In order to make changes in our lives, we have to be aware of what we’re doing that isn’t working or how we’re reacting to the present, using our past experiences as a guideline. Often, we interpret what’s happening in the present through past experiences. If our lives aren’t working and we deal with the present situation the same as we did with the past, nothing will change. Even if it worked in the past, that solution may be totally inappropriate now.
We can resolve to make changes in our lives, but saying is much easier than doing. The usual approach is to spend too much time and energy going over our past failures, reviewing our past excuses, and analyzing our what ifs, “What if I’d,”… “if I’d only,”…”If I’d said”… After dwelling on the negativity of our experiences for awhile, we usually fall into the “poor me” trap and spend more of our energies on being depressed about things that we can’t do anything about. We can learn from the past but we can’t change it. Focusing on past personal failures sets us up for repeat performances in the present and future. What we dwell on is what we get. On the other hand, if we use the same amount of energy and devote it to concentrating on positives, we can change where our lives are headed. It doesn’t take any more time or energy to dwell on positives than it does on negatives. Positive thoughts lower stress levels, negative thoughts raise them.
Some of us can plan and execute our course entirely in our minds and others can’t. The secret to success is to be truthful with ourselves. If planning and executing our plan completely in our minds doesn’t and hasn’t worked, we need to make a personal map of where we want to go and what we want to achieve. Little changes, one at a time, are easier to accomplish and stick to than massive makeovers. The largest majority of people who want to change, do it too fast and expect too much, too soon. Making changes in our lives is no different than starting an exercise program to improve our physical health. Going from zero exercise to multiple hours and mega workouts per week usually ends up in total burnout. In either case, expecting too much too soon will almost always prove ineffective.
Take an inventory of where you are at this point in time. Next, write down where you want to go. Setting an exact time schedule for when you want to get to your chosen destination can be too intimidating, so make the final destination date somewhat flexible, but not unclear and totally open ended. You have to have some destination time, like next fall, but making it too strict isn’t the answer. You don’t want your whole plan to go astray if something unavoidable comes up and puts you off your September fifteenth deadline.
Draw up a positive plan with nothing negative that can lead you astray. Don’t allow outside influences to interfere with your focus, stick to your plan and stay positive. Write everything down that you’ve accomplished and do this on a daily basis. That way, when things seem overwhelming or you perceive that you haven’t gotten anywhere, you can go back and look at where you started, how far you’ve come and how much closer you are to your final goals.
Diet and exercise are not the only ingredients in a life changing formula. We have to mix in mental, emotional and spiritual aspects as well. We can pump iron and eat all the right foods, but if we continue the stinkin’ thinkin’ from your past, nothing in the present or future will change. Men seem to have a harder time at mixing all the ingredients together than women. We men seem to believe we can bull our way through, and if that doesn’t work, we’ll do the same thing again.
Most of us, men and women alike, spend the majority of our lives reliving the past or projecting into the future. We drive to work mulling over what happened before we left home or how we’re going to deal, today, tomorrow or sometime in the future, with the situation that happened yesterday. Even if our thoughts are on a pleasant experience from the past, or one we think will happen in the future, we’re not in the present and that can cause problems. Sometime, when you’re driving and there are no other cars around, have someone time how far you travel in five seconds at sixty miles per hour. You’ll be amazed, so be in the present.
Dwelling in the past or projecting into the future raises stress levels. We can learn from the past and planning for the future can help us attain our goals. But, multitasking with past and future overlays in our present moment adds to our already over stressed lives and can be dangerous, especially in situations like driving where split seconds can make a difference and we’ve lulled ourselves into believing we’re in complete control.