Have you ever felt paralyzed by the prospect of change? On an intellectual level, we all know that change is inevitable (in fact it’s constant) and that to get what we want out of life, some changes are necessary. But knowing it isn’t enough. There has to be a way to make change fun and easy.
Why We Hate Change
Change terrifies us because it means loss of control, because it’s potentially difficult, and because it’s different. People hate “different.” We are hardwired to prefer the same, the known, the comfortable. This wonderful little story illustrates it perfectly:
A young newlywed couple is having their first Thanksgiving, hosting both sets of parents. The young wife prepares the turkey by cutting it in half, carefully seasoning each half, and then baking each half individually. Puzzled, her husband asks her why she cut the turkey in half. The wife pauses for a moment and says, “I don’t know. We’ve always done it that way!” Intrigued, the husband poses the question to his mother-in-law, who answers exactly the same way: “We’ve always done it that way.” After dinner, the husband approaches his wife’s grandmother with the same question. Her answer? “Oh, honey, my grandmother started baking half a turkey at a time because our oven was too small to fit a whole turkey!”
We follow traditions without thinking about why and we are biased to believe that because something has been done a certain way for a long time, that this is the way things are, and that it’s the best way.
Making change isn’t just about fearing what could go wrong, it’s also about giving up something from the past (good) for something new and unknown (by default, not good).
Use Visualization and Self-Care to Create Change
A very simple way to create change is to dream about what you want to do. It’s as simple as daydreaming! Visualize the ideal and why it’s important to you. Know what you want… and why you want it.
I invite you to start with a goal of creating time for yourself every day. This is an important goal because it’s one way to show yourself love as a step toward healing your emotional eating.
Write down exactly what you want to do/not do during “me time” and why you want it. Use the present tense; let your imagination soar with the joyful possibilities.
- What are you doing/not doing during “me time”? (Doing absolutely nothing is okay!)
- Where are you?
- What time of day is it?
- How do you feel?
- Why is taking “me time” so meaningful?
Use Kaizen to Make Change Happen Effortlessly
Kaizen is the Japanese word for improvement. Improvement isn’t easily achieved in giant leaps or herculean efforts, but in tiny consistent actions. It doesn’t get any easier than one-minute steps.
The principle is simple:
Practice something for one minute, at the same time, every day.
Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that you don’t have time for you. You do have one minute, don’t you? Use it to do something meaningful for yourself.
In one minute, you could: refine your professional “elevator pitch”… focus on your breath… do jumping jacks… say a positive affirmation… hold a yoga pose (like the “plank”)… work on memorizing your favorite song lyrics… practice a phrase in a foreign language… sing scales… practice saying no to someone who demands too much time of you… stretch… mentally rehearse doing something that scares you… add an image or phrase to your vision board…
You can do anything for 60 seconds.
Those 60 seconds are a magnificent expression of self-love! You’re doing it for you, for your own improvement… for your own pleasure.
What are your biggest challenges in making time for yourself? Use your 60 seconds to get over those challenges. Some examples:
- What do you need to say to others to ensure they honor this time? Rehearse it for one minute per day until you feel comfortable saying it to their face.
- What adjustments do you need to make to your calendar/to-do list to accommodate this commitment to yourself? Use your minute to identify and eliminate the time-suckers.
What time of the day is best for you to commit to yourself? Consider a time of day when your energy and mood are high and you’re less likely to be distracted. Don’t “pencil it in”… write it in Sharpie. Without excuses. Without overwhelm. Without guilt.
Two things will happen when you practice Kaizen consistently:
- You will create a positive habit, which will naturally evolve into more time because you’ll be making progress, you’ll feel good, and you’ll continuously stimulate your brain’s reward centers. You will want to do more of whatever you’re doing for one minute, because it feels so good! As you become comfortable taking a minute for yourself, soon you will be okay taking five minutes… and twenty… in whatever increments feel good. Don’t rush it; let your Kaizen one-minute-per-day practice evolve organically so that it creates minimal upheaval in your routine.
- You will develop amazing self-confidence! If you’ve mentally rehearsed 30 times: “I can’t take on another project without sacrificing quality on the projects you already tasked me with,” it will be so much easier to actually say that to your boss and relieve yourself of the added pressure!
Give it 100%. This is important. Give it… you… what you’re doing/not doing… your undivided attention and best effort. Mono-task, slowly, deliciously, thoughtfully, mindfully, playfully.
Is one minute per day worth the effort? Absolutely! What will you actually stick with: 60 seconds of easy-peasy, or a sporadic hour of effort?
Wharton Business School professor Katherine Milkman has conducted studies that show that when people take small steps, such as writing an action into the calendar, they are more likely to follow through with it. So prompts like these (even the prompt is a tiny step) encourage other small actions that are easy to fit into your routine and do consistently.
Tiny steps create habits; and habits create effortless change. Looking back, you won’t even know how you did it, but the change will happen. And it will be a change that put you FIRST.
The science of change (preference for the old/known): http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103110001599
Letting the small steps count: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/headshrinkers-guide-the-galaxy/201111/let-the-small-steps-count