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4 Ways to Overcome Barriers to Change and Make New Habits Stick

4 Ways to Overcome Barriers to Change and Make New Habits Stick

    Will 2012 be a year for change or will you keep doing what you have always done?

    “It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

    Albert Einstein

    Seems obvious, only an idiot would try to keep doing the same thing and expect different results, no? But the truth is I’m guilty of it, my friends are guilty, my family are guilty and I guess each one of you reading this is also guilty of the syndrome. If change were easy we would all be different, more successful, healthier, fitter, stronger, slimmer, more intelligent and definitely more accomplished. But we are not. And here’s the reasons why.

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    Change is difficult.

    Change is uncomfortable.

    Most human beings resist change. The familiar becomes a false sense of security even if it is a bad habit or a behavior that doesn’t serve us. Fear prevents us from moving forward. The “what if” syndrome hits us. What if I lose money? What if it’s the wrong decision? What if I can’t keep it up? I say sod all the negatives,

    Change is necessary,

    Change is good,

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    Change is exciting, it’s thrilling, it’s energizing.

    Life is ever changing, it’s dynamic, no two moments are ever the same. Our bodies are different one moment to the next, so why would we try to keep things the same? Why not embrace the difference, the different emotions, the different experiences that is life?

    Successful Change

    The route to successful change is in the habits we create, it’s achieved by consistent small changes which add up to desired results.

    “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

    Aristotle

    If we are what we repeatedly do, then creating habits of what we want in our lives in the only way to go. But how do we create habits that stick? Most of us will have a New Year’s Resolution or 22 that haven’t quite worked out the way we planned; there are a number of reasons why this can happen.

    1. Lack of planning

    If you want anything to work well it must have a POA (Plan of Action) You need to put some thought into What, When, Why and any other question word you can think of. If you want to create the habit of exercise then you must decide what exercise, what days and for how long before you put your gear on. Failing to plan is setting yourself up to fail.

    2. Trying too much too soon

    When starting a new habit, you need to start small and do it often. If you want to create a habit of writing, the trick is to do a little every day. If you are what you repeatedly do, some day you can become a writer.

    3. Focusing on the wrong thing

    Many people without realizing focus on the wrong thing. Every year I would set the goal to lose weight and every year I would fail. Last year I finally realized why it wasn’t working. I spent a lot of time focusing on my rounded belly and feeling negative about how my diet wasn’t working. One morning in the shower I had an epiphany. I spent my life telling people to focus on the positive and to focus on what they want and here I was spending my time focusing on my the parts of my body I didn’t like instead of focusing on the healthy, strong lean body I was busy creating. I have finally lost the weight.

    4. Lack of Self Belief

    “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

    Henry Ford probably didn’t realize how famous his quotation would become but he knew how true these words were. If you go to the trouble of setting a goal, do yourself a favor and believe in ability to achieve it. If your best friend told you they were going to change this year, this year was going to be different. This year they are going to stop doing what they have always done and do what needs to be done to achieve the changes that they want to achieve. Would you support your friend or would you doubt and discourage them with negative thoughts and words?

    Start being your own best friend start encouraging and believing in yourself. Nurture your attempts with positive supportive words and actions. You can do it this year. You will do it; you just have to believe and you are half way there.

    (Photo credit: Change Just Ahead Green Road Sign via Shutterstock)

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    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2020

    2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

    2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

    Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

    Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

    Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

    Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

    Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

    By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

    The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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    1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

    Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

    Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

    Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

    When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

    The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

    Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

    To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

    Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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    We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

    It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

    After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

    Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

    Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

    To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

    Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

    Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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    When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

    Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

    We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

    When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

    Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

    2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

    If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

    The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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    To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

    With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

    So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

    • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
    • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
    • Say no to all else.
    • Say no again.
    • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
    • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
    • Meditate.
    • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
    • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
    • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
    • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
    • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
    • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

    Final Thoughts

    These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

    Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

    More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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