I’ve been on vacation for the past week & I’m noticing some things about myself. I’ve seen myself slipping back into old habits again. Some of them aren’t so bad, but some of them I would like to let go of permanently. As I notice these old habits again, I’m thinking about how change is not always a linear process. It’s not always about moving from point A to point B and then you are done. Never to worry about point A again. Instead, it’s about adapting to new choices, making those choices over and over again and then maybe discovering that those choices still haven’t led to complete change and you need to try again.
Some of these old habits that I’m noticing creep into my life again are habits that I had hoped I had gotten rid of already. I now see that they’re still there in me somewhere & given the chance, they just might reappear in my life. Does that mean that I’m doomed to repeat those habits? No, I don’t think so. Instead, I think every time one of these habits reappears, it’s a chance for me to be aware of the habit and make a choice to change it. Each time it happens, my awareness grows and I’m able to spot this bad habit earlier.
To me, that’s actually encouraging. Change is usually not a one time action, but many actions taken over time. The awareness that I get each time I spot these habits leads me ever closer to the change that I’m seeking.
This need to make similar choices over and over again, is contrary to what most of us want to happen in life. Whether we want to admit it or not, we wish that we could make a decision once and then life changes for the better. It just doesn’t happen that way.
I’ll give you an example that most people can relate to. Think about eating healthier. Once you make the decision to eat healthier, you have the chance to make choices every single time you eat something. Do you eat that doughnut that looks so enticing? Or do you eat the carrots in the fridge? One is obviously healthier, but your decision has to be made every time this choice is presented. Maybe you’ve had an emotionally challenging day and that doughnut looks even better and that’s the choice that you make. Does that mean that you haven’t changed at all or does it mean that you’ve fallen back on an old habit of eating comfort food when you’ve had a difficult day? After giving in to this food choice of eating the doughnut, some people will just decide to eat their old way again, but some other people will recognize that it was only one food choice and that they can still change their overall way of eating even if they made this one decision to eat the doughnut.
The path to healthier eating isn’t through one food decision and this change takes not only time but continued awareness of your choices every time that you eat something.
This is true for so many changes in our lives. We are presented over and over again with the chance to make a change in our lives. Often we just don’t recognize that each decision is a step on this path of change. and that the change that is really accomplished is through the little choices that we make.
So, while I’ve seen a few old habits reappear briefly for this vacation, I know that when I get back into my normal routine, I’ll go back to making the choices that have led me to feel better, function better and enjoy my life even more. I don’t have to let a few decisions that I’ve made over my vacation completely negate the progress that I’ve made towards change in my life.
When you’re faced with something that you want to change in your life, instead of only focusing on the end result that you desire, also look at the small decisions that you make from day to day. Notice how they are leading you on that path to change and notice whether you’re moving forward, taking a step back or even taking a temporary side trip from the path as I did this week. Awareness of the path, the individual choices and the progress that you’ve made towards the change that you seek are all important to keep in mind.
Usually change won’t happen overnight. It will take time and perseverance. That little pill that will magically change our lives just doesn’t exist in most cases. You’ll have to make the choice to change over and over again. Change can happen but it will be in smaller increments than most of us like. That’s okay though. Just give it a chance to happen and it will.
If you need support for change in your life, schedule some sessions with me. I’ll help you find your path to change and then stick with it even when that change is hard to do.