3 simple steps to changing your life

As you likely know, you can't get what you want without some effort. 

Lately, I've been thinking about the importance of action. I feel like so much attention is given to goal setting, dreaming bigger, consistency, and planning but the reality is without action none of it ends up giving us the results that we're looking for. I can have an amazing plan and even review it often but without action, I'm not going to get what I really want.  This applies to consistency as well. I was on a Faith Activated call the other day and a question that was asked was, “Do you have trouble with consistency?” of course a lot of people said yes. The coach  challenged that, saying basically, “You don't have a problem with consistency, you have a problem with consistently taking the action that's going to get you what you want.”

It really got me thinking about all of this. In many ways, I have thought of consistency as being the “magic” ingredient, but being inconsistent can also be a form of consistency. Unfortunately, it does not yield the desired results. Does that ring true for you, too?

Think about a particular bothersome or troubling area of your life, an area where you have seemed to have the same goals or desires for a long period of time.

Let's use weight loss or more exercise or better eating habits because those are things that many people can relate to. And let's say you wanted to improve in each of these, or at least one of these, areas. And it's still something that is not where you want it to be.

If you take a look, an honest look at it all, I believe that it's highly likely that there has not been consistent action. I know that's definitely the case for me. I know that I have a tendency to be rather all or nothing. I'm very focused on my health goals or I'm on autopilot. 

But I also know that a few little changes, if I stay focused on them, can lead to bigger changes. 

So here's an example: if my goal is to feel better and lose 30 pounds, then some realistic action steps are :

  • exercising daily for a certain amount of time 
  • aiming for a certain number of steps
  • being more intentional with my food choices. For some that may mean putting specific parameters on it. For others, it may be simply increasing the number of whole foods as compared to processed foods.  While “eating better” isn't clearly defined, when we really think about it, we all know what “better” kind of looks like. And taking steps towards better can lead to more positive actions. 

So maybe the next step is planning how this is going to play out.

  • We need to set ourselves up to win. If we are going to do those workouts, we can make it more likely by deciding when and where, having our shoes ready, and our workout clothes laid out. Doing these things helps to eliminate some of those excuses for not doing what we planned to do.
  • And maybe it would mean we menu plan and get rid of some of the junk food in our houses, and make sure we've got a supply of healthy foods. 

And these are all great things. 

But if we don't actually do the workouts and if we don't actually eat the healthier foods and avoid the junk it's unlikely that there's going to be much of a change. 

So we’ve planned and set ourselves up for success by laying out some action steps.

The key is once we get that action in place we then need to stay consistent with taking the appropriate actions.

So how can we do that? 

  1. The first step is knowing what it is you're trying to achieve. 
  2. The second, and I believe possibly the more important, step is why do you want to achieve that? Not just the surface reasons. Sticking with the weight loss example because it's an easy one, why do you want to lose weight, or if weight loss isn't your goal, why do you want to make healthier eating and exercise choices? Yes, to feel better and to live longer, but going deeper - what is your real motivation for that? I have a dear friend who had struggled with her weight and health issues that went along with it for many years but when she looked at what the same issues had done to her dad, she got very serious, very intentional, and took consistent action to take charge of her health and change her story. That has been a few years ago and she has remained consistent and maintained her results because she knew why. She knew exactly what she wanted and was determined to do the work to get there. And it hasn’t always been easy. There have been setbacks and more than a few times when it would have been easy for her to go back to her old ways.  But her why is clear, she has set herself up for success, and she continues to take the necessary action steps to maintain her results. 
  3. Once we know what we’re trying to achieve and why, we can go back to our action steps with more excitement and intention. We can put those simple things into action, and we can review our goals, plans, and why regularly, then tweak as we go. 

Now it's time for me to be brutally transparent and honestly, this makes me uncomfortable. Even though I feel like for the most part, I'm an open book. But I know that you may be feeling this way in an area or two of your life as well. 

Sometimes, certain things, even the things that we really want, just aren't a big enough priority at that particular season in our lives for us to take the actions necessary to achieve the changes we want.

I recently saw a quote from Mel Robbins that I've seen before that says, “Instead of ‘I don't have time’ try saying, ‘it’s not a priority’ and see how that feels.”

Now for some things that may be a huge reality check and a motivator for change. But in some other areas, it may be a way to help you give yourself a little bit of grace. We can't change everything all at once and trying to do so can lead to frustration. Now absolutely, we can use one good habit to build on another and make it easier, but there still are times when we can't fit everything in. So for me right now I am most focused on finishing out my nursing contract and working on a lot of different areas of my business. I am taking care of myself in terms of sleep and my stress levels. I am not always eating healthy - it kind of goes up and down I know that eating less processed stuff and more whole foods is something that would help me to feel better and more energetic, but that is an area that I am kind of just coasting along with right now. The same with my workouts. I know that they help me to clear my head and feel focused and energized, but my sleep, work, and travel schedule are all over the place, and I don’t fit them in every day. I do try to listen to my body and know that when I start getting more anxious, or more tired or irritable, I need to at least go for a walk - preferably in nature. I had started out the year training for a marathon. And then I realized that the timing for that was really bad, and I, as I often do, had taken on too much. So right now it is on the backburner. Not because I don't have time, because I could make time in my schedule if I really wanted to, but because I realized that yes, it's something I want to do.  

But it is not the biggest priority for me right now. 

I’m a “want to do everything” kind of person. So I have to continually remind myself that as much as I want to, I can't do everything, or at least not all at once. I have to decide what my priorities are for a certain season of life, and so do you. And keep in mind that we can change those priorities at any time.

So what is it that matters most to you, right now? 

What are your top three priorities?

Be honest with yourself about this -  don't just give the “right” or expected answers. God may be very important to you and be at the top of your list in terms of love and devotion and your family is likely right up there too. But when it comes to working on those particular areas, they may not be a top priority in your life right now. That doesn't mean that you're going to neglect your spiritual or family relationships - it may mean that they are in a very good place and you're able to just stay consistent with what you're doing. 

Once you know your priorities, what are you going to do in each of those areas? Take a bit of time to plan it out. But make sure that action is on the agenda as well. What specific actions are you going to take? And how can you set yourself up for success? Brainstorm some ideas.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Set timers to remind you of specific things
  • Put times in your calendar for exercise or menu planning
  • Involve family or coworkers
  • Make it fun - can you commit to doing something with a friend or accountability partner?
  • Reward yourself for your consistent action 
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Simple things like this are going to be one of the biggest focuses of my upcoming membership group that will provide accountability and community as we navigate life’s everyday challenges. Stay tuned for more info soon! And if you’re not a member of the free Becoming YOUR Best Community on Facebook, make sure to join here
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