5 Habits to Lasting Change

Nancy Kuhn, M.A., LMFT

Wow it’s February already!  How are you doing with those New Year’s resolutions??  January flew by for me, as I’m sure it did for many of you.  All those goals to get healthier – weight loss, work out, get more sleep, cut back on the alcohol use, get together with friends more often, use technology less, read a book, be kinder to your wife/husband/kids….how are you doing with accomplishing what you intended this year?  I know for me, it’s not happening nearly fast enough and certainly it is not as EASY as I wish it would be.

To make a lasting change, you must develop habits to support whatever change you are trying to make.  Here are 5 habits that will guarantee lasting change:

  1.  Take Control of Your Mind.  Our beliefs control our actions.  Many of us get caught in fear, worry, doubt and even despair because of our life circumstances. What separates those people who when dealt a difficult situation seem to rise above it and live with vitality vs. those who crumble and limp through the rest of their life?  The number one difference is their belief system.  How do you take control of the beliefs you have about yourself, about the world, and about the crap you are dealt in this life?  By feeding and strengthening your mind with hope and positivity.  Every day you must go to battle against the negativity that creeps into your mind that ends up creating fear, worry, doubt and despair.  FEED and STRENGTHEN your mind with prayer and meditation, listen to podcasts of your favorite inspiring teachers, listen to upbeat music, read inspirational stories, watch movies with themes of hope and redemption.  Some of the recent actions I’ve been taking to deal with the difficulties I face:  I say a morning prayer to center myself on what’s important and to express gratefulness for being alive another day; I listen to one or two podcasts every day of Tony Robbins or The Savvy Psychologist.  I watched two great movies recently that continue to inspire me…Western Stars with Bruce Springsteen, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood with Tom Hanks playing Mr. Rogers.  I intentionally say positive things to my husband and children every day to express appreciation of them.
  2. Take care of your physical self.  Exercise, Nutrition, Sleep!  Exercise, Nutrition, Sleep!  Exercise, Nutrition Sleep!  You know what to do, DO IT!  I am 50 years old, I have exercised continuously since I was 14 years of age.  Luckily I was chubby at that age, and I hated it!  Now I am sooo thankful that I encountered that problem early in life because I developed the habit of exercising back then and have never stopped.  As I cross the halfway point of my life (I plan to live to 100!), I see how beneficial exercising has been for me.  Over half of my peers are overweight and look 10 years older than me.  It matters!  And how you look affects how you feel about yourself, and it affects your outlook on life.  For lasting change to occur, you must attend to your physical health!
  3. Find a role model for what you want.  In order to accomplish a goal, you must have a vision of what that goal is.  Find someone who is doing what you want to do and find out how and what they are doing. Talk to them, study them, ask questions, do everything you can to determine what it is you want.  You need to have the end goal in mind in order to get there!
  4. Develop a plan.  Write out your plan of how you are going to reach your goal or develop lasting change.  You must have a road map that will lead you to your destination.  Make it specific, set up a time line, and have check points along the way to measure your progress.

And finally,

  •  Gratitude.  Be thankful and appreciative every day, several times a day.  Find all the beautiful things in your life and give thanks!  Be thankful that you woke up to live another day, be thankful for those who are in your home and in your workplace, be thankful for the beautiful world we live in.  An extremely fulfilling act of gratitude is to give of yourself to another…make a meal for a sick or elderly neighbor, smile and ask the grocery clerk how their day is going, pick up the garbage you walk by on the street, pay for someone’s coffee, leave the quarter in the Aldi grocery cart for the next customer…I promise when you give of yourself, you will feel more positivity, and the positivity will help change your beliefs, which will lead to you making lasting change!