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How to make change permanent

Some of the questions I’ve been asked this week are:

How do I drive to my new job when I can’t drive on the motorway without having a panic attack?

How do I go to my son’s wedding when I’m so anxious?

How can I start going to the gym when the thought of all those people looking at me fills me with fear?

All these questions are about helping people to overcome anxiety, but also about making change permanent. The techniques that I use are not short-term solutions that will help you cope, but life-time tools that create change.

Making change stick can be challenging, but here are some strategies that can help you succeed:

  • Set clear goals:

Clearly define and write down your goals to provide direction and motivation. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART goals).

  • Understand your motivation:

Reflect on why you want to make this change and how it aligns with your values and desires. Understanding your motivation will keep you focused and committed when faced with challenges.

  • Start small:

Break down your change into smaller, manageable steps. By taking small actions consistently, you can build momentum and increase your chances of success. Celebrate each small achievement along the way.

  • Replace old habits:

Identify the habits and behaviours that hinder your progress. Replace them with healthier or more productive alternatives. For example, if you want to quit smoking, replace the habit of smoking with engaging in physical exercise or deep breathing whenever you feel the urge to smoke.

Surround yourself with support: Share your goals with friends, family, or a supportive community. Seek out people who will encourage and inspire you during your journey. Their continued support can make a significant difference.

  • Track your progress:

Keep a record of your progress, whether it’s through a journal app, or calendar. Regularly reviewing your accomplishments can provide a sense of achievement and keep you motivated.

  • Stay positive:

Develop a positive mindset and embrace self-compassion. Accept that setbacks and obstacles are part of the change process and learn from them instead of beating yourself up. Practice positive affirmations and visualize yourself successfully maintaining the change.

Remember, making lasting change takes time and effort. Be patient, persistent, and committed to the process.

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