“Crap! I did it again,”
“I can’t believe I’ve slipped back into doing what I always do,”
“I made some progress, but now I’m back where I started!”
“I give up.”

We’ve all been there before; we’ve all hit spots in our lives where we let ourselves down. We’ve all had moments when we were on the right track, but we found ourselves falling down, and pretty soon it was like we never tried changing in the first place.

Change is hard. Change is gritty, difficult, and sometimes arduously long. I’ve seen people try and try and try until something finally cracks, and they end up where they started. It happens often and it has happened to me, but it doesn’t have to be like this. You have the potential to change your life, to be free from things that are holding you back. You can step forward despite it being difficult, and move forward in your life.

I know this is much easier said than done. I could write for days about your potential, and I have a few small points that could really help you unlock some of your potential in changing your habits.

1.    Seek Support

For many of us, we fail in our attempts to change because we strive and strain and stretch for change on our own. Sometimes we make the process of change way more difficult than it needs to be. We strive and strain to lift loads that are very taxing, and what was easy at first is eventually too heavy to lift.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Our lives are filled with family and friends who, if we asked, would love to support us. There is also professional support that you can turn to for emotional and practical help. Hope Movement exists to link you with services that can help you change. If you’re working towards behavioural change, seeking some support could help you move forward and unlock some of your hidden potential. 

2.    See the process as a process

More often than not, changing behaviours in our life isn’t just a result of one decision. Most of the time when we decide to change, what follows is a long road of ups and downs. When we hit a roadblock and have a relapse, every part of us wants to throw in the towel and go back to the way things were before we started. When we stuff up and fall down, we see it as the end of our attempt at change. It’s like when we make a New Years resolution to go to the gym, we go every day for the first 2 weeks, until we reach a cold Sunday morning and decide that we’ll just go the next day. When the next day comes, we realise we’ve broken our streak and think that we might as well just give up.

This same routine works for just about any addiction or unwanted behavior we try to avoid, and once we go through it  and see it all as a waste, we are done with trying. Relapse does not mean failure; relapse is not the end of our efforts. A relapse is a bump in the road towards progress.

Our eventual destination is entirely dependent on how we see a relapse. Relapses and small difficulties will come, and no matter how strong you are, there will be times when, as a human, you just don’t hit the mark. But as you keep getting back on the horse you will grow your capacity to change, and you will start to learn new behaviors, make new habits, and fall down less.

If you’re in a place of giving up right now, I challenge and encourage you to get back on the horse and see if you can go just a little bit further this time before you fall down again. You never know, you might surprise yourself with what kind of result you get.

3.    Believe in yourself

Sounds kind of corny, doesn’t it? Believe in yourself. I can almost hear the R Kelly song “I Believe I Can Fly” coming on in the background. But in all honesty, if you don’t believe you can change, you won’t even start. People of all walks of life, from all cultures, from all types of families, from all suburbs, with all types of diagnoses, have the ability to change. Today is the time to start believing in your ability to change, looking at your strengths and how you can use them instead of your weaknesses and how they limit you.

4.    Set small goals

This one is crucial, as so many times we set huge goals like, “I won’t eat fast food for the next 10 years,” and we get a few months in and feel like we’re nowhere near our goal. If we set a goal that was more reachable like, “I won’t eat fast food for 2 months,” then we actually get the chance to celebrate our achievement.

After we celebrate, we can set another goal a little bit bigger and a little bit tougher, because we start to see a little of our potential. If we’re constantly setting goals that are too big, we will always be in a place of disappointment and this erodes our confidence and resolve. But if we set smaller goals, we will have moments of pride and joy. These times increase our ability to change and help us to reach the next goal we may set.

Change is tough. Roadblocks will come, but if you stick with it through the tough times and celebrate the good times, you have the potential to change that behaviour or thing that holds you back. Get support from the people around you, get back up on the horse when you fall down, believe in yourself, and set small goals, and you will be equipped to make changes in your own life so you can be a happier, healthier human being.

Love your journey. It may be a tough one, but you’ll be stronger after you walk it.