10/01/2008

How to be fully committed to life long change



We're getting close to the time of year when we begin to think about resolutions we'll make to bring about life long change. Implementing and maintaining life long change is extremely challenging. Honestly, most of us will probably spend years renewing the same commitment to ourselves over and over. We'll become inspired by someone who has actually accomplished a shift in their lives and try once again to emulate the results with little success.

Why do we constantly find ourselves in the same situation where we are striving to change some aspect of our lives and how do we maintain the change so it becomes a part of our daily habits?

Acceptance


So you have decided to lose that extra weight that you have been carrying around for quite some time. Have you accepted the fact that your new lifestyle will have to include grueling physical activity? Think long and hard about the answer to this question before you respond. Have you simply acknowledged that fact or have you accepted it?

Acceptance, my friends, is frame of mind that goes far beyond awareness and acknowledgement. Realizing that there is a puppy sitting on your doorstep is acknowledgment. Bringing the puppy inside your home so that you can now care for and feed it is acceptance. With acknowledgement, you still have a choice, you can shut the door and remove yourself from any responsibility related to the puppy, you can call the pound and ask that they come get the puppy, you can even grab your broom and use it as a tool to help you shoo the puppy away. Either way, you have several options from which to choose from.

Acceptance leaves you very little choice. Your decision has been made and you must move forward. You leave no opportunity for another reality other than the one you have selected. So you decided that you will work out three days a week in order to meet you weight loss goals, so be it. On Saturday morning, you do not have to grapple between the decision to get up for an early morning walk or if you are going to sleep in 'till noon. The choice was made long before then. You have already accepted that Saturday mornings was an optimal time to work in your exercise. If you truly accepted this new reality, then you must get up and exercise as you have decided. There are no other options.


Commitment
Accepting your new reality is part of the formula for life long change. Lasting change also requires commitment. I love the Oxford Dictionary's definition of commitment as an obligation that restricts freedom of action. Much like acceptance, commitment keeps you from having to decide at the moment of truth whether you will do what you said you would do. You have already committed to the change, action is the only option that remains.

Before you can truly know if you are sincere in your commitment, I recommend that you take some time to think about and visualize your new lifestyle. Don't just think about the results but also include the necessary actions involved to bring about change. If you want to start getting up at 5:00 am to get more done in the morning, you must clearly see yourself setting the alarm every night and getting out of bed while its still dark. See yourself waking early even when its cold outside and you feel like bundling up in your cozy bed.

Once you've spend an adequate amount of time visualizing (and vocalizing)the new realities associated with your desired change in behavior, and decided that you still want to proceed knowing that your options at 5:00 am will be to either get out of bed or to get out of bed, then you have reached the point where you are committed to lasting change.