We all want to be better. It's part of the human condition and struggle. The desire to be, do, and have a better existence is, in my opinion, a critical element of our genetic makeup. Now, I realize that some folks are immune, and maybe it's good to be satisfied with who we are, but as long as we are human, we will always have the option and ability to transform ourselves into a better version. I am guilty of being a dreamer and visionary. By this, I mean that I think about possibilities and strongly desire to live up to my potential. Nothing (but me) can stop me from any goal, large or small, so why not make a significant change?
The problem with significant changes. Often, we come to a place in our lives where we can't stand it anymore. "It" could be anything: our weight, substance problem, relationship status, the financial situation. Whatever the "it" is, a choice or a series of choices was likely involved, and it's simply a choice, or series of choices, to bring the desired change. The short answer is yes, but some changes, while easy to make in a moment of impassioned frustration, are much more difficult to continue making, day after day, when the monotony and challenges keep coming like a drumbeat. It's so easy to make an excuse that returns us to the pattern that got us to the very place we're so eager to leave and so challenging to stay the course. That is when the change made is drastic or a big step
Habits and Chemistry. We are creatures of habit, and without getting too technical, We create habits, good and bad, partly because of a chemical known as dopamine. This is the reward or "feel good" sensation from various causes. Accomplishing a goal, Helping someone in need, eating a piece of chocolate, and a line of cocaine or a cigarette all cause our brains to give us a hit of the "feel good" sensation provided by Dopamine, a monoamine neurotransmitter created by our bodies. Then our brains create vital neural pathways to make getting the "feel good" sensation easier, and a habit is born for good or ill.
Small changes with significant impact. If you consider that at any given moment, you are standing on a rock hurtling through space at thousands of miles per hour, the idea of constant motion should be easy to get your mind around. Have you ever driven fast? If so, you realize that tight steering is essential and that a slight shift of the wheel can cause you to fly off the road quickly. Likewise, if you have ever sighted in a rifle or shot a target 100+ yards away, you know that the slightest change in the rifle's position will significantly affect where the round strikes or misses the mark. Consider making a small change to your habits, such as drinking just one glass of water in the morning first thing, adding a vegetable dish to your menu, taking a walk around the block, or any small but doable change. You may not feel a massive shift in a day, a week, or a month, but motion begets motion, and the compound effect typically brings a return with interest. We will discuss this element in future posts, as I see this point as life-changing.
Decisions are actions. Could you decide to make a change? There is a distinct difference between thinking about and deciding on a thing. A decision is a commitment and integrity, and honesty becomes involved once a decision is made.
Accept that you will need to leave your comfort zone. Anything good for us generally involves some discomfort, and for some reason, enduring some discomfort brings about a feeling of accomplishment. The resulting "feel good" sensation. Ultimately, the good feeling that brings a positive change will be why we stick to a change that eventually becomes a lifestyle choice.
Moral and social support. I am conflicted by this one, but I know that if you have friends and family that support a change you're making, the effect of this support can be profound and, most importantly, can help you get through a difficult time.
Milestones, One of the keys to success with any decision is to accomplish milestones. Thinking out a plan that acknowledges points of growth can be the difference between success and failure. We often find ourselves on a plateau of no progress. Thinking out improvement points can help us push through and build the good habit that brings the positive change we seek.
Now is the time. Procrastination is an obstacle that plagues us all. The first step is the hardest but sets it all in motion. Consider making a move today!