"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on ways to create change in your life
By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea
When we feel stuck or dissatisfied in our life, it is usually a sign that something needs to change as our basic needs are not being met.
It is a signal, to get out of our head and become curious about what is going on for us, around us and to us.
Last week, we discussed how we can find ourselves accustomed to boredom, simply because we become stuck in unchecked patterns of behaviour and routines that do not serve us. If we don’t break these patterns and create change, it becomes hard to grow.
And it is my belief that if we aren’t growing, we are not really living our best life.
Stepping outside our comfort zone for a road you’ve not yet travelled is challenging – it’s sometimes hard to see that change needs to occur, and harder still to make that change a reality.
Continually thinking about doing something differently can get us caught in a loop where nothing actually happens. We just continue to think about it.
Action is therefore essential – you must go beyond thinking about change to live it.
Forcing ourselves to confront these challenges despite our discomfort, enables us to start.
It enables us to push outside of the limits that we place on ourselves and start making the change that we want to see.
Perhaps you begin with a self-audit, consider how you may be robbing yourself of the life you actually want.
Be honest, what is holding you back? Where are you holding yourself captive?
Once you recognise what ‘it’ is, work out what change you can make today that will release you from past behaviours and create the shift that you want to see.
This doesn’t have to be an immediately life-altering decision. This is not about quitting your job, or dissolving a partnership or jumping on a plane with a ticket to travel the world.
This is about creating clarity, and from that, starting to set a plan for not only the change that you want to make, but also how you are going to make it happen.
It is about taking notice and introducing small and consistent actions aligned to a bigger goal.
Start small with something that you can incorporate into less than 2 minutes of your day, and where possible link it to a reward.
According to James Clear, habits are built around a feedback loop consisting of cue, craving, response, reward. A cue triggers a craving, leading to a response that results in a reward which satisfies the craving.
New habits will start to build and feel worthwhile when they are linked to feelings of success. Our brain is hardwired in a way that it will tell us a new habit is worth it if we start to feel positive feelings that are associated with reward, like satisfaction and enjoyment. When we feel disappointed, sad, or unfulfilled, we tend to avoid doing the same thing again.
The reality is that with persistence, patience, self-compassion, and a little bit of insight into how our biology can assist us, we can enact change.
So, what does this look like in practice?
Imagine you would like to become a person who likes to exercise in the morning, but you find yourself hitting the snooze button and staying in bed. There are little steps you can take to create that AM fitness lifestyle for yourself.
On the days that you get up as soon as your alarm goes off, reward yourself. Even if that reward is that you get 10 minutes of quiet to read the news on your phone before the rest of the house gets up.
Once you develop the practice of getting out of bed, you put your exercise shoes on.
Maybe even do a few push ups or lunges while listening to your favourite podcast or song. On those days when you get up and do some exercise, your reward might be that you grab a coffee or phone a friend on the way to work. That feels good doesn’t it!
The key is starting, because once you start, you begin to develop and embed new routines that support your bigger goal.
What small step can you take today that will get you started?