Imagine a version of you that's in perfect shape. A version that eats healthy, works out daily, and cut down on caffeine. When we think about the perfect version of our life story we each have an ideal life we aspire to live. Ask yourself this: Do you know the details of how you achieved this ideal life? Most of us won't know every little detail, but isn't it true that having that ideal case inspires us?
Well the reality is that it's great to dream big and to have ambitions, because that is what motivates us to improve. But in order to see change we have make plans to achieve smaller goals that will eventually lead to that "perfect you".
I wont list all the benefits of therapy here but for me one of the primary reasons I spend time on training my emotional health is that overcoming challenges in life is not enough. I want to turn the challenges into opportunities. It's about better understanding who I am and how I can increase my sense of fulfillment and joy.
Building mental muscles is similar to physical muscles it takes repeated amount of practice. Just like eating healthy and going to the gym we always find reasons to talk ourselves out of it.
My advice on building any habit is following these 4 principles:
1) Block time off on your calendar. This way you know that this time is allocated for therapy. Decision making is difficult and creates opportunity to bail. I do this with working out, therapy and even meal planning for the week.
2) Set small achievable goals. Have an idea of what you want to achieve but also think about the smaller goals that need to be achieved before you get there.
3) Build routines. You're making important decisions all day. With work, with school or your family. Having a routine helps you live a healthy life without being a huge additional burden. President Obama is a big fan of "routinizing the routine", I got into routine building after seeing so many people I look up to doing it.
4) Visualize the process not just the results. This helps you keep at it and it reduces the anxiety that comes with change and challenges. This study showed that those who visualized the process in more detail (ex. wanting to swim a long distance by visualizing practicing every day for the next 3 weeks) were able to stay more consistent than those who only visualize the final result (ex. finishing a long distance swim and getting compliments from friends).