Perhaps you’ve read a few personal development books, sought advice from close colleagues, or have even made a rough plan of the impending life transformation on the back of a napkin while sitting by the pool on vacation.
You feel confident and excited about the change, and also at your tremendous ability to finally make those dreams happen. Just visualizing them forces a proud smile on your face. This year is going to be incredible.
However, two weeks back from holiday, begrudgingly you feel your plans are fading faster than your tan. They have barely made it off your poolside “napkin manifesto” and seem almost laughable in actual reality – as you barely have time to get your hair cut, let alone start a new business or exercise daily.
So where do we go wrong? Are we foolish to have such grand plans? Of course not. It is the ideas that come to us through complete relaxation, when our ego has taken a backseat, that we should follow the most because they come from that internal voice deep inside (aka your intuition).
The problem is that we sometimes try to implement everything all at once, causing us to feel overwhelmed or to give up at the first hurdle. Of course starting that dream business empire will not fit into your current duties if you have a 9-to-5 job and demanding family responsibilities. But doing some basic groundwork, like making new connections or putting together a realistic business plan will.
Or if you’ve decided you want to focus on becoming more positive and happy and have read numerous books preaching the importance of daily meditation, affirmations, exercise, yoga, turning vegetarian and avoiding alcohol… it is perfectly understandable why this complete life overhaul cannot be accomplished simultaneously in a week (unless you stay in an ashram!).
But don’t give up. Just give yourself a break. Walk before you can run.
Here are three tips that will ensure you not only continue with your personal development, but actually kick-start those important dreams into gear.
1) Choose one change and make it simple. If you’ve been inspired to change an aspect of your life (or even your whole life!), start by implementing just one change that is immediately achievable. This way you won’t feel overwhelmed or set yourself up for failure when you can’t change everything at once. For example, if you want to lose weight, start by cutting out unhealthy food.
A study by the New England Journal of Medicine put 811 overweight adults through four different diets to test which was better. The result? No diet was better than the other, as they all lost the same amount of weight. This is because the objective is the same: to lose weight and eat less. So which diet is the best to start out on? A simple one of course.
If you’re looking to cut out fatty foods, ask yourself: “What is the one thing you can change that will make the biggest difference to your calorie intake?” Once you know the answer, focus on cutting this from your diet before you move onto the other items on your goal list. This applies to anything in your life you’re trying to change.
2) Master a habit. According to research by PsychCentral, it takes on average 66 days to form a habit. Smaller habits, such as remembering to write your daily to-do list can take as little as two weeks to form. Therefore, it’s no surprise that getting into the habit of a major lifestyle change will take some time! However, by mastering one habit at a time, it will make the grander plan a whole lot easier to accomplish.
3) Revisit your plan. So you’ve managed to cut fatty foods out of your diet, and you’ve even got into the habit of rubbing the sleep out of your eye as you embark on your morning run. But if this was only the beginning of your new healthy living journey, start assessing how you’re going to make the bigger changes.
For example, if you now want to focus on becoming a yoga teacher, establish what you need to do to make this happen. Is there a training course that fits in with the other demands of your life? What are the sacrifices you’ll have to make to ensure you get the most out of it, such as, not partying on the weekend?
Whatever it is, the chances are you’ll have the confidence to incorporate the next parts of your plan successfully as you’ve already formed other positive habits – one step at a time.
When it comes to personal development, it’s only natural to want to see instant results and become the person you want to be. However, with lifestyle changes, no matter how little or big, they can take time (66 days on average as it turns out!) so by focusing on one task at time, and planning your goals, you’ll be more likely to turn those dreams into reality.
What’s your biggest hurdle with personal growth? Do you feel it’s because you try to change everything at once (or adopt too many approaches) or do you have another nemesis? Share your trials and tribulations below :)