Creatures of Habit

Effective advice for lasting habit change

Improve Yourself—the Hard Way

Self-change success begets self-change success, right?

Self-improvement is wonderful. By definition, getting better is…good.

Also, the more self-change that you've achieved, the more you can achieve going forward. After all, you have the experience. You escaped the backslide. You made good plans, and mini-plans, that worked. You enlisted the support of friends, and they'll be around next time too. You know you can do it and knowing that you can do it is a big part of getting it done.

That's all great.

But here's the thing.

I'm betting that, last time you changed yourself, you didn't pick the hardest thing. Maybe you didn't even know that working on the hardest thing was possible. After all, if you're having trouble with finances, personal health, and your relationship, it may be hard to realize that, once you've solved all of those problems, you really want to rock climb.

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If you've already done the hardest thing, and it really is all down hill from here, I congratulate you. You need not read the rest of this post. Or, you can think of something absolutely impossible to work on and start on it. I suggest inventing a time machine. Preferably in the shape of a blue box.

But for those of you who are yet to do the hardest thing that you want to do, I have words of caution and encouragement.

The caution first.

This time, it's going to be tough. I mean really tough. Remember those feelings that you had the last time you made a big change in your life? Remember the doubt? The feeling of "not me-ness" that hung in the air? Well, some of those feelings are going to come back. Never mind that you're now a self-change superstar. The tough thing could make you feel like a self-change novice.

Now for the encouragement.

The good news, of course, is that you're not a novice. You're a virtual expert. You're ready. You've done tough things and you can do this one too. It's almost like you've been in training all of this time.

So, read all of my blog posts (heck, why not?), take a deep breath, and . . . . go!

For more from yours truly, visit me at My Bad Habits. I am also on Twitter.

Ian Newby-Clark is a psychologist at the University of Guelph who gives research-based advice for lasting habit change.

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