Last week I blogged about how a tiny degree of change can alter the course of one’s life. Lest it sound like all you have to do is tweak one little thing and life will be awesome, let me remind us all that change is hard work.

First, I have to be willing to change. That means being brutally honest about the consequences of the path I’m currently on. Until the pain of staying the same is worse than the pain of the unknown or the agony of sacrifices ahead, I’ll never find the discipline necessary to change my direction. I have to get sick of where I am to the point that I’m willing to change. (This is where “I should probably lose some weight” becomes “I have to lose weight now.”)

Second, I have to have a clear vision of where I want to go. Like my recent weight loss journey, I needed to visualize a thinner, healthier, more energetic me in the future. A me with a trim waistline instead of an overflowing muffin top. It’s all about seeing beyond the journey to the glorious destination. Those future rewards will sustain me through the hard days in the trenches because I can look up and see beyond my current situation to where I want to go.

Third, I have to do the work. Wanting to change and seeing the goal are not enough. I have to put my head down and execute the plan. Every day I say no to the momentary pleasure and yes to the future vision, my character muscle gets stronger. Often, the work takes place in the mind. Instead of an old pattern of thought and behavior—a four-lane superhighway with easy on-ramps—I am blazing a new trail that requires bush-whacking through the wilderness. It takes concentration and it takes effort. It takes getting back up after failure, brushing myself off, and taking another step in the right direction. Given enough time, this new trail becomes smooth and obstacle free while the old neglected highway starts to crack and crumble.

Changing my diet was hard. I was addicted to caffeine in the form of diet pop. As in a two-liter a day just to keep myself going and all those artificial sweeteners had messed up my metabolism. After putting in the work and saying no to a lot of temptation, I’m not only thinner, but I’m feeling better than I have in a long time. Changing was hard, but the results have been worth the sacrifice.

But there are other areas where I’m changing. Biting my tongue and speaking kindly instead of complaining. Finding something to be grateful for each day. Speaking and showing my love to my immediate family daily. Writing regularly during my Turtle Power hour. Feeding my spirit in new and creative ways. And that’s before I start factoring in new plans for my writing business that will require subtle changes too.

Change is possible. Change is even necessary. Change is hard work, but the results are worth the cost.

What about you? Is it easy for you to get out of your rut and change? What motivates you to change? How do you keep disciplined during the drudgery days?

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