-- "Good Morning America" contributor Tory Johnson assumed everything would be perfect once she lost 62 pounds, but soon discovered that life doesn't work that way. Applying the same principles and focus she used to shed the weight, she turned inward and set out to transform and invigorate herself.
Johnson shares her journey and the easy and practical ways she's been able to find the positive in her new book, "Shift for Good: Simple Changes for Lasting Joy Inside and Out," on sale today. Read below for her simple ways to say goodbye to negativity, tap into your confidence and find lasting happiness, plus read on for five bonus steps from Johnson to "shift for good."
Let's banish "if only" and shift for good.
For so long I believed that “if only” I lost weight, everything would be perfect. But once I managed to do the impossible -- lose 80 lbs. and keep it off over time -- I discovered that life doesn’t work that way. Each goal has its own wonderful rewards, but there's no E-ZPass to lasting joy and deep contentment.
There’s so much we are faced with that can derail us, leave us crying 24/7 and resign us to misery. I know this to be true after career disappointments, my dad’s early death and the financial mess it left my mom, and now an empty nest after my babies are off to college. We can’t allow unavoidable challenges to rob us of a happy, content life. That's no way to live. I decided to shift for good -- to focus on always trying to make today better than yesterday.
1. Banish “if only.” Too often we delay our happiness by saying, if only I lost weight, if only I had a better spouse, made more money, lived in a different city -- fill in the blank. “If only” is a crutch that prevents us from doing what it takes to go after that we really want.
2. Start each day with positive intentions. What we tell ourselves -- what we choose to believe about our abilities -- is powerful. Do you choose to dwell in negativity or are you option for strength and grace? Need an extra boost to rock your confidence? Wear red underwear -- it’s your hidden superpower for extra strength.
3. Make smart choices daily. Change happens over time because we take consistent action daily. For example, when losing weight I cut carbs and ate less. Pickles have been my safe go-to snack, while applying top coat nail polish prevents me from late-night binging. Wet nails keep my hands out of a bag of chips. If your goal is to save money or reduce debt, before every purchase, ask yourself: preference or priority? The immediate preference is to buy that shirt, but your long-term priority is to save. Priority wins each time when you pause to actually think about it. Want to find a new job? It won’t appear on its own, so you must take a step each day in your search.
4. Practice daily calm. Creating moments of stillness contribute to our happiness. I learned how to meditate, which I do twice a day. I also discovered the joys of acupuncture -- nothing like needles to keep you still and quiet. Take a 10-minute break away from your devices mid-day. Nobody is too busy to step away for just 10 minutes to refresh your head. (Bonus if it’s near water or a park.)
5. Release negative energy. Don't allow negative thoughts to take over your day, week or more. As corny as it may sound, when my mood is too negative, I grab a balloon and I imagine releasing those thoughts as I blow up that balloon. It helps when making a cognitive shift.
6. Give regularly to others. For years I focused all of my volunteer efforts during the holiday season. When I remembered how good it felt to give, I decided to make it a regular habit, not an occasional act. Find a cause you care about and get involved. Or consider mentoring someone at work who’s struggling or could benefit from your support.
7. End each day with a silent celebration. At bedtime, it's so easy to recall all the stuff you forget and all that went wrong and everything that awaits you tomorrow. That doesn’t help you with a good night’s sleep. Instead, at bedtime ask yourself, “What went right today?” Focus on the little things that made you smile and vow to have more of that tomorrow.
We all have the power to make today better than yesterday. I hope you'll join me on this lifelong journey to SHIFT FOR GOOD.
Web Extra: Five Steps to Shift for Good
Ask yourself these questions to make change in your life. Take a few days (or more) to develop candid answers since this forms the foundation for finally getting what you want. This is the method I used to lose 62 pounds in a year—and even more since then. It’s also my method to shift for good in other areas.
Step One: How fed up are you, really?
Are you finally sick of the way things are now? When you’re at the point where the pain of the present outweighs the pain and sacrifice that change demands, you’re ready to make a shift.
Step Two: What are you willing to give up?
Big change requires big sacrifice. There’s no way around it. If you want to shift for good, nothing can be more important than tackling your goal. You must be willing to give up things that are near and dear to you—including certain behaviors—if you want to succeed. You must be ready to commit fully; be willing to accept the shift as an all-or-nothing deal, as hard as it sounds. And it is hard, but it gets easier to live with over time.
Step Three: What’s your plan?
There’s no winging it if you’re serious about making a significant life change. You need to establish clear, concise rules in order to eliminate ambiguity. Make a simple plan for how you’re going to take on your issue. (My plan for losing weight was simple: Eat less, choose better, move more. But it’s how I stuck to that every hour, every day, week after week, for months and then years is what made this time different from every single failed attempt for 40 years before.) Step Four: What’s your daily accountability?
It’s easy to slip up when nobody’s looking. It’s also possible to fool yourself into thinking that you’re on track when you’re not. Take a moment to review each day to see which emotions and attitudes reigned: calm or panic, happiness or anger, joy or joyless? If you consistently practice the action steps you outlined in your plan, odds are you’ll see and feel results. Progress begets progress, which makes daily accountability important.
Step Five: How will you develop patience and celebrate your victories?
It’s hard to go from panic to perfect overnight, no matter how much we want it to work that way. A journey toward wholeness takes time. To stay motivated, celebrate teeny victories—with rewards that won’t derail your success.
"Shift for Good" is on sale now in hardcover, ebook and audiobook.