The Liberating Struggle of Behavior Change

Life Balance

Nora and Tim help you find balance when dealing with a stressful debt situation. Learn how to manage stress and enjoy travel without breaking the bank.

The Liberating Struggle of Behavior Change

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Repeat after me: What will I do differently in 2011?

Say it again.

The Liberating Struggle of Behavior ChangeGet in a quiet room by yourself and say it out loud.

Say it ten times if you need to.

Grab a pen and a notepad and start writing down some answers.

 Your answers can be anything: little tips and tricks, serious changes of habit, pipe dreams, whatever. You can edit them in a minute. For now, just let yourself roll.

When you've got enough items -- could be six, could be 30 -- tear off that sheet and start rewriting them under headings on a fresh sheet. They'll probably fall into a few categories. If you're like most people, some of the categories will be:

  • Money
  • Fitness/Health
  • Relationships/Family
  • Career
  • Your dream life

There will be overlaps. Maybe your dream life includes eliminating debt, finding a mate, and landing a new job. Maybe healing your money issues will help you heal your marital issues (and vice versa). That's fine -- just repeat things under separate headings, if need be.

Now What?

Do these three things:

  • 1. Read my recent blog titled "Fostering Flow across Your Life" and use it to brainstorm single behaviors you can adopt that meet several needs at once.
  • 2. Say to yourself -- out loud, over and over if necessary -- "These changes will be worth it. I can do this." Make those two sentences your mantra. Write them on a card that you carry around in your pocket. Say them with a smile on your face, even if you have to fake it at first.
  • 3. Make the decision that you will change some basic conditions in your life to support these new behaviors.

Steps 1 and 2 are good ones, but Step 3 is the doozy. I urge you not to ignore it, and not to put off committing to the decision for even one minute.

Implementing the decision will take longer, of course. It may take the rest of your life. But you can commit to it right now. And, indeed, you must, if you want those wonderful changes to come.

How Do You Change Your Behavior?

This is how you implement Step 3: Lay down new habits, from the ground up.

If you need to make more money by doing some freelancing, set your alarm clock for 4:30 a.m. and spread out your freelancing materials on the kitchen table before you go to bed every night. When the alarm goes off, get up, head straight to the table, and start working. Seven days a week.

Not a morning person? I don't care. Do it anyway. But do it lovingly. Talk yourself through it: "I know this is tough. I don't like getting up early. But I'm starting to get the hang of it, and the extra income will really help."

Go back to your mantra from Step 2. Go back to your list of big, meaningful actions you're taking to change your life for the better. Remind yourself of the big picture.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. Four weeks from now, getting up at oh-dark-thirty will seem easy -- or, if not easy, at least straightforward. You'll have a head of steam going. You'll have a new habit in place.

The same is true for eating right, spending less, getting regular exercise, expanding your social circle, or writing the Great American Novel. You can find new behaviors that support these goals, and you can ingrain new habits that support those behaviors. You can do it.

Let New Habits Change You

You don't have to become a different person. Lightning need not strike, and you don't have to wait for Cupid or the money fairy to solve your problems. In fact, you shouldn't wait for anything "magical" like that.

Slowly but surely, the new outcomes you want will proceed from the new behaviors you exhibit. When you start making those behaviors automatic -- whether by getting up at 4:30 every day, cutting up your credit cards, taking on more responsibilities at work or whatever -- you can't help but get better results.

And those new behaviors will set you free.

The ball's in your court. Are you going to go for surface changes that don't work? (Think about it for a second: they haven't worked in the past, have they?) Or are you going to start from the ground up?

Tell me: What are you DOING about it, right now? 


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Tim WalkerTim Walker

Tim is a writer, marketer, and social media pro in Austin. He joined CareOne's blogging team as a contributing writer for the Life Balance blog in 2009. As a blogger who has personally overcome debt challenges, he draws from his own experience to provide tips on living a balanced life and keeping fit. You can read more of his thoughts (on fitness and everything else) at his personal blog, What I've Learned So Far. Compensated CareOne Blogger

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