By Nicholas Smith, LPC

“People never change.” How many times have you heard that saying in the span of your life? As a Counselor, I have problems with that phrase because if people never actually changed, my career wouldn’t exist. The truth of the matter is that until people see a reason or need to change, they won’t.

Change is sort of a loaded word. It implies pain or discomfort on some levels even if the change we are striving for is good, such as improving a marriage, overcoming anxiety, or achieving fitness goals. In order to bring about change in our own lives, we must consistently remind ourselves that the pain of change, is more bearable than the pain of staying the same. Change is possible, we see it here at Heritage everyday.

Most of us have a list of things that we would like to change in our lives yet we have never really taken the time to put much conscious thought to it. Take some time to sit quietly and examine your life. What are the things that you would like to do differently? Time management, fitness, career change, reading more, spending more time with your kids, having family dinners, etc. are all examples of common things people wish they could improve upon. The first step of change is to examine your life, then write them down on a piece of paper. These are your Change Goals.

After you have your Change Goals written down, you have to say them out loud to another person. When you say it out loud, you start to own it in your mind. That’s why in AA a person introduces himself or herself by saying, “My name is ____________ and I’m an alcoholic." The ownership fosters the atmosphere of change. It also keeps you accountable to someone outside of yourself. From now on it’s going to be painful to tell that person if you have not been making steps to reach your change goal, therefore increasing the pain of staying the same.

So you have your Change Goals written down and you have said them out loud to a friend; now you need a plan. Break down goals into smaller sections. For example, if your goal was to run a Marathon, you are better off doing many shorter runs and over time, building up to 26.2 miles.

Finally, don’t beat yourself up for not being able to achieve your goals overnight. It takes a lot of time to reach goals; anything that is worth doing is most likely going to take a lot of time and effort. Surround yourself with encouraging messages and people. Follow Blogs such as this one to continuously feed yourself with positive messages. Remove friends on Facebook who are always posting negative messages and start following people who bring positive ones.

You have what it takes to make a lasting, meaningful change in your life!