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How to get lasting Change

This article talks about how we can motivate ourself to get lasting change. We discuss how to to create a compelling vision, focus on it every day, remain persistent despite the circumstances, and embrace it as who we are.

In previous newsletters, we discussed neuroplasticity, our ability to change our brain structure and function in relationship to experience, as well as recognizing those needs that drive our behaviors. As we are entering a New Year, with its traditional list of resolutions, we will discuss how we can motivate ourselves to change.

Statistically, 95% of people having made a New Year resolution will break it within 2 weeks! Having failed so many times already in the past, many do not even bother to do any resolution anymore. Too often, it turn out to be a should-do list: I should lose weight, stop smoking, spend more time with the family, meet more people, work harder… all nice to have, however deep inside we know it will not happen, it is only wishful thinking.

We have over time unconsciously acquired beliefs, meanings and stories about life – some of them empower us, others tend to shrink us. To change, we need to investigate our limiting beliefs and stories, feeling the accompanying feelings, and change our behaviors. A key part of neuroplasticity is the role of self-attention to learn and change. It requires some focus and determination to change the way we are wired, and transform unhelpful habits, beliefs, or thoughts.

To discover a limiting belief, you can start to think about your dreams. Then think of all the reasons why they haven’t come true. Think about all the reasons why you are scared to do it. Think about all the reasons why your parents, or friends or other people you know say it can’t be done. This is the beginning of understanding what holds you back.

How do we get lasting changes once we have identified what we want? When we make a conscious choice, when we are committed and firmly decide to do it, when we burn the bridges and there is no retreat, we will either find a way or make one. One way is to create a compelling vision, focus on it every day, remain persistent despite the circumstances, and embrace it as who we are.

Start with the end

To start working on a personal or business objective, the most important is not to figure out how we will get there. Too many people immediately rush into action plan mode. Instead, take the time to ensure you know what you want and why. When we ask what and how at the same time, we build our future based on our past. We limit ourselves to what we know, not taking advantage of our creative power.

Know what you want. Know why you want it, what you will gain from it and how the quality of your life and that of others will change once you have it. If we remain focused on our objective and are deeply aware of what we will gain, we will also figure out how to get there, finding the appropriate way, step by step.

Choose a compelling vision

The more compelling your vision is, the more self-powered it will be. Choose something that is so thrilling, so exciting that you will wake up every morning eager to work on it. It is the emotional intensity which will keep you motivated.

Envision your future and create a picture in your mind. See it as present. Be very precise on what you exactly want. Make it a SMART objective. Be Specific, formulating it positively and in the present. Do not focus on what you do not want as the subconscious does not understand negations. Make it Measurable to track your progress. Ensure it is dependent solely on you to be Achievable. Make it Realistic, as your mind will sabotage any objective that is not realistic. Finally decide the Time frame to achieve the objective.

Picture it as done. Make it a beautiful and a lively picture. Close your eyes and feel the emotion you will experience when you get there. Add colors to your painting, feel the texture, smell the perfume, sense the situation; make it as complete, lively, and bright as possible in your mind’s eye.

When you build a house, you need a plan to come back to every day on the initial vision you and your architect had. It is a picture of the end goal, a dream put on paper. A plan does not tell you how you will build the house, but what it will look like when it is delivered.

Focus to Synthetize what you want

Remember the last time you were in love. Remember how it took all your mind power and how obsessed you were with that person. You were 100% focused and anything else did not really matter. You wanted to make it happen. It was so compelling, that you did not need to be motivated.

When you do something spontaneously - like falling in love - the real you and the best of you show up. When you connect to your true nature, then there is plenty energy available to sustain your motivation.

Having strong reasons will keep you motivated and push you through tough times moving on every day. Our minds look for pleasure and try hard to avoid pain. So be sure your objective will bring you lots of pleasure. Also consider the pain that you will avoid when you succeed as well as the pain you will get if you do not change – this too will motivate you to act and change.

Choose the good reasons to have long term objectives. Consider how that goal will sustain your needs: Will it bring you more Certainty? Variety? Love? Growth? Contribution? What will you be able to do and how will you feel when you get there?

We cannot control events, but we can choose how we respond to them; what we focus on, what it means for us, and what to do with it. When we set a goal for ourselves, and keep being focused on the end, our brain start to notice anything that is related to it. It becomes important, part of our world and we become acute at noticing anything that will make us move forward.

Envision it, Feel it, Focus on it, and Experience it. Visualize your goal and review it every day.

Persist knowing you will fail

The only way to get results is through failing. When we succeed the first time, we do not learn since we don’t really know how we made it. When we fail, we learn by doing.

We get results through lots of consistent actions. Take your goal and do some small steps every day that get you closer. Stop finding problems like; I do not have the time, resources, knowledge… etc. If you wait for the perfect conditions, you will never do anything. Start as an amateur, fail, accept and learn, and if you persist you will get there!

Any situation or event has something to teach. Look for all the positive aspects: What did you learn? What can you do differently next time? You can even use frustration as an activator to do something you never did before. Some negative situations turn out to be the best potion for growth. Your biggest frustration, challenges, major problem in life might be the best present you ever received, because it moved you to take responsibility and to act!

It is not an opportunity that make someone successful; it is years of preparation to be ready to grab an opportunity when it arise.

Embracing it, make it who you are

Many tried quitting smoking for many years until something happened in their life that took them over the tipping point and they decided to quit for good. At that time no will power was needed anymore, they just decided it was their new identity.

People act consistently with who they believe they are. If you think your identity is being honest, you will never cross the line. The need to stay consistent with what we believe we are, what we define ourselves as, is a very powerful force to change if we can identify with the new us.

We decide who we are in our youth and this becomes our own ceiling for what we allow ourselves to be and do. Keeping focus and constantly rehearse and practice what this new person would like to be stimulates the brain to put new neural circuits in place and to make them an integral part of your new personality and character.

Neurons that fire together wire together. You can use your mind to change your brain and effectively change your mind for the better. This is self-directed neuroplasticity. You can watch a short video about it here.

Once your brain has been rewired, you will be able to summon these new behaviors at will. Our beliefs which are based on our thoughts and attitudes, when synthesized, make up our perceptions of the world and determine the choices we make, the relationships we have, the behaviors we demonstrate, the leadership style we execute, and ultimately the life we live.

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