How would your life change if you practiced the art of possibility?
Creating behavioral or habit change is really the art of possibility. It’s creating and cultivating a new possibility in your life. This article was written for people who are looking to create long-term, sustainable changes in their lives.
I’ve broken it down into three parts: baby steps, consistency and patience. While this might seem pretty simple, it can also be incredibly challenging. However, armed with these tools the possibilities are endless as you create the masterpiece that is your life.
1. Start with Baby Steps
It’s easy to underestimate the power of the basics, but the basics are the fundamental building blocks that help to solidify an effective foundation. While it’s tempting to “go big or go home,” let’s take the alternative route and start with the smallest, easiest step that allow us to move toward our desired direction(s). Begin with “baby steps,” as this is truly where long-term effective change must begin.
Momentum is “the strength or force that allows something to continue or to grow stronger or faster as time passes.”
It’s easy to want to skip baby steps and fast forward to a behavior or habit that feels more exciting and fulfilling. This makes sense and is absolutely normal. However, if we take steps that are too big, too fast, it’s often difficult to maintain the changes.
Sustainable change doesn’t come from short, big bursts; rather, it’s something that continues to grow stronger or faster as time passes. Sustainable change comes from establishing momentum.
Why not change everything at once?
For example, if the goal is to lose 15 pounds, people often jump right into tackling too many things at once – cutting out certain foods, counting every calorie, working out six days a week and so on. While these are all great choices that could potentially lead to incredible change(s), it’s quite difficult to maintain all these behaviors for a long period of time when they’re pursued all at once.
We often “bite off more than we can chew.” (Pun totally intended.) This often results in people giving up before real change has been established.
Remember, the magic isn’t simply in being able to create a change, but to sustain it over a period of time so it becomes a new normal. If it’s too big of a step, chances are it will be too difficult to sustain the change.
How do I find the baby steps?
The best way to arrive at a baby step is to work backwards. Break down the ultimate goal into smaller and smaller steps. In the lose 15 pounds example, a great initial baby step might be eating veggies at one meal a day.
Once you have identified a possible baby step, ask yourself on a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to (in this example) add veggies into one meal a day?
If your answer isn’t a nine or a ten, then it may not be the right baby step for you. Keep in mind that there is no “right” baby step – this is more about you knowing yourself well enough to set yourself up for success.
Discovering that first step is awesome, but alone it isn’t enough to create sustainable change.
2. Nail Your Consistency
The real power lies in doing the baby step consistently. Consistency means nailing a baby step day after day, week after week. Think of it as practicing your baby step more often than not.
It’s consistency that creates a new normal, compliance in the application of the new behavior into your life. “Practice makes permanent!”
This is also why it’s important to practice a baby step that you are 90-100% sure you are going to nail. If you are nailing it, then you are consistently practicing that behavior, which slowly creates a new normal.
When you’ve practiced something – even a baby step – truly consistently, the desired outcome feels easy and attainable.
Don’t underestimate the power of easy. We are more likely to follow through with something if it’s easy. Change doesn’t always have to be hard!
Your first baby step should set you up for the next as they continue to build on each other until you reach your ultimate goal, behavior change, or habit.
In the example above, maybe the next baby step is veggies at two meals a day. Or, protein at one meal a day. Slowly you are creating changes in your food choices without overhauling your life – building blocks! You choose the “block” because it’s about the life you want to create.
3. Be Patient
The foundation of creating new habits and behaviors are baby steps done consistently that build on top of each other. However, this is predicated on the practice of patience.
Change doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time… a lot of it. Patience can be difficult as we live in a society of instant gratification and are used to getting what we want NOW. Sustainable change doesn’t exactly happen that way. When creating a new habit, you are teaching yourself a new way of operating.
As a little kid, you didn’t learn to walk in one day. It took numerous days of falling down, getting back up and (literal) baby steps before you were walking like a boss.
Similarly, you aren’t going to create sustainable change after one day. It’s going to take tons of practice and time. The chances of completely giving up are quite high if you are aren’t patient with yourself.
Patience is a choice, choosing to give yourself the time it takes to create a new way of thinking and doing through consistency. Patience is space, choosing to give yourself space to make mistakes, learn, and create something new. Patience is choosing possibility. If there is no patience, then there is no space for new possibilities.
What if I’m doing it wrong?
Like art, there is no “wrong way” to use these tools. Your life is your canvas to create whatever change you desire. When baby steps, consistency, and patience are practiced together, that is the art of infinite possibility. Use these tools to create a mother freaking masterpiece!
Possibility looks good on you, so what are you going to create?