People often ask me why my VIP personal coaching sessions are designed to last for three months. For many, it seems like an awfully long time to work on a single issue. After all, it only takes three weeks for a behavior to become a habit, right? Isn’t three months overkill?
The truth is, making positive lifestyle changes is not easy. If it were, we would all be functioning at an optimal level and experiencing highly satisfying and fulfilling lives. Unfortunately, that is not case for many of us. There are things we don’t like about ourselves or our lifestyles. At the very least we have things we think could definitely use improvement. One of the neat parts about being human is that as a rule, we tend to look for ways to make things better. The only problem is that when we try to do that, we often find it is more difficult than we expected.
Studies show that it takes ninety days before a lifestyle change can be considered a permanent part of a person’s behavior. Coincidentally, the human body renews itself at a cellular level on average every ninety days. Some parts take less, some take more, but in general our bodies are turning over at a cellular level every three months. Perhaps it is a case of not being able to teach old cells new tricks, but more about training new cells to accept new behaviors as they form.
At any rate, if you can make a lifestyle change stick for ninety days, chances are you will have achieved the goal and the change you were looking to create. It’s a great feeling, but many of us never quite make it all the way there. Why? Because changing behavior is one of the most challenging things a person can do.
If you are looking to make a change in your life, the first thing you need to do is give yourself time. Change does not happen overnight, and especially in today’s sound bite driven world, we change course if we don’t see results in the first thirty minutes. Seriously, most of us are over-scheduled and overwhelmed and just too impatient to let new behavioral patterns become part of our brain’s neural makeup.
Another reason we fail to create successful lifestyle changes is that we don’t give ourselves the time to picture all the ways our lives would be better when we make that change. We can vow to lose weight, but without a clear emotional vision of how our lives will be changed for the better, it is unlikely that we will hit that number. We may start to make a change for logical reasons, such as losing weight for improved mobility, but our emotional reasons have the most power to keep up moving forward. We can talk all we want about the importance of being able to walk as a motivating force, but it can’t hold a candle to the mental image of being able to laugh while pushing your child on a merry-go-round in the park.
One way to make sure you look at all the ways your decision might improve your life is with an acting exercise. In improvisational theatre, it is often called the “Yes, and…” game. Simply put, imagine a situation or change you want to create and think about a way that it will make your life better. Acknowledge that with a yes, then think of way that positive change could affect another aspect of your life. Thus the “and” part of the game. Lather, rinse, repeat. Once you start, you may find your original reason for wanting to change has many more benefits than you originally assumed.
Another way to enhance this game is to play it with a support network. Playing with a friend or a group of trusted friends can act as a brainstorming session, creating more and stronger reasons for pursuing your goal than you could imagine. It may sound simple, but it is an incredibly powerful tool.
Once you are ready to improve your life, don’t sabotage yourself by spending more time deciding on process of making change than you do on creating the vision of how your life will improve once that change occurs. When people try to make a change on their own, they often spend much more time on the how than the why of the whole deal. The process is important, but there must be a heartfelt inspiration in order to succeed.
Remember, it is much easier to deal with all the inconvenience and difficulties of travel if you are truly excited about your destination.
Ready to make that change stick? Connect with me for a free consultation to see how we can work together to make your dream a lasting part of your life.