You’ve heard the stories before:
A man doesn’t stop drinking until he loses everything.
A woman finally loses weight when she has a severe health crisis.
A near-death experience causes a person to start appreciating life.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Most people need a wakeup call to initiate change in their lives. What’s even more interesting is that we often need *repeated* calls to continue living our best lives.
Take the example of the woman who has a health crisis and needs to lose weight. She is spurred to action and drops 50 pounds, which makes her feel better. But because she did it as a response to a negative situation, she relaxes as soon as the health crisis passes. And then she gains some or all of the weight back.
Not everyone keeps repeating the same exact situation, but we often follow the same patterns. Just today someone reminded me that throughout life we “keep meeting ourselves” until we make lasting changes.
How do you make lasting change?
This is a tricky one. We all think our changes are going to be lasting right up until they aren’t. I recently wrote about my lack of success in giving up caffeine for good. If I felt so good, slept better, and had lower blood pressure, why did I go back to drinking coffee and Diet Coke?
Even now, after publicly admitting my failure, I’m struggling to get back on track.
Does this ever happen to you?
Lasting change comes about when you recognize there is more pain than pleasure in an activity or situation.
I read something last week that really hit home. The key to sticking with positive change is not really your planning, good intentions, or even the support of people around you.
What really makes a difference is one simple activity: raising your standards.
Think about what your life would look like if you raised your standards in the areas that are currently lacking. You’d exercise on a regular basis, develop healthy relationships with other people, and work in a job you love with enough time to pursue your favorite hobbies and spend time with your family and friends.
Is that the life you’re living? I know I’m not. Not fully, anyway.
So today I begin anew in my fight against caffeine. Instead of looking at it as a deprivation, I’m going to look at my life and say that I’m raising my standards when it comes to my health. And those standards do not include caffeine.
After all, if we raised our standards enough to remake our entire lives to travel the world, it should be a piece of cake to give up caffeine. (Did I just say cake? I love cake. I wish I had some cake right now. Hmmm, maybe food is another standard I need to address.)
How have you made lasting change in your life? Please let me know in the comments.