So You Want to Make a Change
Many times we want to make a major change in our lives. Sometimes we are successful, but lots of times we are not. How we can make changes and have them be permanent has become clearer because we have a better idea of how the brain actually works. If you want to change and you want it to be permanent, then there are some things that you have to do.
Most of what we do is programmed in our brain along a pathway; so for example when you get up in the morning you don’t have to think of each thing that you will do. Your brain has figured out a sequence of events and has hard wired that sequence so it becomes a habit that you don’t have to think too much about. These pathways are more efficient then you taking time and effort to decide what you want to do each morning. But the more that habit is ingrained, then the more difficult it is to change.
So if on 1st January you want to start exercising in the morning before going to work, this is a major change to your morning habits. The first thing you can do so that you will be successful in changing your morning routine is to give your brain some idea of what you want to achieve. You have to set an intention: I want to exercise 6 days a week for at least half an hour and I want to become stronger especially in the core.
Ok that is pretty clear; you’ve set this goal. It is measureable; you will know if you reach it. But changing a very strong pathway used for many years is not easy nor fast. It takes concerted, sustained and consistent effort. You have to reinforce this intention often because a new pathway grows very slowly. You will have to get up and exercise for at least 6 months before this is a permanent change that the brain has hardwired into a new pathway. The more you think about this intention the stronger the pathway. So how do we reinforce your intention? There are many ways to keep this new intention in your awareness:
- a) Vision boards – pictures of what you want to achieve. This keeps the intention in your consciousness especially if you are a visual learner. The brain is not trying to defeat your intention but it is trying to be as efficient as possible and only use energy to build new pathways that are truly needed. So the more you think about your intention, the stronger the message to your brain.
- B) Setting short and long term goals with measureable outcomes (so you just can’t say I want to exercise more – you have to say how many times a week, for how many minutes, and what you hope to achieve so you and your brain will know if you are making progress with this change). Again, consistency is necessary to trigger new pathway development.
- C) Visualisation: Visualise what you want to look like, what it would feel like if you reach your goals. Visualise in great detail; where are you when you have achieved your goal, what do you have on, what is the temperature and what is the weather, how do you feel having met these goals, what can you do now that you couldn’t do before and anything else that makes this very real to you. With this kind of detail the brain can start to make the connections in the brain that will bring this visualisation to realisation. The brain does not make distinctions between what the senses bring in and what you mind and/or your will visualise; both are valid to the mind. Take time to visualise your outcome often.
Maintaining awareness of your intention as well as actually making the change daily will result in the brain making pathways to meet this intention. You want to make the new pathway as strong as possible, so you want to concentrate on it at least once a day. And you have to put into effect what you want to achieve. Just thinking about exercising is not enough; you also have to meet your goals. What will happen in six months is the brain will have incorporated this new change into your morning routine and you will exercise in the morning just like you brush your teeth. It’s become a habit.
If you would like a free audio recording guiding you through the visualisation process, please go my website www.yogalightness.com.au and contact me.