Change is hard. You’ve probably noticed that. We all want to become better people—whether it’s to be healthier, stronger, more creative, more skillful in our work, or a better friend or family member. So why do some people make lasting change and others stay stuck?
In the past I struggled with making new habits stick. When starting something new, my motivation would be high in the beginning and then it would wane, and I would fall back into old patterns. Over the years of having been coached, and then coaching people to adapt better habits and achieve their wellness goals, I began to see patterns in those who were successful and those who weren’t.
Here is what I have learned about what separates people who make lasting change from those who don’t.
1 They set intentions based on their values.
Your personal values are your core beliefs and guiding principles. They shape your interests and passions and when you set value-based goals you are more likely to achieve them. Some examples of values include learning new things, making meaningful relationships, having adventure, service, collaboration, creativity, kindness, spending time in nature, serenity, to name a few. Aligning your intention to your values is a powerful and effective tool for growth.
2 They bounce back quickly from set backs.
People who make lasting change show resilience. Resilience is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as planned. Resilient people don’t dwell on set backs; they are willing to make mistakes, coarse correct and then move forward. Progress, no matter how small, is more important than perfection.
3 They have good systems.
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits says, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” For most of us we learned the path to the outcomes we desire starts by setting a specific and actionable goal. But why do some people with the same goals have success and other don’t. Having a clear intention is only part of the equation. The goal sets the direction but the system is what gets us there.
In his book James Clear gives this example:
Consider someone training for a half-marathon. Many runners work hard for months, but as soon as they cross the finish line, they stop training. The race is no longer there to motivate them. When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it? This is why many people find themselves reverting to their old habits after accomplishing a goal.
The purpose of building systems is to automate a habit not just reach a goal. In the above example, the aim is not to run a half-marathon it’s to become a runner. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of continuous small improvements that leads you to who you desire to become next.
Our daily lives are filled with a series of habits. Almost every habit that you have — good or bad — is the result of many small decisions you make over time. To create the lasting change you desire, align your intentions with your values, work on building resilience and focus on your systems rather than outcomes.
Wishing Vibrant Living