Change Takes Time

We all have something we’d like to change in our lives. For me, it’s my expectations for keeping up with things at home. I’ve always been a pretty motivated person, though I wouldn’t say that I’m a “type A” personality or anything. I can still be a quite inattentive and disorganized at times. However, I certainly have something inside me that wants to always be productive and feel like I’m staying on top of things. If I fall behind, I feel stressed and upset. I used to get mad at myself about it but have been learning to have grace for myself.

Recognizing the need for change

The problem is that staying on top of things is not always possible in life. Life can throw you unexpected curveballs. Things happen that are out of our control. It’s important to remember this and let yourself off the hook sometimes.

When my expectations for life are not realistic, I’m not the only one who is impacted by the resulting stress. When I’m stressed, my family also suffers. I become short with my kids and begin picking fights with my husband over the little things. That’s why I see the need for change in my life.

Fixing one thing at a time

I’ve learned that it’s best to just take one area of life at a time. Taking on too much will make you feel overwhelmed. My husband and I both work and have two small children. Life is busy! Despite my expectations, it’s not always possible to keep up.

For now, I’m working on finding a system that works for keeping up with the laundry. I know from experience that it’s not possible to be totally caught up. My system needs to allow room for life to get in the way. We all need to find our own system that will work for us. My biggest success was figuring out how to leave the laundry in a constant undone cycle in the laundry room. This leaves room for me to slowly cycle things through, take some time once a week to fold and put it away, and keep the unfolded clothes out of sight so that it doesn’t feel undone.

Once one system has been working, I’m hoping to find a better system for keeping the house clean. For now, we try to clean for 10 minutes before and after the kids go to bed to keep up. That’s taken us years of trying for that to stick and there are still times that we slack off and have to remember to get back to it.

Lasting change takes time

It’s important to remember that lasting change takes time. Research shows that it takes 66 days of doing something over and over for you to turn a bad habit into a good one. In our society today, it seems like everyone wants an instant solution to a chronic problem. We want change and we want it to happen right now. Life is more complicated than that, and we cannot change it all at once.

People bring their kids into the counseling office and want an instant answer for a behavior problem or a self-esteem issue, but most real problems can’t be fixed in a few sessions. It takes time and the whole family working together to make lasting change.

Simple steps to lasting change

When we expect change to happen quickly, we get disappointed, overwhelmed and just give up.  You simply can’t tackle everything at once. Below are some simple steps that can lead to lasting change.

  •   Recognize areas in your life you’d like to change.
  •   Choose one thing at a time to fix.
  •   Set realistic expectations that allow for life to get in the way.
  •   Develop a plan that allows for slow progress. There is no quick fix!
  •   Celebrate the small victories.

For example, let’s say that you’d like to help your family live a healthier lifestyle and eat healthier foods. You’d have to break this down into multiple areas and make smaller goals, taking one thing at a time. Here you might start with start with cutting out high fructose corn syrup.  Begin by making some goals for your family that allow for slow progress. Be sure to celebrate small victories and remember that life might occasionally get in the way. Birthdays, holidays and parties in general might tempt you to make a temporary exception. Once you’ve mastered this area, you can start trying to drink more water, or limit sweets and fats.

The key is to pick one area of your life to work on at a time. For now, I’ll keep working on spending 10 minutes a day keeping up with cleaning, and my new goal will be increasing my family’s water intake with summer coming up.  What about you? I hope you’ll consider picking one thing and following the simple steps above to start seeing change in your life.

– Charity Ritter LISW-S

For counseling information, please visit our page on Counseling for Children.


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