In my last blog post I talked about New Year’s resolutions. Now I want to focus on a particular idea that wasn’t expressly stated in that post. We know that change can be difficult; partly because the body as the mind wants things to remain the same or familiar. In order to break free from this routine you’re going to need will.
Before you can master your will, you need to know what it is and how it works. The kind of will I’m referring to doesn’t require “grit your teeth” determination. This is great for athletes, but can be counterproductive for our purposes. Besides, the most elite athletes can push themselves in this way because they’ve prepared themselves mentally and physically through years of training.
For what we’re doing, this level of intensity will produce negligible outcomes. Let’s use the example of a marathon runner to illustrate this point. This person started with a goal of running a marathon and slowly built up to 26.2 miles. By starting with shorter runs and gradually adding on, our marathon runner allowed his/her body time to adjust. Think about what would happen if he/she laced up their shoes for the first time and tried to achieve the same feat!
The same idea applies to you and your desire to produce lasting change. Maybe you want to become better with your finances, so you set a goal of saving money. A few weeks later you’re frustrated because at some point you went unconscious and ended up spending almost all of your paycheck. You decide you’ve failed, that you’ll never be good at this sort of thing, and you give up.
Well, a number of things interfered with your ability to change your habits. For starters, your intention wasn’t clear enough. Saving money is an undefined goal. How much do you want to save? Will you set aside money every week, every month? Why do you want to be better with your finances?
Creating a mental picture primes the brain to start thinking in different ways. Remember, your body as the mind has you stuck in the past. Here is where your will comes into play. If you start with a clear intention, you’re giving your brain something specific to focus on and work towards. It is much easier to direct your will to something like “saving 10% of your monthly paycheck” then it is to something vague like “saving money.” Being more specific about what you want simply defines your future reality better.
Keep in mind you may experience some setbacks. You might fail to save any money at all one month or maybe you only set aside 5% of your paycheck because you car broke down or you need a root canal. You’re bound to encounter some roadblocks and it shouldn’t be too surprising when you consider how entrenched your old ways are and how reluctant they will be to anything new.
The brain learns by mistakes as well. So don’t be so hard on yourself if you’ve missed the mark a few times. Just review what you did or didn’t do and then remind yourself what you would do in the same circumstances the next time—without guilt. That emotion will undoubtedly bring you back to the past.
Don’t push yourself too hard. Remember, this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon and you’re in training. Start small and work toward your larger objective with the knowledge that it doesn’t matter how fast you go forward. If you trust the process you’ll eventually move yourself out of the past and into the present moment. We know from the quantum model of the world that the present is full of infinite possibilities. And when your present moment is in alignment with your future reality, which you’re creating everyday and is awaiting you, you will begin to notice that your world is truly changing. Try it out.
Photo Courtesy Josiah Mackenzie via Flickr