Think you can’t change? Perhaps you want to exercise more, read the Bible more often, use your time better, be more positive, or change the way you see yourself. You tried but gave up. Making changes can be difficult, true, but the good news is that it’s not impossible, and never too late to make changes for the better.
Many of us have goals that we’d like to accomplish, but achieving lasting change can be challenging. Making temporary changes is easy, but creating a new habit or lifestyle that sticks requires more thought and effort.
It is easy to make temporary changes and stick to our choices and new habits for just a while. There is more at play when we want to get a long-term transformation. Sometimes we start motivated but get discouraged by challenges or comments from people around us. Or we simply don’t believe in ourselves and think we can’t do it.
When we are able to change for the better, we will improve our overall state of well-being. How do you achieve this sustainable growth in any area of your life?
What is the meaning of lasting change?
Lasting change means a permanent transformation. Like when God changes our earthly bodies into resurrected bodies (Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:52-53), when Jesus returns. Enduring change means it will last forever, or until we need to change in another direction.
According to the Cambridge dictionary, lasting change means:
- Lasting: continuing to exist for a long time or forever.
- Change: to exchange one thing for another thing, especially of a similar type. Or to make or become different.
Change simply means differing from before. Having new habits, a new mindset, new expectations, a new lifestyle, a new routine, etc. We exchange our old ‘self’ for a new self. When we become born again, our old self is exchanged for our new self spiritually.
After that, God wants us to continue improving ourselves for the better until we become exactly how He wanted us to be. God did not create us to remain the same forever.
Exchanging our old habits for new ones is one thing. Sticking to it is another thing. That is where endurance comes in. A long-term change stays, no matter what we face and no matter what comes along the way.
What makes lasting change?
The first step to lasting change is to understand what’s important to you. The things that are important to you usually represent your values. When you live based on your values (honoring your values), you will feel happy, fulfilled, and stable. Generally, it means you do what you love and love what you do.
If (parts of) your life goes against your own values, you will feel unhappy and unfulfilled. Lasting change is only possible when you take your values into consideration.
The next step is to determine the choices and decisions that represent where you want to be. Maybe you want to start a new career, lose weight, stop thinking negatively, or start exercising. Whatever the change is, be sure you understand the reason you want the change. Let your values be at the foundation of where or how you want to be.
Once you have identified your ‘why’, tune your mindset toward what you want to achieve. To create lasting change—a permanent transformation—you need a growth mindset. This is not a one-time action, but it is a lifelong decision.
A growth mindset is a powerful tool for nurturing an enduring difference. It means realizing your abilities, skills, and strengths can be developed through your effort, learning, and practice.
God gave each of us strengths in the form of talents. We need to develop those talents to become strengths. And that is the last step in making lasting change. Leveraging your strengths means recognizing what you already have and then using it to support your journey of change.
By emphasizing our natural talents and focusing on areas where we excel, it will better position us to identify and implement meaningful changes in any aspect of our life. Eventually, we will learn how to be more confident in who we are and love ourselves.
Develop awareness of your limiting beliefs and habits
Often, the biggest obstacle to creating lasting change is ourselves. We often act under our deeply held beliefs and habits, even if they are negative and may damage achieving our goals. To create a meaningful and lasting transformation, we must first recognize those patterns that limit us.
Our mindsets can make us or break us. Knowing how to control your mind is vital for achieving a lasting change in your life. If you don’t identify any negative thought patterns you may have, those thoughts will continually interfere with your growth process.
Once you have identified these beliefs and habits, you can take conscious steps toward replacing them with new ones that will propel your personal growth.
How do you create a long-term change?
We don’t ignite long-term transformation in one day. It takes time and effort. We need to keep our mindsets focused on our end goal—personal growth.
A vital ingredient to making lasting change is to let go of fixed assumptions or ways of doing things and make room for new ideas. We can do this one day at a time. Step by step. It is better to start small and increase little by little, than to do everything at once.
To make a lasting change, you start wherever you are and stretch a tiny bit more each time. If you fall off the wagon, or experience resistance, identify the cause or circumstances—who you were with, where you were, or your emotional state.
The key is to get up and get back on the path again. You may go back and forward a few times because making a lasting change is hard, but eventually you will reach where you want to be.
If everything looks a bit overwhelming to you, but you desperately want a change, apply these three secrets to create a permanent change in your life.
Secret 1—Create clear goals and short-term milestones
Creating a roadmap to success is an essential step in forging lasting growth. Make sure your goals are SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound. The goal should reflect what you want to change and when you want to have accomplished it.
A handy tool to determine your first goal is to use the Wheel of Life. It helps you to see where you are now in the most important areas of your life and to think of where you want to reach in each of those aspects of your life. Pick one or more of those areas, and you have your start!
Build in reasonable milestones along the way so that the end goal doesn’t look daunting. Those milestones are your mini-goals. You’ll feel more encouraged and motivated when you grow closer to achieving each milestone as you work towards your greater goal at the end.
Also, consider what resources you will need and who can help support you with them on your path.
Secret 2—Break it down into actionable steps and track the progress
To stay on track and motivated, set achievable goals. Break these larger goals into smaller, actionable steps. This will help ensure that you are making measurable progress toward your ultimate success and your action is not aimless.
Tracking your progress boosts your motivation and enthusiasm when you witness how much progress you’ve already achieved. Don’t forget to celebrate each time you reached a milestone!
Secret 3—Rely on social support when times get tough
We often think resilience is an individual capacity, but it’s important to remember that we rarely go through life alone. God created us in His image, as social beings. God longs for fellowship with us, in the same way, He placed that desire in us. We don’t have to do things all by ourselves.
Drawing on social support, whether it’s one-on-one conversations with friends, attending church fellowship, or taking part in a support group, can be powerful resources when navigating difficult times and experiences. A strong, supportive network of trusted people leads to better physical and mental health outcomes.
Staying connected to others as you strive for lasting change may help you sustain your efforts over the long run.
How long does it take to make a lasting change?
“When oh when…?” You may ask.
Are you toiling and working but don’t see a change? Don’t worry, forming a new habit takes 28 days on an average. Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time—and effort and endurance. God gave us the strength to do so. We don’t need to be afraid that we can’t make it to the end.
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”Philippians 4:13 (NLT)
God did it before. He will do it again. Take a moment to think about a time in your life when you made a successful change or developed a new habit. What helped you to endure? What was your motivation for the change? What was your attitude at the time? What obstacles or barriers did you have to overcome? And who helped you?
Lasting change is possible. And you can achieve it in a relatively limited period if you put your effort in. What’s important is your motivation. Your level of readiness to change will determine how successful you are and how much time it will take.
You need to be ready, able, and willing to make change happen.
Once you decide to change, you need to practice that new behavior one day at a time until it becomes a habit—a lasting change.