Want to Change Your Life? You Need These Three Things
You want to change your life. You'll do whatever it takes. So you try. And try. But change won't come. Could you be missing these three things?
Much as I hate to admit it, in some ways I’m just your average Jane. Case in point: I’ve been wanting to lose “those last 10 pounds.” It’s been a long time of trying. Probably since I was in utero. But no matter what I did, those LBs wouldn’t budge.
I don’t need to list all the trying I did. You’ve either tried it all yourself, or your sister has, or your husband. Ask a hundred strangers, “How do you want to change your life?” and 99 of them will mumble something about those ten darn pounds.
What precious few of them will mention is the real reason it’s so hard to make that change: that the foods they’re eating meet a deep emotional need. The exercise they can’t find time for is a lower priority than meeting everyone else’s needs. A ten-pounds-thinner physique doesn’t gel with their top values.
YOU NEED THESE THREE THINGS
Even fewer of them will know that you need these three things to create change in your life:
• clarity on your values
• change as your current top priority
• small, achievable goals
As a life coach, I’m well trained in the workings of psychology. I understand that humans will put in the effort for things that line up with their values. For example. Let’s say you’ve got guy A, whose top value is his spirituality. And you’ve got guy B, whose top value is financial security. Is guy A, the spiritualist, going to become a corporate lawyer? No way. The money and status he’d gain from such work is meaningless to him. For guy A, being a corporate lawyer would be torture, so he’s not going to slog through law school, study for the bar exam, and do the 100-hour work weeks required for the job.
And is guy B going to join the monastery? Is he going to swear off earthly comforts, cut himself off from modern conveniences, and commit to a life of poverty and service? Not a chance. This guy’s top value is financial security. A simplistic life of sacrifice would be hell on earth.
But for guy A, the monastic life feels like heaven, because it dovetails with his values. For guy B, all that work and study is energizing, because it gets him closer to his top goals.
THING A: KNOW YOUR VALUES
We all work the same way: if a goal aligns with our values, the work it takes to get to the goal feels like play. So the first thing you need, if you want to change your life, is clarity on your values.
This one was a little tricky for me. My values are entrenched in respect for everybody—literally, every type of body. I balk at the notion of a certain look being seen as superior to another. But through self-coaching, I realized another of my values is this: feeling attractive when I am surrounded by strangers. There are cultures where thicker women are the beauty ideal. If I lived in one, my goal would probably poof! disappear. But for now, in the society where I live, I feel most attractive when I’m at “fighting weight”—in other words, ten darn pounds less. So, check: my goal to lose ten pounds aligns, albeit shakily, with my values.
THING B: CHANGE AS YOUR TOP PRIORITY
But still. I wasn’t losing that weight. And this is where things get interesting. If we want to make a change, our goal reality can’t just match one of our values; it has to be our top priority: the goal that trumps all others, at this particular time.
For the past ten years, my top priority has been my work as an author. I’ve spent seven days a week, twelve hours a day, focused on writing, editing, promoting, and speaking about my books. Did I want to be ten pounds thinner for each of those book signings? Sure. Was my body my top priority? Nope. So. My book stuff got done, but those ten pounds were still hanging around.
Until I hit a book-work wall. If I didn’t take a break and recharge with, just, FUN, I’d have some kind of breakdown. So I booked a trip to Los Angeles, to do the ultimate average Jane’s idea of fun: roller skate up and down the Venice Beach boardwalk, pretending to be Mariah Carey.
I really, REALLY wanted to wear my cutoff jeans and bikini top with my roller skates. So suddenly, the clock was ticking. I had two months to shake off that ten, to feel good in my Mariah outfit. Translation: my top priority shifted. Now, instead of being driven to work on book stuff, I was driven to make the changes necessary to get down to fighting weight. But change is hard, even when you’re really driven to make it! How was I going to do it?
THING C: SMALL, ACHIEVABLE GOALS
To make change we need small, easily achieved goals, lined up like paver stones leading us to our ultimate goal. Each time we meet one of these simple goals, we reinforce to ourselves, “I’m doing it! I’m going to make it!” This, in turn, gives us a surge of energy and hope. And Energy + hope + effort + time = big goal achievement.
What could I use to create and track my little goals? Why, my shiny new Fitbit! With its tracking of exercise and calories, I had hourly goals to reach. With the app for entering food and water intake, I had daily caloric and water goals to meet. In the past, weekly or monthly weigh-ins, where I hoped my efforts would show results, were vague to the point of frustration. If the scale didn’t go down, I gave up in frustration. But 250 steps an hour? That’s a thing I can do. And every hour I do it, I feel successful, which fuels my motivation to meet my daily caloric goal.
So I clarified my values. Then my priorities shifted. So I set my big goal and started working on my little goals. The result? One week after my first weigh-in, I was down 3.5 pounds. Boom.
WANT TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE? LET ME COACH YOU!
Change is hard, but coaching can work miracles. Especially when the coach is well-trained, tuned in to your words, and believes you can knock out your goals.
When you sign up to work with me, we get results by following these same steps.
• We evaluate your contentment with the different areas of your life
• We hammer out your big goals
• We suss out your values
• If there are values conflicts, we dig a little deeper, to see what means the most to you
• We look at your current life, and note where your actions don’t match your priorities
• We map out tiny, doable, empowering goals
The net result: with my support, you work your way to your big goal, the big change that is so exciting, you never even allowed yourself to dream that you could reach it. Once your values, your priorities, and those little goals align, BAM! Watchout. Change is suddenly here.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a 111 steps to fit into this hour!