To achieve our life goals, we must often change our behavior. This is not easy to do because our behavior never lies. It is always a reflection of what we believe to be true about ourself.
Your behavior shows how you think, how you talk about yourself even when no one’s around, and what you do every single day. Who you really think you are is not found in what you say, but by what you do.
So how do you change those behaviors that don’t accommodate the goals you have set?
It can be difficult to monitor our own behavior because it’s easy to fall into ruts and unhealthy patterns. Today I will share three measuring sticks you can use to help you develop behaviors that are a better reflection of your true self so you can then achieve the goals you have set.
1. Are You Consistent? Being able to count on someone is a very important quality. People who show up on time, are faithful and steady are indispensable. We know that we can always count on them. They don’t have explosive temperaments and although they may be far from perfect, their emotional reactions to things are mostly predictable.
By contrast, I’m sure you know people who aren’t so consistent. They are forgetful, have unpredictable emotional reactions and being in their presence can be like walking on egg shells at times. The people in their wake often have to pick up the pieces after them.
To become a more consistent person, only commit to things if you know you will be able to follow through. Show up on time for appointments. Before you react to a situation, take several deep breaths and really think about what you are going to say. Develop routines so that you aren’t doing your work and tasks each day in a scattered way. Consistency is key.
2. Do You Keep Your Promises? Someone who is consistent will also keep their promises. Just as important as keeping the promises you make to other people are the promises you make to yourself.
I like to use the word “promise” instead of “goal” because it’s easy to ignore a goal or shrug your shoulders if you don’t meet your goal. It’s harder to break a promise because we hold promises in higher esteem. A promise is more personal than a goal. If you make a promise to yourself, it’s like a pact and you will be more hesitant to break it. For example, if someone really wants you to attend a special party that’s important to them, they might say, “Do you promise to be there?” They wouldn’t say, “Did you put this event on your To Do list?”
Start out by making small promises that will be easy to keep. Then stretch yourself to include promises that will make you have to work hard. For example, when I suffered from severe backache for months at a time and couldn’t walk to the end of my driveway, I made a promise to myself that I would one day climb Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro. And by fulfilling several other smaller promises along the way, I finally got well enough and trained hard enough to achieve this seemingly “impossible” promise!
3. Are You Transparent When Dealing With Others? Transparency doesn’t mean sharing all your opinions and negative thoughts with everyone else, but it means that you have self-awareness. Transparency is what enables you to create trust with others. Someone who is transparent is also able to show empathy.
After her death, letters of Mother Theresa that she wrote to her superiors and other nuns were made public. These writings revealed that she had self-doubts and even doubts about her faith at times. As her fame increased, her doubts increased. She said the smile she wore in public was a mask.
But far from diminishing the case for making her a saint, these letters only strengthen it because they give a window to her authentic self. Because she was honest about her struggles, she was able to behave more authentically. Even if she had doubts, her behavior was always the behavior of a saint. Imagine if her letters had been full of boasting and puffery. She surely wouldn’t have behaved in the self-sacrificing way she did. Behavior never lies.
This is why I encourage you to keep a daily journal. You can use a computer document or a private blog nobody else will see instead of a notebook, if you prefer. This can be the place where you are completely transparent. It will help you to behave more authentically. Also, it will be easier for you to show empathy if you have this space where you are completely transparent with yourself. The struggles of others will never surprise you because you’ll be more aware of how you’ve struggled in the same way.
Fortunately, what you believe to be true about yourself can change over time. If you have some negative beliefs right now, becoming more consistent, more able to keep promises and more transparent will help you think more positively of yourself. Any negative behaviors you have right now are simply because of your beliefs about yourself. It’s not because you are a bad person. Put these three principles to work and before long your behavior will more authentically reflect your true self.