I’m sure that by now you’ve realized that making changes in your life, even the positive ones, is hard. Our minds are wired to keep us safe, and changing the status quo comes with risk. That’s why we put off starting a new exercise routine, waking up earlier to meditate, or even drinking more water. Half of overcoming procrastination like this is understanding the process of change, and the other half is strengthening the “I do what I say I’m going to do” muscle.
Over the past five years, I realized that I wasn’t making fitness a priority in my life as much as I wanted to. Since I signed up to be a coach on my son’s mountain bike team that’s improved a bit, but I want to do better. Moving each day is something that I used to do and want to make a priority again. That’s one reason I joined a friend to do the 75 Hard challenge. It’s seventy-five days of being consistent with food, water, movement, and reading. While I’m sure there will be physical benefits, its main purpose (and my main goal) is to get mentally stronger.
I’m going to use the 75 Hard challenge now to walk you through the five stages of change, so you know what to expect the next time you want to make changes in your own life. If you’d like to see how I’m doing with the mental part of the challenge, you can follow along on Instagram.
The first phase occurs before you’re thinking about a problem or changing things. It’s when you first become aware that the possibility of making the change exists. It could come from something you read, a visit to the doctor, or hearing about it from a friend. For me, I learned about the challenge from a friend. I knew that in general, I ate pretty well, usually drank enough water, and I moved my body often. Yet I started to realize that I wasn’t as consistent at them as I thought, and that there may be good reasons to apply myself more.
Once I heard about 75 Hard, I moved into the second stage, contemplation. I recognized that I wasn’t following through on everything I said I was going to, and I couldn’t let time be an excuse. I’ve also been struggling with perimenopause and joint achiness, and I knew that making changes to my diet could help relieve inflammation. I considered all the benefits of being consistent with the challenge could bring, and I decided to go for it.
The stage between thinking about making a change and actually doing it is planning, and it happens to be the stage where most people spend far too much time. I definitely stayed in this stage for a while. I wanted to get organized about my food because I decided to eliminate added sugar, gluten, and dairy from my diet. I also wanted to ease into doing two workouts a day.
In the planning stage, there is a fine line between preparing and expecting to get it perfect the first time. It’s better to have an idea of a plan, and then be open to course-correcting once you implement the change.
Now that I’m nearly two weeks into the challenge, I’m well into the “action” phase. Since I didn’t know exactly how I was going to fit in two workouts each day in the beginning, I’ve been able to see where I can fit more movement into my life. Not every workout is intense, because I believe in listening to your body. So some days I do my postural exercises or some gentle yoga.
The final phase of making changes in your life is maintaining them. I’ve still got a long way to go in the 75 Hard challenge, so I’ll have to update you on what I plan on maintaining after it ends. I’ve already made many tweaks to my routine to meet the challenge objectives, and I can foresee many more to come. I also can foresee some roadblocks, like the family birthdays coming up when I’m going to choose to not eat birthday cake. Looking ahead for those roadblocks and planning for them is part of both the action and maintenance phases, and is important for achieving success.
There are always reasons to not start something, even when the benefits outweigh the cons; like not eating cake! Whether we’re trying to act on a small goal or a big dream, we always feel like we can start later. That sneaky brain that wants to keep us safe tells us that there’s plenty of time for that in the future. But what if the right time to start is now?
Now is always the best time to ask yourself what you’re waiting on and why. Consider how not taking action is impacting your life and the lives of those around you. If you'd like help with doing what you say you're going to do and moving towards your goals and dreams, I’d love to help. Reach out to me on social media or make an appointment for a free consultation. I can help you uncover why you're not moving forward or help you gain clarity on what you really want in the first place.
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