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How to make life changes stick once and for all!
I've chosen to change, now what?!?
You've decided to dive right into the personal development arena in your own life, for your own reasons. You've read some of the best books, maybe you've even taken some courses or attended some seminars. You've obviously gotten to the point where you've already implemented a few changes in your life, but you haven't yet figured out how to create larger more meaningful changes in your life that actually STICK.
If this describes you to a T, then this hub will be your saving grace. I've been swimming through the ocean of personal development for over 16 years, and if there is one thing I've found to be most common, is that many valuable mentors forget to include in their methods, the secret to making lasting changes stick easily and nearly effortlessly.
Thankfully, creating lasting changes really isn't that big of a secret in the first place, it's simply a matter of explaining the formula in a way that makes as much sense to as many people as possible, which is what this hub will attempt to do.
If, at any point while reading this hub, you find yourself unclear about anything that's been laid before you, or you've found something much more effective, please feel free to comment below and add to this global knowledge base.
The first thing any person ready for true and authentic changes in their lives, must do, is create leverage.
This really isn't very complicated step, though depending on how far you are in your journey of growth, it can sometimes feel like a complicated process. The trick with it, is that you need to create such strong leverage to stick with your change, that you won't consciously or subconsciously find a way to get out of it. Human beings are creatures of habit, and our subconscious minds do not have any sort of meter that tells it when the habit your stuck with is a negative or a positive one. It simply knows that the rewards and downfalls to your current habits are well known, and so they appear to be safer. Because your subconscious knows that it knows this, it will fight like a giant squid to hold onto those habits rather than release and allow you to float freely into your new habits.
Now, consider that your subconscious mind has the reasoning abilities of about a 9 or 10 year old child. You can yell, you can demand, you can threaten, you can punish, you can do any manner of things that might seem like they would work, but nothing will get through until you earn back the trust you used to have in yourself. You don't want to be to lenient and airy about this process, but trying to strong arm yourself into success, just won't happen.
In order to get your whole being into the process, you need to create leverage that acts as both the carrot and the stick. This leverage must be so good in your minds eye, that there are little to no reasons for you to go back to what you were doing before, and the consequences of not achieving your goals now, must be so apparent and so detrimental that you'll never allow yourself to go back.
Now, here's where we stick our hands in the meat and start kneading it into the most beautiful loaf ever known. Below, I'm going to give you some examples of changes that many people seek to make in their lives, and the leverage the most successful of those people have used to propel them forward.
Enjoying the Process of Eating Better
I must achieve my ideal weight
I will prove to myself that I can succeed in anyway I must
This will cost me anymore chances to pretend I don't have control over the things that happen in in life.
I must cultivate a disease and illness free body
I will gain more energy, endurance and longevity whenever I want it
This will cost me any further excuses for not taking care of myself or going out and enjoying life
I must boost my self-esteem
I will gain greater confidence and self-assurance in my own ability to succeed
I won't have anymore chances to blame other people or circumstances on my personal level of happiness
I must spend less on clothing myself
I will gain more financial resources for activities I enjoy
I won't have anymore reasons for not getting out of debt and achieving financial freedom
I must create way to feed my greater need for certainty and significance
I will prove to myself that I can provide for my every emotional and physcial needs, so that I am independent of any outer hold ups that do not support me
I will lose the ignorance and belief that my circumstances were ever out of my direct control
In each of these tables, you'll notice some common features. Keep your eyes peeled for any time you see the words MUST, GAIN, COST, LOSE, PROVIDE or WONT. These are your Power Words, and they are a part of what will make your formula successful. When you use the right words, your subconscious mind will know what you want from it, and your conscious mind will gain the ability to focus on your desires without intense effort.
Finding Joy in the Process of Achieving Financial Freedom
I must be free from the pain and strain of financial and psychological debt
I will enjoy more pleasure and joy in my life by gaining control over my finances
I will lose the certainty knowing what my life will be like with debt in it
I must spend less than I make
I will be able to explore new opportunities and maintain my financial freedom
This will cost me any future excuses for not saving money or spending my resources on unnecessary items
I won't ever have to beg, borrow or steal money ever again
I won't ever have to feel the insignificance, uncertainty or embarassment of not being able to support myself.
