Trying to Change? Develop These Five Character Traits
By Mindy Kantor
In a previous blog post, I shared that transformation starts with I. We must we choose to change how we behave and act, if we expect others to follow along. As someone determined to enjoy my own transformational journey instead of being focused on an outcome, I know it’s easier said than done. It’s a formidable task to break the cycle of negative patterns that holds you back from changing.
I recently read about how practicing a particular Kriyā or mantra every single day for the same amount of time determines if you will break negative patterns and actually change. Kriyā is derived from the Sanskrit root, kri, meaning “to do,” and means “action, deed, effort.” For those, like me, who like to set milestones and goals, I was happy to read some stats from Yogi Bhajan on how long it takes to break a negative habit and adopt a new one. In:
40 days: You can break any negative habit that blocks you from expansion.
90 days: Your new habit is in your conscious and subconscious minds allowing change in a deep way.
120 days: Your new habit is confirmed and being purposefully integrated.
1000 days: You have mastered the new habit of consciousness. No matter what the challenge, you can call on your new habit to serve you.
In essence, we need over 2.5 years to master change. I don’t know about you, but that feels like a long time, and a lot of patience and perseverance. This got me thinking about how we all adapt to change differently. From my personal and professional experience on change, I think there’s five-character traits worth developing to aid you on your journey:
Desire: You must clearly outline what you want to change and make it be one of your top priorities. If you don’t really care, it will never happen.
Dedication: You must commit to your task or purpose. Forming new habits takes time. There are plenty of people and things that can distract you. I recommend dedicating specific times on your schedule to help make the effort more of a routine, similar to brushing your teeth or putting your kids to bed. No excuses allowed.
Self-Discipline: You must be in control of yourself. You can and should be open to help, but you need to be able to take charge on your own. You must allow your intuition to rule and be your inner guide. Ignore the temptations lurking around you that distract you from your ultimate goal.
Resilience: You must be able to get up when you fall down and recover quickly. This means having grit, adapting to new challenges along the way, and facing issues you’d rather ignore. For example, don’t beat yourself or get angry if you miss a day in your new routine. Examine what made that happen, accept it, and begin again. Taking the time to learn from mistakes makes you stronger and more committed to reaching your goal.
Confidence: You must cultivate appreciation of who you are, and gratitude for how far you’ve come on your journey. Take time to recognize and respect your own abilities and qualities.
Once you clearly determine your objective, I have found that making small changes over a period of time can help you ease into something as an alternative to jumping in. For example, I started to unsubscribe to emails to curb impulse shopping online. I set reminders on my calendar to make sure I break away from my computer. Then when I committed to removing soda from my diet, I started with removing it from the grocery list over-time and supplementing it with coffee, tea, and water. I’m proud to be seven years clean.
If you are looking for help building resilience or confidence, I find that posting affirmations around your workspace or in your notebook is helpful. A few years ago, I started creating “Don’t Lists” that I would read before joining calls that could test my resolve. My lists would include statements like “don’t rush” and “don’t get frustrated.”
There’s also plenty of books, articles, and meet-up groups available to help you develop in any of these areas. For example, Toastmaster groups center on building confidence for presence and presenting.
These lists and suggestions are not exhaustive. Please share character traits you have developed along the way that have helped you develop and form new habits.