’s say this year you would like to start meditating so you can be more in control of your life. If you have a cancer diagnosis meditation can help you become centered and strong so you can make the right healing decisions. If you’re like most people, you may find you just “don’t have the time.” But if you get into the habit of meditating for 5 minutes (go small) right after you brush your teeth in the morning and then again at night, you have a much better chance of creating this new habit.
Let’s say you call your mother, sister or best friend every Wednesday and Saturday. Why not speak with them on your cell phone while you take a lovely walk around the block.
Be Prepared for “Failure”
You haven’t eaten sugar in three weeks. Then one day your boss yells at you in front of your coworkers, you get a flat tire on the way home, and your washing machine leaks all over your bathroom floor. That sure sounds like a good excuse to eat some sugar. If you give in, that’s okay. Don’t let one emotional slip-up be your excuse to permanently throw in the towel.
Ask Yourself More Questions
Do you get frustrated with yourself because you feel like you should have more answers about yourself and your life than you do? Maybe you don’t have the answers you want because you haven’t been asking yourself enough (or the right) questions.
I needed to go within to find the answers I needed to heal my cancer and my life 3 decades ago. Healing cancer starts from within.
We can’t just expect to know ourselves because we are “us.” It doesn’t work that way. Building a relationship with yourself takes as much time as it does to build a relationship with someone else. If you want to know yourself better so you can understand what you think and feel and why you think and feel it, then start talking to yourself and listening. Ask questions like:
- What do I really need in this moment?
- What is great about this?
- What is potentially bad about this decision?
- How will this decision impact my life in 6 months? 2 years? 5 years?
- How can I take better care of my heart, mind, body and spirit?
I want this next year to be one of joy and healing. And for that to happen you will need to make some positive and lasting changes. You can do it. Take baby steps. Check in with yourself and nurture your entire self every chance you get.
Always with love,
P.S. Look at what or who you need to help you. You may need to do research on a health app, a Fitbit or get a digital or live coach. There are so many options to assist you. We all have our strengths and weaknesses so think about what worked and didn’t work for you last year. It is Okay to get help with a few bells and whistle reminders during your day to get off your computer and go for a walk!
What are your dreams and goals this year? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. If you know of some great apps, please share them.