During a recent discussion with a group of friends in which we were making plans and defining goals on which to work over the coming year, I was struck by one woman's comment. She mentioned that she wanted to 'do more yoga'.
Okay, not so profound by itself but she didn't stop there. She wanted to practice yoga more often, but right after saying so she paused and added, "what I really want is to want to want to practice yoga more often". The yoga idea was a good one conceptually, and she smiled as she thought of this for herself. But I noticed something else as well; I was acutely aware that, without even realizing it, she hit the nail on the head. An absolute bulls eye regarding the achievement of successful growth, change, and transformation.
Choosing the right goals, and creating a plan to achieve them, is a superficial attempt at creating a desired change
We all have goals that we'd like to accomplish - changes we'd like to incorporate - but choosing the right goals, and creating a plan to achieve them, is a superficial attempt at creating a desired change. It isn't where the problem lies. Sometimes, with a lot of determination, we can "force" a new behavior into existence, but more often than not, this doesn't result in success. Our intentions are good, and often fueled with passion, and our goal potentially provides improvement or gain. Yet often we start out taking the steps needed but the motivation soon dies; our efforts are distracted, and it just doesn't happen.
To change, or not to change...
As I listened to my friend share, further conversation revealed that she had a strong desire to bring more healthy habits into her life and yoga is a practice that appeals to her. I loved her moment of self-awareness, acknowledging that the true change she wanted was to have the internal motivation needed to start and maintain a change in her routine, but...how could she make this happen?
In my humble opinion the answer is simple - simple to describe, though challenging to implement. Once you have a goal or change defined, the focus or attention is not about doing something different, it is about creating a personal perspective where doing the changed behavior makes more sense than doing anything else - in a sense it is about being different. So I asked myself, how could my friend adjust her personal perspective such that practicing yoga regularly just made more sense than not doing it? Instead of making a change to do a yoga practice, how could she make a change to be someone with a yoga practice? This is a conversation I wanted to have.
I had lots of questions. I was curious about the choice of yoga, what is behind this idea? Does she like doing it? Does she have preconceived ideas about people that do yoga? What has she heard, what does she know? Is there something connected to the idea of yoga with which she wishes to identify? And what about the bigger picture? Is it about health? What is the intention? Does she wish to be more flexible? If so, why? Is there anything about herself with which she is disappointed? What image does she have of herself that she wants to change? And, why?
Answering these types of questions allows for the discovery of underlying beliefs; beliefs that make up a personal perspective. This perspective dictates how you make decisions and how you behave. Challenge the beliefs, examine them, take them apart and you will be surprised at what you can find. One possible scenario that I have witnessed many times has to do with the value that one puts on oneself; having a belief that the needs of others are more important and therefore self-care ends up taking a back seat.
In the case of my friend (we discovered together that), she doesn't put self-care as a priority - she tends to the needs of her family and work. Discovering this belief - this truth about herself - she decided to change her focus for the year. Her focus now, is not about practicing yoga, it is about making health and self-care a priority. By making this her focus she is beginning to adjust her internal perspective, one that produces a change in her behavior - not just about yoga but in many other areas such as nutrition and relaxation. The changed behavior just makes more sense because the priority for her health and well-being is now at the top of her list.
Sure, there may be times when getting to yoga class will require additional determination, but she will no longer be fighting against a debilitating belief. She can tap into a motivating determination about self-care and a new belief that health and well-being IS a priority. The overall change will be profound and (best of all), sustainable.
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