How do we create change? How can we take the lives that we have and make them better? In theory, creating change is simple: figure out what changes you would like to make, figure out what actions to take in order to make those changes a reality and then carry out those actions. The problem is that most of the results that we want are much grander than any single action can accomplish.
We don’t want $100, we want a million. We don’t want to burn 600 calories, we want to lose 10 pounds. We want to always feel good, we want to be happy and we want to enjoy our lives. Each of these things take repeated, consistent, uniform action over extended periods of time. The reason that most people fail to change is because they refuse to actually change. They hope to find a quick fix that will allow them to continue the lives that they are leading, but better.
However, certain aspects of your life may simply be incompatible with the life that you want to live. Certain habits that you may have will not allow you to accomplish the goals that you set for yourself. In large part, human beings are creatures of habit. We like the idea of habits because they allow us to take just about any situation or lifestyle, no matter how rough, intense or demanding and make life more comfortable. Our habits are the fence lining our comfort zone.
Being the naturally lazy creatures that we are — always doing our best to make life more pleasurable (or, rather, what we believe would make our lives more pleasurable) — we prefer staying within our comfort zones. Leaving our comfort zones is uncomfortable, unpleasant. This poses a difficulty. Most of us have managed to set up a tightly enclosed zone of comfort for ourselves, but forgot to encompass within it our goals and dreams. What we really want out of life is miles away from our playpen.
The only way for us to change our lives and to change them for good is to relocate our comfort zones. We need to take what we find comfortable and pleasant and move it all to the next town over, closer to the city we one day hope to strive in. In order to accomplish what we wish to accomplish and to create the lives that we want for ourselves, we must learn to change our habits.
Unfortunately, changing our habits is not easy — for one simple reason: it’s uncomfortable. No matter what your habits — healthy, unhealthy, productive, destructive — going against them will be uncomfortable. Most people don’t give discomfort the credit that it is due because most of us, if only subconsciously, do our best to avoid it. Why? Because it’s easier and more pleasant to avoid feeling uncomfortable.
The problem is that if you never feel discomfort then you clearly never leave your comfort zone. If you don’t leave your comfort zone then you will never form the habits that you need to form in order to succeed. That’s what it all comes down to: forming habits that will nurture and support your success. In order to change your life you must form new habits — habits in all aspects of your life, moving your comfort zone to new, unknown territory.
Once you have successfully changed those habits of yours that are holding you back, you can begin forming new habits that will only further your success. Thankfully, once the ball gets rolling, it’s easier to keep it rolling. However, even when you have managed to make huge changes, it’s always easy to revert back to your old ways. For this reason we must find some source of motivation that will keep us on track indefinitely.
Ideas, concepts or goals alone are not enough to motivate us. They are ideas — not living things that move and can affect. We can try to find outside sources of motivation, but unless you can hire a personal trainer and life coach to sit down with you every week, then you’re basically on your own. But this is not something that should scare you.
You can become your greatest motivator; all that you need to do is talk to yourself. Yes, it sounds silly. And yes, if you talk to yourself out loud, in public, then people may very well think that you are insane. But thankfully you can have full conversations with yourself inside your mind. Most people underestimate the strength and importance of talking to oneself. Not only will talking to yourself keep you sane — literally — it also works as the greatest motivational system the world has ever seen.
Once you know what you need to do in order to live the life that you want to live, then all you need to do in order to change the habits that you know need changing is to remind yourself that the actions that you are taking to get there, although incredibly uncomfortable, need to be taken. Talk to yourself. Every time that you begin to become lazy, every time that you consider falling off track or taking an unnecessary break, talk yourself back on track.
Yell at yourself. Scream at yourself. Be your own drill sergeant — just keep it inside your head or others really may think that you’ve gone nuts. You should have a continuous dialogue going on inside your mind at all times. It’s when that dialogue goes dry, when our voices become muffled and faded, do we lose ourselves and give in to our comforts.
You can change your life with repeated, specific action — the trick is actually going through with it all. Change your habits and sooner than you think you’ll find yourself within a new comfort zone — a comfort zone so far from your original comfort zone that you may have trouble understanding how it is that you were able to accomplish so much. And then you will have nothing but you and your inner drill sergeant to thank. Each of us has the power to change our lives. Most of us, however, rather remain comfortable.