I will be expected to care for myself without financial support from my community
I must have more financial resources available to me
I will be able to afford to eat better, exercise more and create more pleasure in my life
I won't have anymore excuses for not eating better, exercising more and enjoying my life as much as possible
I must create sustianable ways to provide for my own needs of financial certainty
I will have control over my own financial actions and decisions
This will cost me the ability to be able to blame my level of happiness or life circumstances on my finances
I must create an income that allows the flexability I need
I will be able to take time off whenever I need it for myself, my family and my community contributions
I won't have any more opportunities to run away into my work and ignore the actions I know I must be taking
As you've already noticed, there are several specific attributes to these leverage tables, that have made them so successful for the people who have mastered them. I'm sure you've spotted those attributes, but just in case you haven't yet moved forward into making your own, let's go over them now:
1. Each goal is specific, stated in the present tense and has a positive spin.
2. Each table includes several specific reasons for why you MUST achieve your goal, several specific things you will gain and several specific loses you will experience when you achieve your goal. You MUST have each of these areas in your table in order for this process to work. You need very specific reasons for why you are seeking to change. These reasons need to include the emotional needs you must meet, the opportunities in your life that you'll now have and any other specific reason you can think of to compel you forward. Your Gain's section MUST have a specific gain for every Why you have available. What will you gain from achieving this goal? Likewise, your Cost's section must have specific costs or loses that you'll experience if you don't change. These need to be just as compelling, and there is no use in trying to convince yourself that there are no costs involved with self-improvement. There definitely are, and often times, it's when people overlook this aspect, that they fail to achieve their goals when they expected to. You must acknowledge that there are benefits to failure, just as there are benefits to succeeding. They may not be hugely helpful benefits, but they are there nonetheless, and they will hold you back if you do not acknowledge them.
To bring this home, it's important to sit back and think about what your costs are. Often times, when a person has developed a habit of overeating, it's not just because they want to be fat, unhappy and feeling ugly. Is it? I don't think so! No, it's because there are benefits to maintaining this habit. One benefit could be the significance of being a part of a larger group of people who also have the same challenge. Another reason might be because of a fear of losing a connection with yourself. Eating has always been a way to reconnect with the body and mind. For some people, it's also a way to reconnect with happier memories of eating at home with mom or enjoying social gatherings with food focal points. A person who overspends doesn't do so just so that they can remain in debt, be without important resources or not be able to provide for themselves. To the contrary, they often splurge on items or services that don't serve them, as a means of escaping or distracting themselves from other issues in their lives. Or it might be that all the unneeded shopping is a way to reward themselves for doing good things in their lives.
None of these are bad things, and it's important to acknowledge to every part of your mind, that you have been doing all this with pure and good intentions. Before now, you didn't know of a better way and you were unaware that you had all the control to create better pathways for meeting your needs and achieving your goals. By acknowledging these loses in your success table, you're being realistic and giving yourself a true opportunity to create better standards for yourself and stop accepting the lack of success you experience in your life.
What do you think is your top need right now?
Identify Your Needs
In order to solidify your success tables, you need to identify which needs are your greater needs. As you noticed, I listed a few needs in the tables above like certainty, significance and connection. These are just a few of the basic emotional needs that all humans must fill. According to the heirachy of needs as condensed by Tony Robbin's Cloe Madanes, our basic emotional needs are:
Certainty - The need to feel that you will always be able to gain more pleasure and get ride of more pain in your life.
Variety - The need for adventure, spontinaety and stimulation.
Significance - The need to feel worthy of love.
Connection & Love - The need to connect with yourself and others around you, to love and be loved in return.
Growth - The need to become greater than you are now.
Contribution - The need to give back to the world around you.
There are many other words and labels we might use to describe the above needs, but they are there nonetheless. We must meet them. The question isn't about whether you will meet them, but in how you will meet them. If you just allow your decision making to remain up to the wind, you'll meet your needs in whatever way meets the least resistance, which usually ends up eating poorly, overeating, overspending, undersaving and not taking care of yourself or your family.
