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The magic word: change. Change sometimes feels so elusive, yet we yearn for it. We often think, “I really want to change, I just don’t know how. I’ve tried, but it only lasts so long before I go back to my old ways.” Whether it’s wanting to lose weight or become more patient with your children, it comes down to deeply engrained habits. You’ve spent years thinking or behaving in the ways that you do, so of course, it can be extremely difficult to change these things. But, know that it IS possible. Here’s my list of seven steps and tips toward personal change:

1.) Key into your true motivation. Why do you really care if you reach your goal? What is at the root of it? Write this down as a personal mission statement. This is the big picture, the ultimate goal. Read it aloud daily. Post it where you’ll see it often. You must constantly be reminding yourself and motivating yourself. This can also help you be more excited about the work it will take as you progress toward your goal. It’s all about wrapping your mind around the new way of being: accepting it and welcoming it.

2.) Assess where you’re starting from. You won’t know if you’re making progress unless you know where you started out. Write down a snapshot of what this aspect of your life currently looks like. Make it as concrete as possible by using numbers to classify your current status.

3.) Start small. Pick one or two items at a time that will aid you in reaching your larger goal. Pick goals that are achievable and measurable, and write them down. As you master those, initiate one or two new habits to add to your repertoire. Just keep building little by little.

4.) Share your goals with friends and family, and/or join an online support community (there are many available especially for health/weight loss, parenting, etc.) This will provide you with a support system for encouragement and accountability.

5.) Log your progress in a notebook daily or weekly. This will keep you focused and will also help you troubleshoot problematic road bumps – so that these road bumps don’t halt your progress altogether.

6.) Set up rewards for when you accomplish these smaller goals. Or, notice and enjoy the natural rewards that follow.

7.) Go easy on yourself when you slip up. You are not perfect – and that’s okay. The process of change is not a straight line, rather it’s an upward, diagonal spiral. At times you may feel like you’re going backward. You may have days where you don’t reach your goals; but don’t be too hard on yourself. The negativity will surely impede your progress. Just learn from it, let it go, and take the next opportunity to try again.

Continue on with this process until the life you have reflects the one you desire! Best wishes on your journey toward change.

Compiled/Written by: Laura Morris, CMHC