Do you have things in your life that you want to change? Habits that don’t serve you well?
Welcome to the club of humanity!
We all face daily struggles and these can cause inner turmoil. You know that there are things that you want to change, but you find the process of change next to impossible. Why is this so?
There are many reasons that I could get into. I could talk about habits and the neural connections in our brains. I could also focus on environment and how preparing your environment in advance can help set you up for success. Both of these things play a part in the ease or difficulty of change, and there are many others as well. But in this post I want to focus on this – you don’t know yourself and consequently, you don’t even know what you want. Or maybe if you do, you have never really thought about your reasons for wanting it.
The who, what, and why factors.
Who am I?
This could go really deep. And we all should go to this place. But let’s start small. What are your values? By values I mean what is important to you? Your values play an important part in shaping who you are but perhaps you haven’t even taken the time to articulate what they really are.
Why is this important?
Let’s use the following example. You say that you want to lose weight. You make some progress and then stall. You take some time to examine your diet, past and present, and realize that in the past when you have tried to lose weight, eating dairy has stalled your efforts. You decide that this might be your current problem. However, upon reflection, you realize that you are experiencing major resistance to giving up dairy as you are tired of depriving yourself and just can’t find the motivation to do it once again. You are sick of yo-yo dieting and want to find a way of eating that will work for you for life.
You are having a conflict of values.
You value being a certain weight but you also value enjoying your food and you find that the pleasure factor plummets when you can’t have dairy. You also value your health but there is so much contradictory information out there that you’re not convinced that giving up dairy will improve your health. You are experiencing ambivalence.
ambivalence – the state of mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.
Knowing your values can help you make this decision with your eyes wide open and know why you are making it so that you feel good about it.
How do I know my values?
To get you started I’m including a free values assessment link at the end of this blogpost. You may also think add additional values by thinking through and journaling about what is important to you and why it is important. Then whatever choice you are facing, you can make an informed decision about how it aligns with your values and move on with your life, guilt free.
Another part of better knowing yourself involves knowing your strengths, or what you’re good at.
Why is this important?
If you have done the values assessment and taken the time to think through any additional values that come to mind, you may make a decision on what it is that you would like to change. It would be great if once you made this decision it was smooth sailing from here on out. The truth is, you will face friction at some point in the change process.
How will I deal with friction?
Your vision (how you envision your life to be in the future), as well as your values, will help you keep your eyes on the prize, but you will need to have something to draw on to help you through the hard times. Becoming aware of your strengths and thinking through how you have used these in similar situations in the past will help you face any new challenges in the future.
Going back to our example from above, let’s say you decide giving up dairy IS worth it for you. You make the decision and things are going great for you until someone orders pizza at work. Now what? You revisit your vision and values in your mind, but how do you hold your resolve? Maybe humor is your top strength and you decide to imagine a humorous situation around the pizza that makes you realize the absurdity of it all. Maybe it’s gratitude and you take the time to think about the food that you have already eaten or have brought with you to eat, and you take a moment to feel grateful for the abundance of food and the fact that you even have a choice. You pause and intentionally draw on all of these internal resources to help you make the best decision for you in this circumstance. Whatever that ends up being in the moment, it is done with intention and awareness of the tools you have to draw on now, and remembering how they have helped you in the past.
How do I find my strengths?
There are different ways to do this but a good place to start is by taking an assessment. I have included a free resource below. You can also ask yourself these questions – “What do others say that I’m good at? What comes naturally to me? What internal resources have I drawn on in the past when faced with difficult situations?
Strengths and values are positive things that we can focus on, but eventually our Saboteurs come to visit.
What are my saboteurs?
Saboteurs are the negative thought habits and patterns that live deep in your unconscious and derail your performance and happiness. They are those pesky voices in your head that hold you back. According to Shirzad Chamine, founder of Positive Intelligence, they are at war within you, with your wise, true self, the Sage. According to Chamine, we have ten Saboteurs and five Sage powers.
The first step in dealing with your Saboteurs is to know which ones affect you the most. Luckily, there is an assessment that can help you with this (linked at the bottom of this post).
Once you take this assessment, you will receive your own personal report as well as a week of daily explanations and tips for dealing with these Saboteurs and how to draw on your Sage Powers.
I know you probably think that you are unique. You are right! However, there are certain traits that are common and allow for some generalizations. These can be so helpful in solidifying your strengths. There are many good assessments to measure this, but the one that I am most familiar with is the Enneagram. I like this one, because it also shows your shadow. The Enneagram divides personalities into nine types. It’s much more complex than this, but it gives you a starting point (and helps me as well, if I am your coach!).
I have included an assessment below. This will give you a pie chart of the nine types free of charge. This site also offers an explanation of each type. Sometimes deeper exploration is needed to narrow your type, but this is a great place to start your exploration.
For further exploration, this site also offers an assessment for the Myers and Briggs’ 16 Types.
Knowing your personality type can help you better align your strategy when looking to make a change.
Why do I want it?
Now that you have a deeper understanding of yourself, your values, strengths, saboteurs, and personality, you know the who part of the equation (who you are), as well as the why (your values), and perhaps you have already come up with what it is you want to change. In closing, I would like to briefly put a little more emphasis on the why piece of the puzzle.
Let’s go back to the example of giving up cheese. You have decided that the value of feeling a certain way in your body is worth giving up cheese and you have your strengths to draw on when facing friction, as well as recognizing and calling out your Saboteurs. You are armed with your Sage Powers as well. All of this sets the stage to move towards those small successes that you long for and that will build on each other. But one thing I have found to be very helpful is to ask myself the “why” question every time I’m doing the new habit. Now that I have worked through the why (my vision and values), I can remind myself of it each and every time that I do it.
Notice in the above paragraph I mentioned small successes… that needs a deeper dive and will have to wait for another post! But to give you a heads up, remember to start small and let those small successes build on each other. If you need help with these, a health coach is a great way to move in that direction! I hope to hear from you with any questions or to partner with you on your journey!
Myers and Briggs’ 16 Types