Our society’s solution to resolving problems or breaking unhealthy habits is to get into action to fix the problem… quickly. Our tendency to act quickly and think later sets the stage for the “ready, fire, aim” syndrome we see in the world. The action response has been a part of the behavior-change science field for many years. When you set goals and want to develop new habits, you are striving for behavior change and it seems like it would be natural to attempt behavior change as a first step in this process. However, the reason that the same lifestyle goals (losing weight and starting/ maintaining an exercise program) hit the top two on so many people’s New Year’s Resolution list year after year is because what seems natural (getting into action first) is not the answer.
If we want to truly achieve lasting change in any area of our lives, we MUST intentionally stop, be still, and reflect. The first step to lasting change is NOT to get into action. The first step involves reflection and assessment.
Ask deep questions.
Don’t be afraid to honestly ask yourself deep questions about…
- your existence
- your worth
- your emotions
- your thoughts
- your purpose
- your dreams
- your fears
Stop living according to the status quo and consider what changes you need to make to become more authentic and intentional in every aspect of your life.
This is a place where I spend a lot of time with my clients.
Over time, we tend to take on other people’s values, hopes and dreams instead of walking in our own. Does this sound familiar to you? One of the things it makes me think about is how when I was younger, all of my loved ones told me that I was a horrible cook because I had burned a few meals. This caused me to walk into my first marriage having my husband do all of the cooking. I didn’t even try anymore… we all just joked and laughed about what a horrible cook I was even though I hadn’t really cooked in years (and not at all as an adult).
Then, Craig and I got together and all of a sudden I was full-time caregiver to his five kids! I had to figure out this cooking thing quickly! At first, I made a lot of “kid friendly” food that was processed and prepackaged, but slowly I began to play with recipes and experiment to find that I actually LOVED to cook and my family loved to eat the food I made.
One day, my mother-in-law told me that the best thing I could do for my kids was to put myself first. She said “unless you are happy and centered in who you are, you can not give your kids all that they need.”
This major realization made me stop… and think… and reflect. How did I get here? For so long I let myself believe all of these stuff people had put on me and I never even questioned if it was true or not. I just went with it because it *seemed* like a Megan thing to be true. How much more was there for me to need to unravel?
At this point in my life, I was around 30 years old and had recently become a full-time mom over night to five kids ages 4-12 . I had totally lost myself and had no clue who I was anymore. I survived to make sure that all of my people’s’ needs were met and I had never stopped long enough to see where I fit into that. There just wasn’t any time…. ever. AND the last thing I ever wanted anyone to accuse me of was not being Super Mom even though I was totally winging it and had no idea what I was doing.
So, I stopped.
I stopped trying to be super mom and I spent every moment the kids were at school reflecting and surrounding myself with people who could help me find ME again. I got centered, I got to know the real me, and I found Christ…. a real, deep relationship with Christ. God prompted me to go deep… really deep in finding myself again and not skipping over any questions I just didn’t feel like answering. He showed me that those were the ones that I needed to spend the most time on and finally explore.
It was hard, but it was so necessary.
….and I’ve had to do this again many times since then. It is so easy to spend time helping others sort through the hard stuff in their lives, and so much more challenging looking deep within to find our true selves.
Here are a few questions you can start with to help you reflect and assess before you jump into action:
- Why do you want to get into this action?
- How will you successfully do it?
- With whom?
- How will you navigate the obstacles that will attempt to get in your way?
Also, please keep in mind that before you experience a lasting behavioral change, you need an attitude and/ or perspective change. You need a cease-fire in activity to develop a plan to incorporate healthy, sustainable changes that will impact your joy, your energy, and impact in the world around you.
Is this a struggle for you? Have you had success with reflection in the past? I’d love to hear about it in a comment below….