Part 3: Recognize your patterns and begin to change your life
Cultivating a mindset that works with you and not against you can be a messy work in progress. It’s not that you finally figure it out and poof, you’re Teflon to life’s troubles. You will still have bad days, but the difference lies in your ability to bounce back more quickly and with less mental effort.
The more you work at fine-tuning your techniques and invest in setting yourself up for success, the more quickly you can recover from an event that would normally derail you for days or months.
It takes showing up, again and again, determined to get better. Determined to ignore the inner voice and push through the discomfort that all change brings with it. But the more you show up, the more productive, successful, and aligned with your goals you’ll become.
Think of it like this. Many of us have the goal of wanting to lose weight. We decide it’s time, and we go about it in a similar fashion: exercise more, eat less and we should see the pounds melt off over the course of a couple of weeks. Easy-peasy.
That’s not the real issue though, nor is it the right strategy. Understanding your role in the problem is step one.
How do you do that? It begins by being brutally honest with yourself.
Next, it’s important to not hold yourself to unattainable standards. There is no “doing it perfectly”. You will falter and that’s ok. You’re human.
Finally, instead of diving head first into a new routine that turns your life upside down, you need to create a new system or pattern that can actually work for you in the long run. A new way to go about life so you can set yourself up for success, but one that aligns with who you are.
Getting up at 5 am to drive to the gym when you’ve never woken up before 7 is going to take a serious commitment from you. You have to ask yourself if that is truly something you can maintain and commit to for the long haul.
Things need to get uncomfortable in order for there to be change. This is the experimental phase. And this is where many people falter.
The real problem is the ease in which we can fall back into old patterns. Change is difficult and uncomfortable and as soon as we realize that, that’s when the resistance comes into play. We begin with the “shoulds” and the “I’m not good enough” banter and things begin to slide and soon we’ve abandoned our goals and slipped right back into our old ways.
Instead of berating yourself and letting your inner critic poo-poo all over you, realize that the problem isn’t you. The problem is that your system is the same, and your patterns haven’t changed.
Patterns are deeply rooted in our subconscious and difficult to extract ourselves from, but slowly and consciously, you can create the change needed to help you achieve your goals.
Take stock of your life and see how you treated exercise in the past. Did you ever have a long streak of working out? Think about what was working at that time, what patterns did you create and follow through with that made it possible?
When you lost weight before, what were you eating and how long did you sustain that for? Think of your day to day and what made it possible to eat healthier? Were you better at tracking your food? Were you cooking more at home? What positives can you take from past behaviors and apply to today?
It’s a process of figuring out a sustainable system that can work for you.
Maybe things aren’t working because you’re taking on more without letting some other things go. There needs to be a change in your patterns.
An example of a bad pattern can be something as simple as walking into the kitchen and grabbing a snack. I noticed this happening with me every time I entered my kitchen. My brain would automatically think, Oh I’m hungry, let’s see what there is to snack on in the panty.
My pattern became this: Walk into the kitchen, have a look-see in the pantry and grab something quick to eat. Repeat even if I wasn’t hungry.
Once I realized this pattern, it became possible to alter it. I don’t linger in the kitchen as much now. If work needs to be done, I don’t bring my computer to the kitchen counter, I take it up to my office. I even began walking into my kitchen a different way. There are two entrances, so I would take the path less traveled. Something as simple as that can throw your old pattern for a loop!
Other ways to break some common patterns are to stop watching TV at night so you can get up early in the morning to exercise or meditate, or journal.
You can stop buying convenience foods and instead devote time to cooking more at home (time saved driving to and from the grocery store can be spent cooking at home). You can pack your kids lunches at night so you can spend time in the early morning to write. Start or end your day in a whole new way to break up old patterns.
If you need things in your life to change, it’s better to invest in creating new patterns than a gym membership. Put in the effort to recreate parts of your day that aren’t working for you. No matter how small the change in pattern, it can create a ripple effect.
Understand that in order to be successful at anything, you must get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Change isn’t easy, and altering and creating new patterns isn’t a cakewalk, but the effort you put forth will set the groundwork for a new, healthier way of life, I promise you that!
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Now it’s time for you to share. What little things can you do today to change up an old pattern that’s getting in your way? Can the dishes stay in the sink a little longer while you go for a run? Will the world fall apart if your son or daughter wears a dirty soccer jersey today? Can you change the conversation in your head that says you have no time to exercise today? In what small way can you begin to change a pattern?
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This is my third post in a three post-mini-series on how to create a powerful mindset so you can learn strategies that can take you from where you are now, to where you want to be. To read more, click here!