There is no magic pill for change. After working for over a dozen years in the field of personal transformation and development, of this I am certain. If you are looking for a quick and easy answer to your weight problems, your love life, your career path, this is not the blog post for you. If however, you want to know what truly works to make positive, lasting change for your health and life, then read on. I share with you the three hardest, albeit best things that have worked for me and have resulted in more love of life, more success, and more health for me and my clients.
1. Listen to the quiet voice within. At 24 years old, the high-tech startup I worked for was bought by Motorola. Everything was going according to my 10-year plan; a few more years and I’d be in business school meeting the man of my dreams, marrying, popping out 2.2 kids while becoming CEO of a Fortune 500.
But there was the voice within. It kept saying to turn course, “You know you will die a little more every day in corporate America.” I would say back to the voice, but the benefits, the vacation, the salary! And it would say back, stoically, “You will die a little more every day.” As I heard the voice, I pictured myself into the future. The authentic me gone, with only a shell of me left, in an uncomfortable suit, sitting in my cubicle (maybe an office by then), unhealthy, unhappy, and unfilled.
The future was suddenly scarier than the present decision I had to make. So brazenly I ditched the plan, quit my job and went to volunteer at a yoga studio. This voice within is the voice of the subconscious mind. The one that is softer than a subtle whisper, and yet knows fully well the right action to take. At first it is incredibly challenging to even hear the voice within, as the world around us loves to drown it out through other’s expectations of us and our own limiting beliefs. However, once you start listening and acting on what the voice within says, it becomes stronger more knowing.
Every time I have followed the voice within, my life has emerged almost miraculously with outcomes I could never have imagined for myself. When I have ignored it, especially the times it was shouting at the top of its lungs in my mind, and I still ignored it, oh the calamity of consequence. Personal coaching can be an instrumental tool for becoming brave enough to take action on the voice within. Want to know how my decision ended up? Although it may not be a Fortune 500 just yet, I did become CEO — of my own company.
2. Consistent meditation practice. As a yoga teacher, I often tell my students I would give up my physical practice but I would not give up my meditation practice. I knew about meditation from a young age, as my mom, an entrepreneur and mother of four girls, found Transcendental Meditation (TM) as her only bridge to sanity. We all shushed each other when Mom meditated. Heart broken, without a job, and with wrist injuries, I found my way to sit with myself.
Learning to meditate is simple. Doing mediation every day is not. It is one of the hardest things to do, especially when you first start. Who possibly knew that our thoughts were so seductive? Everything shows up in meditation, and I am not talking about unicorns and fairy dust. I am talking about every fear, every doubt, every running thought, every bad idea, and every illusion. And the truth is, there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. I have been meditating every day for the last five years. It is the No. 1 way to become the person that you not only tolerate but deeply love, and with this the way you experience life completely changes. You begin to live with intentional purpose.
3. It’s a process of elimination. If you want a different level of health, to actually feel good when you awake, as you move through your day, and to sleep well, you must look to eliminating the junk from your diet. Forget counting calories or points. We are attached, if not addicted, to food. What I have seen work the best when it comes to changing eating patterns is to make diet changes a process of elimination.
Many years ago, my first battle with addiction was dropping my beloved Diet Coke. This felt like saying goodbye to a dear friend that made me feel “oh so alive.” It was hard to let it go, but I know for certain had I not given it up the quality of my life would have suffered. It would have kept me puffy and full of cravings and toxins. Find your addiction food item and dump it. Go cold turkey. Replace it with a healthy alternative. Unsweetened iced green tea, no sugar and full of antioxidants worked for me, for example. For this strategy to work, you must remove the addiction from your diet for a long period of time, long enough so it no longer strangleholds you. Once you meet success with one addiction go to the next. Some of the major ones that if you conquer will change your body and health forever are: alcohol, refined sugars and flours, coffee, and processed foods. I speak from experience. Want to become conscious in your life and therefore more fit and healthy? Start by removing the junk.
By betting on your voice within and acting on what must change, by starting a daily reflective practice like meditation and by eliminating one toxic substance in your diet, you find you are a person capable of healthy changes. Don’t delay, as Lao Tzu said, “If you don’t change direction, you might end up where you are heading.”
The post originally appeared on The Huffington Post. Be sure to check back for more contributions!