How can a person change what they do? There seems to be a conflict between what we desire and what we do. We want to lose weight but we don’t do the exercise or diet that will lead to this end. Many times our “ideal” goals are not done because our daily behavior does not support them. So what can we do to change our behavior so that we can become the people we would like to be?
To change behavior we need to:
1. Decide what behavior we really want to change and what others simply want us to change. Benjamin Franklin set thirteen goals for his life and was able to make real progress in twelve of them. The one that he failed at was “humility” because it was suggested by a friend and never was something he had any desire to attain. So get rid of just behavior changes that other people think you should make in your life and decide what behavior changes you really desire to make. (For more information on Franklin’s system see http://sevenactions.com/2008/02/master-your-personal-goals-the-ben-franklin-way/ )
2. Focus only on making one change in your behavior at a time. Change of behavior is difficult so it is better to focus on one significant change at a time. Ask God in prayer to help you define what the most needed change in behavior that you should make in your life.
3. Pray for God’s help in making this change. Ask for HIS will to be done on earth as in heaven in this particular behavior in your life.
4. Is there a physical aspect of this problem you need to recognize? Is this behavior driven by a physical impulse, passion, desire or hunger? Acknowledge the physical aspect of your struggle and name what it is. Example – I like chocolate and hate exercise therefore I eat chocolate and avoid exercise.
5. Make a list of all the negative impacts of this behavior on your life? Why do you want to change this behavior?
6. Make a list of all the positive “pleasures” this behavior brings to your life?” How could you find a better, healthier, and holier way to have pleasure but not this behavior? What “pollution” does this behavior bring to these “pleasures”? Make a list of finding “pleasure” but in a different way.
7. Review this list daily. Remind yourself what this behavior has cost you in health, wealth, and relationships. Change the way you think about this behavior. Don’t see it as a “solution” but as a problem or a cancer to your life. Tell yourself a story about the behavior that uses strong adjectives and is very negative. Also tell yourself how your life will be better without this behavior. Review your story often and especially when you want to do the behavior again or after a relapse into the behavior.
8. Ask some friends to hold you accountable to this change. Ask them to pray for you in making this change.
9. Make note of any success you are having in making this change. Celebrate that success.
10. When you feel you have reached permanent change in this area. Give yourself a party. Then move on to your next change.
I hope these ideas help you to look for a process of changing behavior. Be patient with yourself. Self-loathing does not create change. Ask God to give you wisdom on how to make the changes you want in your life. By God’s great grace found in Jesus Christ HE can change our lives, one step at a time.