When we start changing our lives we must do it publicly. This may or may not mean announcing the changes we are trying to make, however it does mean living them in front of people. It is easy to have self control when we are not being distracted by peer pressure and advertising. The true test of our willingness to change is when we can act the way we wish to act in moments of anger, in moments of temptation and moments of doubt.
We need to not be ourselves trying to be the person we want to be, but just be that person. When we live our lives trying to be something that we are not we have to constantly keep wasting our will power to change our behaviors. In just being the person we want to be we change our self image, our definition of self and then go into the world and live that new self.
Here is an example: When I went back to school I knew I wanted to be a better student. I could have told myself every day that I needed to go to class, I needed to do the home work every night or I could tell myself I am the kind of person who goes to his classes and does well. In telling myself what to do I would experience resistance, the natural tendency to rebel. When I modified my self image to include being a good student I went to class because that was part of who I was.
This idea of just letting ourselves be who we want to be is not a dismissing of the work it takes to change but instead an internalizing of that change. By changing our belief about who we are the change flows out of us and into our actions as a natural act. When acting the way we want to is our natural way of acting it becomes easier to resist temptation, to live in the world as the person we want to be.
Another example: When I gave up soda it was not the first time I tried. I would tell myself, 'you can't have soda, you can't have soda,' but I would crave it. This last time I no longer denied myself soda but instead began changing my mental image of myself to someone who did not drink soda. As my self-image changed the temptation to drink soda stopped, not because I was strong of will but because it was not natural for me.
We live in the world and we have a limited amount of self control. We need that control to resist the unexpected temptations that life throws at us. If w can change how we see ourselves, how we define ourselves inside our own heads, we can live the changes in our life not by acts of will but by simply being the person we are.