Healthy Beginnings

How to Make Positive Changes in Your Life

Making positive changes in your life can be difficult. Making lasting positive changes in your life can be harder, but it does not have to be that way.

There are many studies based on the Positive Psychology Model that give us guidance and blueprints on how to enact lasting positive changes in our lives. Most of us know that we need to change some behaviors in our lives to increase our health and wellness. The knowing and doing are two completely different things, and being armed with this knowledge gives us insight on how to bring about lasting positive change.

Why do we want to change? What is our motivation? This is one of the first questions we must explore before we begin our journey to enact change in our lives. “My doctor told me to quit smoking.” So, I need to quit smoking. “My wife said that I am overweight.” So, I need to lose weight.

These statements reflect External Motivation for change, and have the least amount of chance for success in enacting permanent lasting positive change. When we tap into our Autonomous Motivation we greatly increase our chances for making lasting positive changes in our lives. Simply put, we do not like being told what to do. Nor do we like feeling manipulated into making changes. We must truly want to change. The desire and idea for change must come from within. “I want to quit smoking because I know it’s bad for me, and I want to live a long and healthy life so that I can watch my grandkids grow up.” “I want to lose weight because I know it is slowing me down, and I want to run and play like I did when I was younger.”

“Psychologist Albert Bandura has defined self-efficacy as one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. One’s sense of self-efficacy can play a major role in how one approaches goals, tasks, and challenges.” How do we find self-efficacy? How do we build and nurture it within ourselves? We build it through the successful completion of small goals that we set for ourselves. We reflect on past successes and remember how it made us feel.

“I will not smoke today!” A small goal set with S.M.A.R.T. parameters: (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-Bound). Once accomplished, the next goal can be set. “I will not smoke for two days!” Upon completion, the next goal is set and the next, and then the next goal is realized and we are building up our self-efficacy, building the belief in ourselves that we are the masters of our destiny and we control our actions.

“Oh… but what if I break down and have a cigarette and don’t make my goal for the day?” Did you fail? No. Did you not reach your goal for the day? Yes. Treat each S.M.A.R.T. goal as an experiment. You broke down and had a cigarette while stuck in traffic. What can we learn from this experiment? Stress triggers old habits. Where did the cigarette come from? How can we alter our environment to help us accomplish our goal for the day? Focus on the positives you accomplished and not the negatives. By focusing on what you did right and congratulating yourself makes it easier to move forward toward the completion of your goal. Focusing on the negative will only bog you down and flood your brain with negative emotions. This is not the recipe of change. Numerous studies indicate that negative emotions hamper your ability to make sound decisions. “Negative emotions reduce the brain’s ability to learn, to take in new knowledge and skills, by impairing the function of the prefrontal cortex, impairing access to working memory, which is the raw material for creativity. This hampers curiosity, cognitive agility, and creative and strategic thinking.” Simply put, beating yourself up makes it harder to change.

So, you want to create lasting positive change in your life. You want to create a healthier and vibrate you. You want wellness. Say it and create it. Write down your wellness vision or draw a picture. However you wish to express it is up to you. But, it is important that you physically plant the seed in your brain. Actions and words create action, and positive words affect you just as negative words affect you. Choose your words and thoughts carefully. Feed yourself positive words and thoughts. Remember past successes and how you achieved them and how they made you feel. Create a positive environment. Make sure you have the materials and people in your life that can help you achieve the change you desire. Think about working with a Certified Health and Wellness Coach to help you succeed. Most importantly, know that you have the power to change. Know that all the knowledge and skills that are required to create a more vibrant and happy you are inside you at this very moment.

You have everything you need to succeed. Change can be difficult. Most things in life that are good and lasting take some hard work and courage. You have that courage. Take small steps toward the bigger picture and you will get there. “My belief in you is stronger than your doubt.”

For more information, call Patrick Hicks, owner of Nevada Bodyworks, at 775-453-0099 or visit