How to make a positive change

It can be difficult to acknowledge that something in your life isn’t making you happy. Even once you have identified an area that needs to change, making it happen can seem overwhelming.

In order to determine which aspects of your life are not contributing to your happiness, it can help to write down your goals, passions and interests. Goal journals can help you to stay on track with your ambitions. Once you are clear about what you want to achieve moving forward, ask yourself ‘is what I am doing helping me get to where I want to be?’. Be pragmatic about your answer and write down any habits, people or environments that are not pushing you towards achieving your goals.


Choose the changes

Once you know which areas of your life need adjusting, it’s time to start making some changes. Making huge, life-altering decisions can be overwhelming, so start small. If your overall goal is to live a healthier lifestyle and you start by trying to go to the gym five times a week and only eating vegetables, your chances of success are small. Instead, aim for consistency rather than perfection. To start your health journey, begin by setting yourself a small target, like to drink two litres of water per day or go for a walk three times a week. It is important to give yourself realistic targets to maintain motivation, anything that feels overwhelming will be more difficult to sustain in the long run.

Remember that change can take time, in fact it takes 66 days on average to form a new habit. Try to be patient and avoid being critical of yourself. Starting with small changes will help you to feel accomplished and give you motivation to move on to bigger targets.


Find the right environment

Your environment can influence your behaviour. Sometimes, the best target you can set yourself is just to get to a place that is conducive to the changes you want to see. For example, if you want to find a new relationship, your target for the week could simply be to go to a place where you can meet people. Or to achieve a professional goal, go to a library or rent a workspace.

Putting yourself in a productive environment is a good way to get out of a rut. The same goes for the people you surround yourself with. Think about the relationships you have in your life, which are making you happy and helping you to achieve your goals? Focus on nurturing healthy, positive relationships built on mutual support. Plan to spend quality time with loved ones to strengthen relationships and improve mental health, self-esteem and sense of purpose.


Attach hew habits to existing ones

Habits are acquired behaviour patterns that are regularly followed. The changes you are looking to make may involve forming new habits or removing old ones. A technique that may help you to make habitual change involves upgrading and replacing existing habits. Set a small, achievable target that you can tack on to part of your everyday routine. For instance, if your goal is to write a book, your new habit could be to spend 15 minutes writing every night after dinner.

Again, it is important to aim for consistency, not perfection. An all-or-nothing attitude could result in failure, whilst training your brain to repeat a daily pattern removes the need for motivation, which can be unreliable.


Be accountable

As motivation is a feeling and is not concrete, it can sometimes fail you. Try not to be critical as this can result in low self-esteem which can further reduce willpower. Instead, take steps to make yourself accountable for your goals. Forbes reported that writing down short and long-term targets acts as a way of externally storing your goals as a visual cue, allowing you easy access to review them at any time. Additionally, writing improves the process of encoding, which is the way information gets stored and recalled in your brain. Both of these factors mean you are statistically more likely to achieve a goal if you write it down.

You can also enlist friends and family to keep you accountable. Explain that you are working towards a specific goal and ask them to check in with you once a week to ensure you are making progress towards your target. You can even arrange to meet them to work on your goal, in an appropriate space like the gym, or in a café or workspace.


Put your phone down

Social media is a killer of motivation. Give yourself the gift of time by deleting  – or at least not launching – the social media platforms that can suck you in for hours. Not only can these platforms cause you to be critical of yourself and others, promoting negativity, they are also a big distraction

If you need to make a change, give these techniques a go to work towards a happier life. Remember to be patient and lean on others for support and encouragement.


If you are working towards better mental health, we have also written about 21st century therapy apps!