The Most Overlooked Step In Making a Lifestyle Change
Every January many of us dive headfirst into attempts to transform into the person we have always dreamed of being. Sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn't and I'm beginning to realize why-
We forget to identify the specific element of our lifestyle that we want to change and what those changes will "cost" us.
Anybody can say "I want to get in shape," or "I want to save money," but in order to do those things, we must first identify and articulate the element of our current lifestyle that is holding us back and recognize that in changing it we are literally committing to changing who we currently are- and that's the hard part.
If I want to get in shape, I probably need to start by realizing that I am currently a "sedentary" person who is looking to become an "active" person. I also need to accept the fact that a sedentary person and an active person live completely different lives- the two can't coexist in one body. Sometimes the reason we struggle with lifestyle changes is that we're so focused on the end goal that we're mentally unprepared to accept who we currently are and who we will no longer be at the end of the journey.
1. Write out the following in your journal, planner, or wherever you keep track of your goals:
"I am currently a(n)___________________ person and I want to become a(n) ________________ person."
e.g. "I am currently a night owl (feel free to deviate from the script!) and I want to become a morning person."
2. List out traits/habits of the type of person you currently are and the type of person you want to be. I like to visualize people in my life that are examples of the second and list out traits that come to mind when I think about them.
e.g. Night Owl: Up until 1 or 2 am; goes out socially after work often; likes to sleep in; etc.
Morning Person: In bed by 10; up with the alarm; no caffeine in the evenings; has a morning routine, etc.
3. List out the things that you currently enjoy that the type of person you want to become doesn't do or does differently.
e.g. Doesn't watch "Watch What Happens Live" live; Doesn't stay out late on weeknights; Doesn't hit the snooze button, etc.
4. Reflect on ways you can change those things without feeling like you're "missing out".
e.g. DVR and watch it in the morning while eating breakfast; Schedule breakfast dates, etc.
Usually, if you really want to become the type of person you're working towards transforming yourself into, the sacrifices required will be worth it. The key is to recognize the differences between the life you lead now and the life you will lead as you change your style of living. Take the time to acknowledge that you will have to make specific changes in your everyday routine and mentally prepare yourself for them because they won't feel "normal" at first, but eventually they'll become a habit and part of your life. Think about switching from "summer" mode to "school year" mode as a kid. Suddenly, you were waking up early, walking to the bus stop, eating lunch at a set time daily, going to bed earlier etc. and living a completely different life than you had been just weeks ago. It was a complete lifestyle change, but because it wasn't optional you just did it without thinking too much about it.
As an adult, making similar changes can feel harder because we feel like we're giving up part of ourselves and the habits that we've comfortably settled into. However, just like other lifestyle changes you've made throughout your years as a result of moving, leaving a relationship, starting a new job, etc, you can make the changes necessary to get you closer to your most polished self if you just stop for a minute and take the time to identify the changes that are going to take place before jumping into action.