Mak­ing that change

Try­ing some­thing out­side your com­fort zone can blow up your life in amaz­ing ways you’ve never imag­ined. Dis­cover the two unconventional strate­gies that will mo­ti­vate you to make it hap­pen.

Shape (Malaysia) - - Contents - By Mirel Ketchiff • Pho­to­graph by Jonathon Kam­bouris

Dis­rupt­ing your fa­mil­iar ex­is­tence by, say, tak­ing a sab­bat­i­cal from work to travel, start­ing your own busi­ness, or mov­ing cross-coun­try is one of the most ex­hil­a­rat­ing and re­ward­ing things you’ll do. Ever. “Mak­ing a big change can in­crease your sense of life’s pos­si­bil­i­ties, and as you rise to new chal­lenges, this can also in­crease your re­silience,” Dr. says Rick Han­son, a psy­chol­o­gist and the author of Re­silient: How to Grow an Un­shak­able Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness. “Bold moves can also lead to rapid per­sonal growth, can build your per­sonal in­de­pen­dence and con­fi­dence, and can add more excitement to your life.”

The leap of faith nec­es­sary to do some­thing to­tally dif­fer­ent has other pow­er­ful ef­fects on the brain, Han­son adds. “Big changes call for a cre­ative, even play­ful at­ti­tude, and stud­ies have shown that play­ful­ness boosts the ac­tiv­ity of neu­rotrophic chem­i­cals in the brain that help you learn and grow from your ex­pe­ri­ences,” he says. “This lets the life lessons from big changes re­ally sink in, which in turn helps you stay mo­ti­vated.” Change also gives you a huge emo­tional lift. Peo­ple who made big trans­for­ma­tions, such as leav­ing their jobs or go­ing back to school, were hap­pier six months later than those who stuck to the status quo, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by the Na­tional Bureau of Eco­nomic Re­search.

Best of all, the spark you feel from shak­ing up your life con­tin­ues to burn brightly. “Change leads to more change,” says Dr. B.J. Fogg, a be­hav­iour sci­en­tist and the founder of the Be­hav­ior De­sign Lab at Stan­ford Univer­sity. “When you make a big ad­just­ment, you also tend to switch up your environment, your sched­ule, and your so­cial cir­cle. That then en­sures that you keep evolv­ing and ad­vanc­ing.”

The hard­est part about mak­ing a change is get­ting started. We asked ex­perts for their best strate­gies to kick things off, and they gave us two sur­pris­ing sug­ges­tions that run con­trary to the stan­dard ad­vice—and have been proved much more ef­fec­tive.

Start with a bang

Once you’ve de­cided to move for­ward with a big change, go full force. If you want to move to a dif­fer­ent re­gion, for ex­am­ple, rather than do­ing re­search and get­ting bogged down in data like hous­ing prices—which sucks the joy out of your de­ci­sion—take a trip to your dream des­ti­na­tion and just ex­pe­ri­ence for your­self what it’s like to live there. “Tak­ing ac­tion first without over­think­ing it trig­gers mo­ti­va­tion, es­pe­cially if there’s a fun or cel­e­bra­tory el­e­ment to what you’re do­ing,” says Stephen Guise, the author of How to Be an Im­per­fec­tion­ist. Be­gin­ning your jour­ney with some­thing mun­dane like re­search, on the other hand, slows your progress and is likely to make you stall out al­to­gether.

Play the long game

Giving your­self a spe­cific dead­line for suc­cess sounds like a rea­son­able idea for some­one look­ing to make a life switch. But that can ac­tu­ally work against you by cre­at­ing too much pres­sure, Guise says. If you truly want to trans­form your ex­pe­ri­ence, he sug­gests not giving your­self a fin­ish line. “When you start head­ing in a new direc­tion, you should be think­ing, I’m go­ing to be do­ing this and en­joy­ing it for the long term, not I need to ac­com­plish this in 60 days,” he says. This men­tal shift makes you more re­silient to ob­sta­cles you might run into along the way, Guise says. If you’re not chas­ing a par­tic­u­lar end date, prob­lems and set­backs are less dis­cour­ag­ing, and it’s eas­ier to put a bad day in per­spec­tive and move for­ward again to­mor­row.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.