Positivities of Persistence
Grab that journal or note pad and let’s get our positivity on! This month we will address the following two Positivies of Persistence areas together:
- A checklist of positive outcomes.
- Habits and hurdles.
A CHECKLIST OF POSITIVE OUTCOMES
Stop for just a moment and reflect upon your desires. If there were no hurdles to overcome (such as financial restraints, fears, health concerns, spiritual uncertainties, etc.), what would your “perfect life” look like? Where would you live? Who would be in your close circle? Would you be working? If so, doing what? What would you do for fun? What goals would you be achieving?
When I was working on my undergrad in Psychology, my goal was to continue on to graduate school, with the dream of pursuing my PhD in Child Psychology. My husband at the time even gifted me a car for my graduation and had the license plate PHD2BE on it. Life, however, had other plans and that goal was derailed. But, that dream is still on my to-do list. I might be 80 when I make it a reality, but it will happen.
Exercise: Create YOUR checklist of positive outcomes. Spare no detail. As a matter of fact, the more details that are included, the more you can envision that outcome coming to life!
Exercise: Choose one of your outcomes and break it down into smaller outcomes. For instance, my own – Obtain PhD (main outcome): research school options, find out application deadlines and fees, reach out to admissions, research scholarship options, choose school, complete application, etc. Obviously my broken down list would be more inclusive, but this gives you an idea.
Exercise: Choose ONE of those smaller outcomes and determine if you can break it down even smaller. Baby steps. Baby steps. Then do so.
Exercise: Finally . . . choose one of those mini-goals and do it.
HABITS AND HURDLES
One of the books I read and reference when giving speaking presentations is The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Habit formation is key to change. I had created a habit of avoidance behaviors as a way of dealing with my panic attacks and certain triggers such as driving over bridges. I started to create new response habits, new anticipatory habits, and new “cheer myself on” habits. These changes in habits then resulted in new neuron pathways in my brain.
Our brain is malleable (changeable) and the way we can positively change it is through positive habit formation. Think about wanting to tone our body. Obviously, we cannot think ourselves fit. We must do the work to sculpt our bodies in the way we envision. Leg day. Cardio. Hiking. Swimming. Biking. Whatever it is that we use to create positive body changes. That same philosophy applies to our brains. A brain workout is in order if we are to create positive changes.
Exercise: Write down (or voice record) positive thinking patterns and responses you would like to implement. Do you want to be calmer and not quick to anger? Do you want to notice God’s gifts/the beauty of the universe surrounding you throughout your day? Do you want to reduce your anxiety symptoms? (These are just a few ideas that popped into my head as I have worked on these exact habitual responses myself)
Exercise: After completing that list, write down (or record) ways you can begin to change your current habits. For instance, instead of screaming at fellow drivers on the road, can you turn on happy music (whatever is happy for YOU) and focus on the lyrics, melodies, messages in the songs instead of the skills of other drivers (or lack thereof!).
Realistically, you will encounter hurdles. Habits are difficult to break. The key, however, is persistence. Ah, the theme of this series. Persistence.
One skill I want to you to practice as you come upon hurdles is gentleness. Remind yourself gently that you are working toward change and it’s fine to fall back into old patterns. Be easy on you. Give yourself a pep talk. Then try it again. And again. And again. We cannot lift weights one day and expect our arms to be ripped. Right? The same goes with brain change and new habit formation. Keep at it. And be sure to give yourself props when you start to notice a new habit forming. You deserve the praise.
Exercise: Record hurdles you are experiencing along the way. How are you overcoming them? What can you do to avoid them? How long did it take to no longer consider something a hurdle, but simply a reminder to re-direct? Keep track of progress you are making along your positive habit formation journey.
Coming up next month: Accountability