The Simple Truth That Can Change Your 2015

Will this be the year that you keep your New Year’s resolutions? It can be, if you accept one simple truth about how we humans change our behavior.

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The simple truth is: Change is a choice we make, over and over and over again. Not because we want to. Not because we have to. Only because we choose to. Moment by moment.

We all have that power of choice. And most of us don’t “know” that; i.e., we either don’t understand that, or we choose not to accept that truth. Once we choose to accept that as true, and start making some of those choices, we empower ourselves to change and sustain that change.

“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.” Byron Katie, The Work.

One simple trick to help us along is to use the phrase “I am . . .” with the change we choose to make. One example is the resolution my wife and I made about a year ago to start walking every day.

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One year later, we are still walking just about every day of the year. We walk when it’s 10 degrees outside. We walk when it rains. The only evenings we don’t walk are the few when it rains sideways during a huge storm.

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There are many nights when we don’t “feel like” walking. Especially when one of us works late or has had a rough day. That’s when we each remind ourselves: “I am a walker.” I choose to walk this evening because that is what I am. Period. End of conversation. Simple.

Granted, addictions are harder choices to make. And . . . they are still simple choices. Whether it’s food, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol or something else, we can still choose not to give in to our craving, moment by moment. And it’s certainly OK to seek out friends, loved ones or programs that can support us in making that choice over and over and over again.

Another personal example: About eight months ago my wife and I decided to clean up our eating habits. Not that we ate poorly. But we were both carrying around more weight than we wanted and did not have the energy we wanted to have.

So we went “almost vegan.” The first couple of weeks were hard. Very hard. And after a few weeks of making dozens of different choices every day about what we ate and drank, the reality of “I am a vegan” became easier and easier to live. Eight months later, we are still eating mostly vegan, and both weigh less than we have in more than 20 years. And have much more energy.

Our latest change choice is to drink “green smoothies” each morning for breakfast, made with spinach, kale, apple, banana and flax seed. So far so good -- seven days into the new program. Again, it’s a choice we each make each morning. A choice we make each day, because now “I am a green smoothie drinker.” That means I drink the smoothie, even when I don’t feel like doing it.

Next up on the list will be a daily strength-training program, on top of our daily walk.

Now that I’ve shared a few personal examples, I’d like to repeat that simple truth, and invite you to read it slowly one more time:

The simple truth is: Change is a choice we make, over and over and over again. Not because we want to. Not because we have to. Only because we choose to. Moment by moment.
We all have that power of choice. And most of us don’t “know” that; i.e., we either don’t understand that, or we choose not to accept that truth. Once we choose to accept that as true, and start making some of those choices, we empower ourselves to change and sustain that change.
“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.” Byron Katie, The Work

Bob Kantor helps executives redefine, redesign and redirect where they are going with their careers and their organizations, so that they significantly enhance their success. He works with senior STEM executives from prominent multinational Fortune 100-type companies, who are based in the U.S., China, Japan and Europe.

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