It’s no secret that hard work and perseverance pay off. Just take a look at mother nature.

When you dedicate yourself to something and work hard at it, over time – the results are almost always staggering. How amazing is it that we have the power to accomplish almost anything we set our minds to?

But, it’s sooo easy to get pulled in by the promises of quick fixes and shortcuts. Whether it’s a diet or workout program or some other lifestyle overhaul – shortcuts (as shiny and enticing as they are) can actually sabotage your efforts to change.

That’s because we overestimate what we can accomplish in a short time frame and way underestimate what we can achieve in the long run.

Shortcuts and quick fixes are usually a band-aid solution that isn’t connected to your bigger, more meaningful goals.

Sure, you can lose 5 lbs. in a week if you want to. But is that change sustainable and is it truly connected to your bigger goal of, say, being healthy and living longer?

There are no shortcuts to your soul’s goals.

There are no shortcuts to the kind of life that is filled with meaning and purpose.

As the co-founder of my favorite sno-ball shop, Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, used to say, “There are no shortcuts to quality.”

When we consider improving our quality of life, we want to feel healthier, happier, more inspired and fulfilled. That kind of life does not happen by mistake, or through shortcuts.

It doesn’t happen to us – it happens because of us.

We can be easily impressed by people with seemingly effortless health habits, soaring careers, and happy families. The truth is that their results didn’t come from shortcuts.

Their results mean that they focused on what was most important to them day in and day out, without giving up, even when they had setbacks. It means that despite the myriad of excuses ALWAYS available – they stayed the course.

Now, having said that, here’s the exciting piece of the successful habits puzzle that you might not know…

It doesn’t have to be hard to build positive habits that last.

 

Use these three tools to make the road to deep, meaningful, and lasting change easier and even joyful.

1.) Awareness

It’s REALLY hard to create a map to your dream destination if you don’t know where you’re starting from. Understanding exactly where you are (objectively) in relation to the person you want to become is crucial to creating lasting change.

Building self-awareness includes getting curious about not just what you want, but why you’re willing to move through challenges to get it. What does your dream destination feel like? How is it different than where you are now? What transitions will you need to go through to experience it? And, WHY do you want it?

The practices of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness build awareness. Awareness is your capacity to observe what is happening in the moment without being attached to the outcome. Cultivating awareness allows you to tap into the unchanging part of yourself that is always steady and at peace. When you can access and draw upon this steadiness, life’s ups and downs aren’t quite as dramatic. You take actions based on your deeper purpose, rather than using shortcuts and bypassing the depth of your experience.

Begin building awareness by simply noticing when you transition from one activity, place, thought construct, to something different. Gradually you’ll be able to view the changes you want to make with less reactivity (life will no longer be an all or nothing game) and staying on course to lasting change will be much easier. In fact, you may find yourself avoiding the shortcuts for the scenic route.

2.) Small Wins

In order to create lasting change, we have to create lasting habits. But, going from a couch potato to a marathon runner isn’t a matter of changing a single habit one time. Before something becomes a habit we need to build it into our psyche by creating multiple small wins.

Small wins come from breaking a big goal into steps and letting go of perfect outcomes. Gradually we experience the thrill of progress and improvement, which literally reshapes our brains toward repeating the habits that created these small wins.

When we focus on small wins we teach ourselves that we can, and do, stick to our commitments. When we honor our personal agreements, we build integrity with ourselves.

3.) Accountability

Before a desired habit becomes a well-formed, solid habit, we have to actually perform an action even when we have resistance to taking that action. Sometimes willpower and motivation will move us through our resistance, but we can’t rely on it 100%.

One of the most powerful tools for supporting behaviour change is group accountability.

Research shows that we transform faster when we learn and grow in groups. When we share our goals and plans with others and have support, accountability can help transition our healthy behaviours from inconsistent to consistent.

Shortcuts and quick fixes work for some things in life, but when it comes to creating lasting change you don’t want to rely on them.

Long lasting positive change is, quite simply, a series of healthy, solid choices that become habits over time. Our habits can move mountains. Shortcuts can only move mole hills.

The more we increase our awareness of the distance we will travel, the more creative we are at building small wins and enjoying the change process, and the more we reach out and connect with others for accountability – the more success we will experience on our journey of life.

Do you want to learn how to create big change with small shifts?
Start with my free guide: 5 Simple Shifts to Less Stress and More Joy!

 

 

Photo Credit: Andrew Coelho via Unsplash