By Joyce Leung, 4th year ConEd/Psychology student
Whether that’s changing your habits, mindset, attitude, or relationship – it’s not always going to be an easy step over. One thing is for sure though, you’re never too old (or late) to change you or anything.
As a fourth year undergrad student looking back, I have changed a lot in my abilities, skills, and mindset. “Why?” When I entered university I decided that I wanted to improve, change, and learn, which is something I hope to always be doing. “How?” Namely through experience, putting myself out there, and being okay with trying and failing, but also with these ideas guiding my way.
#1. You must recognize that it won’t be a quick or effortless change… but that you still want to try
Tell yourself it’s going to be hard because it very likely will be and accept it because you are putting yourself in a place where it’s not in your realm of the usual or familiar. That is what you hope to break out of. Be ready for the challenge and difficulties, rather than thinking that it’ll be an easy, short process.
#2. You’re your own biggest critic but also… your biggest obstacle and supporter.
Once you’re okay and see that this will be outside your comfort zone know that it’s you who can come up with the excuses but also that you are the only one who can get this done. I learned that I truly am the only one who can change yourself. This is incredibly true if I think back to the times my mom nagged me to change my habits to when I personally put my words (not hers) into action finally. I did that because I wanted to change myself for myself. No one can make it happen, just you.
#3. Be real with yourself. Make a plan. And revise it until it works.
You know what you are like when you’re at your best and also at your lowest. Make a plan that will work with you and that will also get the work done. Create realistic milestone goals that suits your style that build up to your ultimate end goal, while it still pushing you. Write down what it will look and feel like if your plan is working so you have cues to look out for. Afterwards, write down all the things stopping you or that have stopped. That might be the difficulty in finding time in your busy schedule, which may be the reason you’ll stop. Or that you remembered the last time you tried this you gave up part way because it just wasn’t working out.
Once you’ve listed down the barriers and obstacles, dedicate realistic solutions that will help you overcome them. That may be devoting a page or a notebook to track your progress or designing a plan that only takes a few minutes a day to fix that time issue. Or writing down what you would tell a friend if they wanted to give up, or asking friends to help you with this mission.
Don’t forget or lose sight. Be aware and attentive to your plan. Celebrate the small victories because that is progress adding up! Count the small steps – don’t expect Rome to be built in a day! What do the results look like? If it isn’t working, what do I need to adjust? You will probably adjust your plan and that’s almost expected. You might need to take a break sometimes and that’s okay, but never stop trying because it will work eventually if you do.
#4. Easily said, hardly done but who’s counting? Who’s celebrating?
The answer’s YOU! In any case, remember you’re accountable and holding accountability is a great way to get things done. In my experience, if I don’t write my progress or experience down, I will forget about my plans to change altogether. Find your way of holding yourself accountable!
In addition, too often do we lose track of our goals much like those New Year’s resolutions you might have forgotten already. Just as likely, you’ve probably guilt tripped and cycled through that once you’d missed a step in your grand scheme to eradicate or lessen a habit or trait of yours. I’ve been there, and done that. At the end of the day though, I realized that I’m the one who can make this change but guilt tripping won’t add to this development. Accepting the setbacks is hard, but recognize that you are not your mistakes and disappointments and that you are also your successes and are important in the lives of your family and friends. What you can’t forget is that you can get back up on your feet and continue trying. I know you can! And you know that too.
If the blog here has caught your interest in changing, check out our resources here:
Book an appointment with our Learning Strategist to help with planning: http://sass.queensu.ca/learningstrategies/advisingappointments/
Look at our online resources spanning from Time Management to Motivation here: http://sass.queensu.ca/learningstrategies/topics/
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Photo courtesy of Adrian Scottow under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.