How You Can Make Important Changes and Maintain Them Permanently

“I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” – Stephen Hawking

Change is hard. Everyone has things about themselves, their environment, or their lives that they want to change, but find it difficult or impossible to pivot and keep momentum after the initial sprint.

New Year’s resolutions are the perfect example of change we want for ourselves, but often allow ourselves to forget about. We go into the new year with a whole idea in our head of all the things we want to improve, but by February that resolve is long gone.

There are paths to change, however, and ways to improve the chances of sustaining those changes long-term. Nothing good comes easily. Failure is inevitable at some point in human life, but each failure is another step toward success.
Consider the anatomy of lifestyle changes below and try to be mindful of these facets with each and every change you try to implement in your life.

1. Overcoming Languor: You enjoy the quiet times and often feel tired, but how can you find motivation? Be deliberate, set goals, and track your progress against those goals without judgment. The more intentional your goal-setting becomes, the more likely you are to actually measure your success. Each measure of success is a tick in the “motivation” column. The more small changes you propose, the more you can complete.

2. Ignoring Outside Influence: With so many lost, stressed, or overall miserable people you encounter in life, it’s important to resist being dragged down yourself. To deal with the whirlwind of influence, it’s best to create inside influence. Create influence from your own dreams, wishes, feelings, and emotions and spread that positive energy into the world around you. There is also an added benefit of positively influencing those you interact with and helping them find their own reasons to make changes too. If there is someone that truly cannot be reached without professional help or they’re entirely resistance to your needed changes, you may have to weigh the pros and cons of cutting them out of your life.

3. Finding Happiness: Doing things you don’t enjoy is certainly possible and sometimes necessary, but not over an infinite timeline. Sustainability comes from activities that make you feel energized and happy. Choose a positive change activity in your life that you absolutely adore. Cling to the happiness.

4. Celebrating Milestones: You often hear the phrase “celebrate the wins” in your daily or corporate life and it’s true. Just like goal-setting, focus on small wins and aspects of your plan for change that have made you happy. Take the time to be grateful for being alive, having a bed to sleep in, and eating 3 meals a day. Don’t forget about all the small things in life that make you smile. Even if you’ve only accomplished 1% of your end goal, that progress and that laid brick are what make the wall’s completion possible.

5. Integrating into your Life: Making your changes and progress part of your everyday life so much so that you crave their completion is how you keep changes permanent. Do it at a regular time, consistently. Surrounding the change with events that coincide (i.e. you wake up, walk your dog, then do your exercise routine, then have a cup of coffee), you’re creating catalysts on either end to make sure the change sticks. These touchstones will help remind you every day of the change you’re making and help it feel more natural rather than a tack-on activity.

On that note, for my personal accountability’s sake, here are some changes that I’m trying to implement over the next year:

My Planned Changes

Write More: Writing is my passion and I’ve made a trackable vow to write at least 500 words a day on any subject.

Lose Weight: My goal is to lose 30 lbs by the end of 2021 through diet, exercise, and calorie tracking.

Spend More Time Speaking Positively About Life: Writing articles like these helps, but I want to find one thing every day that I’m grateful for and keep note of it.

Read More: I want to read at least 100 pages a week of books I have not read before.

Stop Ordering Out So Much: I am pledging to cook all but 2 meals a week.

Exercise More: My goal is to ride the Peloton for at least 20 minutes every single day.

Change Careers: I know I’m not happy in my current career path, and I want to make a serious career change by the end of 2021.

Travel More: I intend to go on 2 more trips to cities I have not visited before by the end of 2021.

Love More: This one is harder to quantify, but I want to openly show people I love how much I love them through kind words and acts of service.

You can change and you will change over and over again. Failure is a part of that process, but no work of art is truly complete. Believe in yourself and hold yourself accountable.