30 Days to a New You

30 Days to a New You

If you could wave your magic wand and “poof” something in or out of existence in your life, what would it be? No, I’m not talking about a husband, teenager, or mother-in-law! I’m talking about a behavior; a good habit or a bad one. The first thought that comes to mind is probably a pet peeve, like, “I wish my husband would be more (fill in the blank)” or “I wish my child wouldn’t _____.” Maybe if you’re an introspective soul, you wish you could change something about yourself.

Well, that’s exactly what this post is about; changing yourself. None of us can change another person, certainly not directly. We might like to think we can, but any “control” we exert over someone else is merely an illusion. We can temporarily affect a spouse’s or child’s behavior, but change—as in real change—is internal. To be genuine it must be generated from the inside out.

For example, if you always seem to be butting heads with someone (a spouse, child, co-worker, or boss) change your own behavior and chances are theirs will change too. It takes at least two people to play tug-of-war. If you refuse to pick up your end of the rope, the other person is left standing there with a piece of limp rope in his hands. If he tries tugging on it, it will only result in him falling down.

Tug of Rope

Pick one thing you’d like to change about yourself. Do you yell too much? Swear? Smoke? Criticize? Is your house a mess? Do you have 14 unfinished projects? Do you wish you talked to your parents more? Do you dream about being thinner? Whatever it is, you can make progress by taking one step at a time, one day at a time.

Let’s say you find yourself being too critical of others. You know you are, you hate it, but it seems like every time you open your mouth something negative pops out. What can you do? It’s very difficult to change overnight, so it’s important to start with realistic expectations.

First off, nature abhors a vacuum. One of the challenges people often face is that they try to go cold-turkey with their bad habit, but fail to replace it with a good one. Try this: Instead of just cutting out snacking altogether, try replacing that handful of potato chips with an apple. Or if being critical of others is your downfall, if you try to cut out all negative talk without replacing it with uplifting talk, you’ll get nowhere fast because old habits die hard. You’ll find yourself continuing to criticize others and then mentally beat yourself up for failing.

The trick is to crowd out the bad with good. Start looking for positive things to say to your loved ones:

“Hey, I appreciate you taking out the trash today!”

“Good job on wiping down the counters!”

“I like the outfit you picked out to wear.”

“Thank you for doing your homework without complaining.”

“I know I don’t say this often, but I have a lot of respect for you going to work everyday whether you feel like it or not.”

If you’re not used to talking like this it will probably feel really awkward at first, maybe even artificial. Just fake it till you make it. Your family might even poke fun at you or be suspicious of your motives, but “try it till they buy it.” I’m not advocating being disingenuous; if you sincerely want to change it takes practicing the traits you want to develop. Just keep plugging along, day by day, and soon enough (30 days or less) your praise and gratitude for others will start coming naturally.

What do you want to change about yourself? How will you plan to do it? Share your progress!

12 Comments

  1. What a great post! You are absolutely correct about not changing others. There are lots of things I would like to change, but you raise a critical step in that it’s about replacement and small steps, not necessarily going cold turkey.

    1. Author

      Hi Annett! It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and give up when we try to implement big changes all at once. Thanks for your comment!

  2. The list of change I’d like to see in myself is ongoing…however procrastination is a biggie for me, and something I am now working on. One of the things that has helped me in the past when I wanted to start exercising on a regular basis was to establish a “no excuse” policy for myself. I made a vow to exercise for 30 days straight no matter what. I did so regardless of how I felt or what obstacles tried to get in my way. What that did for me was get my mindset where it needed to be so that now exercising is a habit.

    1. Author

      Stacey, your comment is really inspirational to me. It’s rather ironic that we give 100% commitment to others, but not to ourselves (not in a selfish way). If we have to work, we go everyday, “no excuse,” whether we feel like it or not. If we volunteer to be a parent helper at school, we show up no matter what. Yet, we blow off our own personal goals as if they are not really important or valuable. Congratulations on your exercise commitment! That takes effort and tenacity. I admire that 🙂

  3. This is inspirational. Many things came to mind to start with that are all on my dream or bucket list. These are things that I need to change personally for the better. Thanks for giving me another nudge to start on the list and work on them one by one until I can cross them off 🙂
    Kathie recently posted…Business Brings us InnovationMy Profile

    1. Author

      Kathie, I’m glad today’s post was helpful to you. Thank you for your encouraging words. Please come back and share how you’ve succeeded after crossing a few things off your list!

  4. Hi Tracy,

    I really enjoyed this post, I have a little saying myself that is very much related to changing yourself and that is to ask yourself “What is the one thing that if I started doing on a consistent basis could make a significant positive impact on my life.” I usually write these things down otherwise you will forget, taking it one day at a time is the best to change a habit.

    Regards,

    -Jason

  5. Hi Tracy,

    Great information on changing your life you have here. I have a little saying myself that is related to this and it is to ask myself “What is the one thing that if I started doing on a consistent basis would have a significant positive impact on my life.” I write it down and focus day to day on trying to implement this change until it becomes a habit.

    Great Post!

    -Jason

    1. Author

      Jason, thanks for your encouragement. I like what you said about writing things down. It seems like once something is “in print” it’s more likely to really happen!

  6. This is a great post, and I love your analogy about the rope. I’ve also noticed that change is permanent when you start with yourself, not with others.

    1. Author

      Hi Barbara! What you said is true about permanent change. Change is also more likely to be permanent if it is done slowly and methodically. I think that’s one reason why New Year’s resolutions don’t stick; too much, too fast, too overwhelming!

  7. Realizing that I am Gluten Sensitive almost 2 years ago my life has been in constant change! Taking little steps, experimenting with what works and sticking to it has allowed me to live a gluten free lifestyle and the result for my health is amazing now! Change begins in the mind! Thinking is the first step to any successful change. Thanks for the reminder. Best Regards, Wendy
    Wendy Bottrell recently posted…Remove Gluten Dairy and Sugar in 21 DaysMy Profile

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