The biggest barrier to self-improvement is self-control. To make changes in your life, such as sticking to a diet, quitting smoking, doing that thing you've been meaning to do for years, you must change. We are always meaning to change, but never quite able to make that leap. In most cases, we find ourselves always in the "planning" mode and never in the "doing" mode. The motivation and excitement to plan never seems to carry on to the follow-through. Why? Because the doing is hard. So, how do we overcome this and make the change? Here are a few tips to get you started:
Be honest with yourself about your limitations
One of the biggest problems we have when we plan a change is we are not being realistic. Sure, you want to be debt free, but are you being realistic about your budget? Are you really planning to never eat out again in order to make that payment? No, in fact, you are not. Are you planning to just set down those cigarettes and never have a craving ever again? That's not realistic. When you think like this, you are setting yourself up for failure. When you make your plan, know your limitations and plan on how to overcome those as well.
Baby steps are key
If you have any education in psychology you might recognize this phrase: shaping. In laymen's terms, shaping is developing a different behavior by way of completing small steps in small increments. For example, imagine you are trying to train a dog to jump through a flaming hoop. Wouldn't it be easier to teach him to jump through an unlit hoop first? Better yet, wouldn't it be easier to put the hoop on the ground and get him to walk through it first? It would be. Going back to a more relatable example: quitting smoking. The desired behavior is to not smoke, but quitting cold turkey is a bit extreme. An easier method would be to average how many cigarettes you smoke each day and then reduce that number by one. Maintain this level for a set time, then reduce again. While not too overwhelming, this is a small step toward the goal of quitting. You can apply this method to any goals you are planning to work toward. If you want a better outcome, develop baby steps when making your plan.
Slipping up isn't giving up
The good news is that change is possible. The bad news is that we are all human. We live in a world of temptation, and change is always difficult. When you are making a change, it is important to try hard because anything good in life takes effort. But if you do mess up, as all humans sometimes do, it's more important to forgive yourself, learn from what happened, and begin again. We learn from past mistakes, and hindsight is 20/20. So it's okay to make mistakes while perfecting your method. You must have insight into yourself to figure out what works and this can take some time. Don't give up! If you want to make a change, you already know it's worth it.