How to Change Your Life

How to Change Your Life

This is final article from the Follow Your Yellow Brick Road Seriesa five-part series about living a meaningful life.

Everybody wants to be happy, but nobody wants to change.

This is a phrase my Dad has said to me many times. I agree. Mostly because I often want things to be different and I’d really like it to happen while I lie in bed and watch the latest episode of Outlander.

There are hoards of unhappy people on the internet, reading inspirational quotes and fluffy blog posts about being grateful, and looking at pictures of sunsets, and leaves, and water droplets. Reading about ways to feel better makes us feel as though we are doing something to improve our lives.

But nothing will change your life until you change your behaviour.

There are all sorts of ideas about how to go about changing behaviour. Some people believe we need to change our thoughts or our emotions before we can change our lives, but I say, why waste time fighting with the middle man? Why not just jump straight into actually doing something meaningful?

Today’s activity is simple because it’s generally pretty easy to come up with ideas about how to instigate change. The hard part is executing change.

If you haven’t already, you might quite like to go back and do some of the previous exercises in this series. If you’re all about the bare minimum you can safely get away with only completing parts III and IV.

HOW TO FOLLOW YOUR YELLOW BRICK ROAD (15 minutes) 1

1. CHOOSE

Looking at your list from Part IV where you measured your success, in which areas of your life are you least successful?

Which areas show the biggest discrepancy between importance and consistency? Choose one area.

2. SUMMARISE

What are your most important values in that area? If you’ve been following along, you will have written this down during Part III.

3. LIST

Make a list of things you could do that would be consistent with your values in that area. Go crazy with this. List anything that comes to mind, no matter how reasonable or unreasonable it may seem.

4. PLAN

Spend 5 minutes writing down the details of how you will go about living this value today, tomorrow, this week, and especially for situations where you think it will be particularly challenging to live the value.

Writing this plan is a goal-setting exercise. When you do this, don’t make a dead person’s goal. A dead-person’s goal is one that a dead person can do better than you. So for me, I don’t want to eat as many cakes as I have been. But if I make a goal to not eat cakes, a dead person can always do that better than me because they are dead and there are no cakes six feet under ground. A better goal for me is to make a goal of having one cake as a treat this week.

Oh, and make sure it’s achievable.

JUST DO IT

Nike chose their slogan for a reason. You can waste time with all manner of things to prepare yourself to make a change. When it comes down to it, change won’t happen unless you take action. If you’ve done the exercise above, I think you’re suitably prepared. Now it’s up to you to do something about it.

Lately (and by lately I mean for the past seven months), I’ve not been taking very good care of my health nutrition-wise. I keep eating cake.

And gingernut biscuits.

And fries.

And Whittaker’s Peanut Butter Chocolate.

It’s become an issue, and not just because I’ve gained 6kg. It’s just not healthy, and I’m in a danger zone in terms of my age. Everyone I’ve talked to says: when you hit age 27, things change, and you start piling on the fat in places that you never knew fat could go. One minute you’re a size 8, and 365 days of cake later you’re a walking health risk. That’s not a place I want to go.

I’ve spent some time working through this exercise. You can view my answers here. I’ll let you know how I get on over the next two weeks.

What’s your plan?

Image credits go to Dollar Photo Club.

Footnotes

  1. This exercise was inspired by The Art and Science of Valuing in Psychotherapy by Joanne Dahl, Jennifer Plumb, Ian Steward and Tobias Lundgren.

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