You may have noticed, or not, that many people who made a promise to themselves to change for the New Year have now, after five weeks, gone back to their old ways. We made the decision to eat better, exercise, practice more, work with an instructor, or improve our attitude. But what is so amazing is how many of us fall short in just a few short weeks. Why? Why is it so easy to say, but so hard to do?
The answer lies in our Self Image. We have enormous amounts of imprints of our old habits and attitudes and they tend to overshadow the new imprints we are trying to generate. This makes change difficult. So the question becomes, "How do I make change easier?" It doesn't matter if your trying to improve your golf game or lose some weight. It doesn't matter if you promised your doctor that you would eat better or that you are going to put in more practice time every week. No matter what you want to change, it has start with changing your Self Image.
Self Image tends to direct our life. It's easy to concentrate on something for a short period of time, but over time our Self Image challenges the new thoughts and something has to give. We either change our Self Image by thinking and acting the way we want or our Self Image forces our thoughts to shift back to the old self. This battle may remind you of the little devil and angel on your shoulder battling out what's best for you. It is why we promote using a directive affirmation as outlined in With Winning in Mind. This is the most powerful Self Image changing tool that one can use, but it takes commitment and discipline to use properly. Before you go off and create a directive affirmation, try the following steps first. These steps may get you on track and get you where you want to go. If they don't, then use the directive affirmation.
First, write a list of the changes you want to make. If you write down the things you want to change it will give you a better idea of how you can prioritize your goals. I have a client that wants to get into better shape. He thinks it will help his golf game and life if he could take off 20 pounds. While this may be true, it's a lot harder to do than to say. He decided to get up 30 minutes earlier and exercise everyday. He made a decision to drink more water and give up soft drinks. Although the plan sounds great, it only lasted six days.
By the end of week one John had lost some weight, 2 pounds. But life got in the way. He had a business trip in the beginning of week two. This got him off track. Instead of water on the plane, it was diet coke. Then it was, "I'll get to my exercise routine when I return home". What do you think happened?
If John would have made a list he would have listed the following: drink more water, eat better, exercise more. By doing this we can now prioritize our list and tackle them one at time. This allows the Self Image to be more comfortable with the desired change.
Second, take small steps. You must first crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run. John could have made similar progress by changing one thing instead of many. It's sometimes easier to make one change at a time. For example, he could have said, I am going to limit myself to two soft drinks a day and be discipline to drink water the rest of the time.
Third, tell someone. There is power in a support group and you need someone to keep you honest and on track. By sharing your goal with someone else they can help keep you motivated and move you into having the attitude you want. If John would have told his instructor that he wanted to get into shape and lose weight for better results on the golf course, his instructor would have been able to help him stay on track. Let's say John had a lesson in the middle of week two and the instructor was informed of John's plan, he would have been able to ask him how that plan was working. This would have helped put John back on track.
Four, set a time table. Give yourself three or four weeks to change this new habit and attitude you want. This sounds so much more realistic than making a life change. The Self Image is more willing to give in for short periods of time. By doing this we are able to stay motivated long enough to increase the likelihood of having permanent Self Image Change.
So try these techniques and see if you can have the change in your life that will give you the results you need.
By Troy Bassham, Director of Junior Development