Manifesting Change - Part 2
Last week, as part of the February theme of Change, I wrote about how important and necessary it is to start change with introspection and motivation. If you missed Part 1 and you'd like to read it, click here, but to summarise, I believe in order to really manifest change, to make it happen, and most importantly to make it last, you have to start with knowing yourself and who you are and what your motivation is for wanting to change.
However, before I list the last three keys components to manifesting change, I wanted to be clear as to why those first two are singled out (I mean, why give them their own part and not include all five in one?). It's about pull vs push and when you want to make a change, you want to feel pulled to change, like there is some greater plan or reason behind it, as opposed to pushed to change, where you have to or else. Pull or push matters for the same reason it matters whether the horse is thirsty when you lead it to water... if the horse isn't thirsty, nothing you do, no amount of push, is going to get that horse to drink. And if you don't want to change, no amount of push is going to get you to make lasting change.
Change is hard *^&$%*(% work so you better have a good reason to embark on it and a good understanding of what challenges you'll face. Know those two and these last three will come a lot easier.
Five Components for Manifesting Change (3-5)
This one again might sound obvious. Short of revolutionary or transformational occurrences, such as a life-threatening event, no one changes for good after trying something new once. No one. So when you want to change, you have to repeat that change over and over. day in, day out, rain or shine. It's the only way something becomes habitual.
However, what I want to highlight here is the idea of "too much together". Let me return to my example of wanting to have a meditation practice. I would not helping myself if I started with the notion "I'll start meditating for 20 minutes everyday, starting today." Now 20 minutes doesn't sound like a long time, but when you are sitting on the yoga mat in the silence, it feels like a long time. Or at least it does to me. I'm no better at sitting down to meditate for 20 minutes than I am at going out and running 10K. By minute seven, I'm restless and by minute 13 my back and knees are hurting. So I trained for my 20 minutes in the same way I would train to run a 10K, I built up to it. Increasing a little bit every day until I got to 20 minutes. And then I just kept going.
Another way "too much together" comes up is in terms of trying to form too many habits at once. As in, wanting to make a bigger change, like a healthier lifestyle, so trying to make all the changes that contribute to that all at once. This is why so many new year's revolutions fail. You're trying to change your work out patterns/frequency, your diet, trying to meditate and do yoga and on and on... and your body and mind are going "WTH is going on here?!?" However, if you started with just changing what you eat and keep everything else the same, then when the new diet feels integrated (more on this later), add yoga and so on, then the amount of change you're experiencing feels less drastic and as a result, easier. With the mediation goal, I will eventually make it part of a longer morning routine which will include journalling and yoga. However, if I tried to make all those changes at once, it wouldn't have lasted a week.
This one might not feel like it belongs in this list but I absolutely advocate for it for one simple reason... innovation is the number on thing I rely on when I'm struggling with change. Before I give up (and I have given up on a few things over the years) I try to use innovation to 1) see things differently or from a different perspective or 2) get creative about the process I'm using to make change.
I have two examples here. First on changing my perspective, I've always been a little bit "all-or-nothing" as in I have to do it perfectly and if I mess up, I give up. And that's what always use to get me with meditation. I couldn't sit for two minutes, much less 20, without my mind wondering off in thought for at least half that time and I felt like if I couldn't even do two minutes well, then there was no way I could do 20. So I had to either innovate, or give up and this year, I was determined not to give up. So I looked back at what I was setting myself up for in terms of a "successful meditation session" and then I got creative (aka innovative) about that definition. What did I mean by session and how could I define that differently? What did successful look like and where could I do something else? That's where the idea of the build-up to 20 minutes came from. It's also why I use Headspace to help guide me as I'm learning the new skill and manifesting this change.
My second example is in getting creative about the process I'm using to change. It's also lead up to the fifth component, integration.
What is integration? Simply put, it's about adding things together to make a unified whole. So when it comes to manifesting change, what integration looks like is fitting the "new" change into the "old" you and and reconciling the pieces into the "new" you. I could use a metaphor but instead I'll use my second innovation example. I set out to develop a daily meditation practice and I knew my motivation and what my challenges would be and had tackled all of them except one. Integrating meditation into my life. And I don' t mean on any normal day when things are easy or when I have a manageable morning schedule. I'm talking about days when I'm so exhausted from a busy conference schedule I sleep through the alarm my first day back to work and wake three minutes before my first meeting in a day of back-to-back meeting followed by an evening speaking engagement. Somewhere in there, I'll also need a shower, food, to do business admin and business marketing and all the other things that come with running your own business. How exactly do I integrate meditation in my life when more days look like this than days that don't?
So I innovated on the process. I was learning that I could rely on just myself on these busy days to make sure I got my meditation in. I needed something else to hold me do it. Almost something that would make me do it, even if I didn't feel like I had time, I wanted to be encouraged to make time. And I'll be damned if there isn't an app for that! Introducing Beeminder, a service accountability app that allows you to set behaviours or goals, including how much and how often and then holds you accountable with your wallet. So if I skip a day of meditation... I have to pay them! And if I miss second day, the amount I pay increases significantly.
Now of course there is a fail-safe for emergencies if I were to be ill or whatever, but just that simple knowing that Beeminder is tracking my meditation practice has got me on a 34 day (at the time of writing) streak of daily meditation. Something that
a year ago, felt impossible. Before long, I won't even need Beeminder to track my practice... because mediation will be integrated into my life, even on the craziest days. That is how you manifest change.