I know that isn't what you want, and it certainly isn't what I want for you, so let's take the time now to sit and discover which of your needs is greater, so that you can support and sustain that need easily and effectively.
Now, in order to identify which of your needs are greater, the best way is to start out with a list. Start with need #1, the need you need met the most.
To make this easier, imagine that you're someone who has goals of becoming physically fit, financially free and intimately fulfilled. In short, you want to look good, feel good, have enough money and be in love with someone who loves you in return.
Chunk down each subject into it's own space, then write each of the seven needs below those subjects and rate the level of fulfillment you're currently achieving on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being your need is absolutely met and 1 being that your need is not at all being met in that category. Use the tables below as examples.
Certainty = 2
Certainty = 2
Certainty = 2
Variety = 8
Variety = 5
Variety = 4
Significance = 4
Significance = 6
Significance = 4
Connection & love = 3
Connection & love = 4
Connection & love = 5
Growth = 2
Growth = 4
Growth = 6
Contribution = 6
Contribution = 8
Contribution = 6
What about now?
With a table in front of you, it's easier to see what your primary needs are. If your table would look similar to the one above, we could list your needs in this order:
#3. Connection & Love
Once you've hashed out a need priority list, sit back and let it sink in. If you feel like a need should be moved up or down, then do it. Though if you waffle between the importance of a few needs, don't move them around, remind yourself that you're going to work on meeting all of your needs, so that none will be neglected, and you can always change the list around later as you evaluate your growth over time.
This list is here to give you clarity, so that you can sit down and work with the needs you have. With them listed in front of you, you'll be better able to sit down and hash out a list of positive ways you can meet each need. You certainly don't even have to meet them in the order you listed them, do what feels right for you.
It's All In Your Mind
Whether you choose a physical reward and deterrent, or metaphoric ones, the point is that you recognize it's all in your mind at this point. Your programming so far has been to simply think about things that you want, but not to create triggers that drive you towards what you want. Master this skill, and you'll be unstoppable.
You need rewards and deterrents to help you stay on track. Every time you put away $50 in your savings, give yourself $5 to spend. You can save it or spend it immediately, whatever is most rewarding for you, so long as you actually put a full $50 in your savings account and do not touch it.
If your aim is to quit smoking, you can sniff or lick some hot-sauce anytime you want to smoke, or you can turn it around and do something you really love whenever you have a craving, like eat a piece of candy. Likewise, you could literally tear up a $5 bill anytime you buy a new pack, or treat yourself to a new book whenever you resist.
Regardless of which rewards and deterrents you choose, make sure they are consistent and that whenever you use one, they will remind you of the greater needs you are meeting and the fantastic benefits you'll be gaining by following through.
Multiple Access Points
Often times, we get so focused on only one action or outcome, that when we get what we wanted in a different way than we expected, we end up assuming it's a loss instead of a win. Don't do that to yourself! Instead, create multiple access points for achieving your goals. This is why in the first success tables, it was so important that we used goals that were present tensed, long-term and open. We didn't say Lose Weight, we said Enjoy the process of Eating Healthy. We didn't just say, Get Out of Debt, we said Find Joy in Creating Financial Freedom.
Take a serious look at the goals there. If you're simply trying to lose weight, you run into several big road blocks. The first is that your subconscious sees that as losing something it currently has, and loss is bad. The second is that you don't just want to lose weight, do you? No! You want to shed 50 pounds, keep it off and still be able to eat healthy foods that don't taste like cardboard and chalk. Not to mention, if you're goal is to Enjoy the process of eating healthy, you can find way more opportunities to achieve your goal than you would if you simply set your sights for dropping a few pounds. It works the same way with any goal that you set.
Go for the goals that give you the most access points for success. The more opportunities you have and the easier they are to achieve, the more likely you will be able to stick with it and see the results you're after.
Go ahead and sit down now and list at least 10 ways that you can achieve your current goals. I promise you'll easily get past 10, and that's a good thing. When I started my list of ten, I didn't even have to get create until I hit 55.
Make it COMPELLING
This is usually the part where the writer reminds the reader of Thomas Edison and his heroic pursuit of creating the light bulb, and many other men and women of similar stellar character. I'm not going to do that. However, I will remind you that the past is not a reflect of the future.
