The Three P’s of Change

I was thinking this morning about what it will take for me to rebound from my surgery next week. What it boiled down to was Persistence, Practice, and Patience.

I realized this is true regardless of whether you’re recovering from surgery or illness, working to lose weight, starting a new business venture, or making some other life change.

When we’re finally ready to make a change, we often want it to happen right now. That makes the process very frustrating and fraught with ups and downs. At the very least, this can make the journey unpleasant, and worse can cause us to get so discouraged that we give up on achieving our goal.

So being Persistent is key. Persistence is mostly a mind thing. It’s being determined in the moment to make the decision that will move you towards your goal, rather than choosing the option that will maintain you where you are, or even set you back.

After my surgery, I will need to consistently make the decision to eat healthy foods to give my body the nutrients it needs to heal and recover—and not fall into comforting myself with holiday treats. And I will need to move as much as I can. Not only does the doctor say that walking will speed my recovery, but consistently doing what I can will help keep me in the exercise habit so as I am feeling better it will be easier to motivate myself to get moving.

There are typically some routine actions that have to be Practiced consistently to facilitate making a change. For instance, if we are going to take better care of our teeth we have to consistently practice flossing and brushing morning and night. If we’re losing weight, we have to practice eating healthy foods in moderate amounts and exercising. If we’re starting a new business, we have to practice good bookkeeping and customer service.

There are things we can do to facilitate these regular practices. If we’re dieting we can plan our meals for the week so that we have the right food on hand, stick to a schedule of regular eating, and stay on track with calories. For starting a business we can block out the same time every week and devote it to bookkeeping.

The actions that I want to practice to facilitate my recovery include meditating, eating nutritious meals, walking, and resting.

To facilitate these, I intend to maintain my practice of meditating upon waking. For the past several weeks, my husband and I have made big batches of healthy soups and frozen much of it so that we’ll have easy, nutritious meals on hand. This weekend I also plan to lay in lots of fruit, Greek yogurt, and other healthy snacks that don’t require any preparation.

Apparently they will get me up for my first walk while I am in the hospital, so I have set some minimum goals for myself for walking on the treadmill when I get home. And certainly I plan to enjoy a lot of naps, reading, and movies.

The biggest gift we can give ourselves when making changes is Patience. We need to make peace with the fact that change will not happen overnight. And we may make decisions in the moment that aren’t the best, or we may miss an opportunity to practice some of the actions we set for ourselves. This is normal! One of Bill Phillips’ mantras in his book, “Transformation,” is “progress not perfection.” Change is about consistency, not being perfect. The quicker we can forgive ourselves, the faster we can get back on track.

There are a lot of unknowns about how I’m going to feel after my surgery next Wednesday. Perhaps Thursday I’ll need to sleep all day and I won’t get my planned walk in, or the only thing I’ll feel like eating is toast. That’s OK. While I want to push myself to do those things that will help me recovery quickly, I’m also going to be sensible about it and listen to my body.

Over the weeks of my recovery, I plan to eat some of the lasagna a friend has promised to bring over and I will allow myself to enjoy some holiday treats—in moderation—and I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I am going to strive for consistency, not perfection. By not holding myself to an impossible standard, I’m much more likely to be successful in the long run.

Where could the changes you’re making—or plan to make—stand to have some Persistence, Practice, or Patience? How could using the three P’s make a difference in your success?

Together we can do it!