Most of the worlds successful people, didn't achieve success by using any new tricks or gimmicks. In fact, they really didn't do anything all that special. They simply modified a lot of old practices. They realized that the past isn't a reflection, it's a canvas. A reflection is static, you can't change it or play with it. A canvas however, is something you can use to paint the future that you want.
Successful people have recognized the value in mastered the basics; like creating lists, goals and flowcharts, changing their mindsets, creating triggers and growing their awareness. After mastering the fundamentals, they shaped those tasks and skills to their own tastes and styles. This is why virtually every self-help book or course will teach you the same things, except with an individual twist from each author.
The one thing that many personal development books and courses have yet to be able get across in easily digestible way, is that in order for any tool you use to be effective, you have to already have a COMPELLING image in your mind and an excited feeling in your body.
It's not enough to simply sit back and daydream randomly about what you'll do when you have a million dollars and an equal amount of free-time. You need to sit yourself down, clear that cluttered mind of yours and really honestly truly develop a compelling destiny that you will be compelled to create. It has to be strong enough that there will be nothing that can put itself between you and that destiny.
This is where everything you've been working on gets the most serious, and it's important to acknowledge that your subconscious mind is going to hold back a bit while you get started. You need to allow yourself to open up to every possibility and write down everything you really want. There is nothing that you should feel guilty or shameful about wanting. A big house? A new car? You can have them! Their yours! A healthy fit body? A loving relationship? Friends who care? They are all yours! You just have to get them down on paper and out of your head so that you can work with them!
And most importantly, you need to write them down NOW. This hub isn't going anywhere, so you can come right back to it, but YOUR LIFE is not going to stop ticking away, so don't waste what you've got left of it. Sit down now, clear your mind and write down your destiny. Put anything in it that you've always wanted to achieve. The sky isn't even the limit!
There aren't even any rules to this task, though I will leave you with some helpful hints that will make your destiny even more compelling:
1. Write out where you want to be in 1 year, 7 years and 20 years (I like to start with 20 years and work backwards into my current situation, but you can start wherever you're most comfortable)
2. Answer some questions for yourself such as:
- How much money exactly do I need to generate in order to have more than enough (meaning all the bills/expenses, money is put away in savings and there is enough money left over to enjoy your life)
- What kind of career will I have that will provide this financial freedom, my happiness, all the time off I could ever ask for and resources for future generations? (Will it be your own business? Will you make something or provide a service? Get detailed!)
- Who will I take to the top with me? (Lovers, brothers, sisters, friends, family, etc...)
- How will I contribute to the world? (Will you start a charity? Donate consistently to a charity you already love? Or is there something else you'll do to better the world? Will it be local or global?)
- How will I think about myself and how far I've come in 1 year, 7 years and 20 years?
Persistent 30 Day Change Challenge
Now, to cement all your hard work over the past years working on improving yourself and designing your destiny, it's time to set it in stone.
To do that, you MUST make it a MUST to commit to reading and re-reading every page of your compelling destiny, practicing your new habits and taking at least 1 action towards your goals everyday for a MINIMUM of 30 days.
Human minds are amazing, and they have this innate ability to master nearly anything within 30 days. This is a supreme ability that YOU already have. You may have already noticed you have it, or this may be news to you, but either way, it's important that you never take that ability for granted. USE IT! Allow that ability to compel you forward.
Once you allow yourself to tap into this power, you'll find that 31 days after practicing your new behaviors, you really don't have to think about them anymore. You can already run 5 blocks in 10 minutes and you're savings account is already ahead by $100 bucks. After 40 days, you won't have to go back and read your written destiny (even though you will anyways) because it will be so ingrained in your mind that it leads you to make better decisions that lead to actions that keep you on your destined path and bring you all the proof you need that you're succeeding. After 60 days, you'll have already decided to take on new goals and will be eagerly awaiting the day when 12 months has already passed. What will life be like for you then?
- Create Leverage
- Use Magic Words
- Identify Your Needs
- Create Triggers
- Design Your Destiny
- Master It In 30 Days
- LATHER. RINSE. REPEAT