4 Steps (PLUS One Preferred One) to Making Important Changes
Although many will be surprised to read this, if there is one thing I have learned over time is that if given an opportunity to procrastinate, I will take it on important things. My first book took 15 years to write. I file for extensions for my taxes. I arrive on time but at the last minute for many things.
I have been working on a model for making changes in my behavior and my aspirations. It includes Simon Sinek’s breakthrough question and a few ideas that have coalesced with time. I don’t believe this model is useful unless you are working on something important to you. Otherwise, it will feel like another item on your to do list.
It will start with the courage to change and the willingness to pay the price to make change. After all, if it was easy to do, you would have done it already. Obviously, there is something blocking you, some emotional boogeyman that interferes with you taking the necessary steps.
Ah! You think you can trump that all with the “I don’t have time” card. That is one of the classic lies we tell ourselves. After all, if I told you that when you finished the project or accomplished what you wanted to, I would present you with a check for $25 million, almost everyone would find the time. We just make choices to fall prey to our fears or inertia.
Here’s what I want you to do:
Step 1. Answer this question: What do you want to be?
I don’t care what you want to do. I want you to think about what you want to be. The “doing” will follow if you can remember how to dream again.
Step 2. Sinek’s big question . . . Why?
Why do you really want to do that? Writing my first book was important because I wanted to overcome a fear I had of writing a book and being seen as an author. Why do you want to do? What’s so important to you about this?
If you are like most people, once you start thinking about why you are procrastinating about this, you will touch on the fear boogeyman towering over the entire effort, sitting on your shoulder screaming in your ear. The lesson we have to learn here is that the voice in your head is a liar. It is scared that you may fail so it proactively sabotages you into failure so your excuse is built in.
Step 3. Do something to move the needle this week.
Do something to advance yourself in the direction you aspire. If need be, put it into your calendar. It can be 5 minutes or 30 minutes or 2 hours. Just do something. The ideal approach is to do something daily. Think about it. If you wrote for 30 minutes daily, you would be investing 182 hours annually to writing a book. If you wrote for one hour, it is the equivalent of 2 and a half weeks invested in your book, movie or fitness regime.
Step 4. Review how you did.
I want you to do a review where you see how you did and review it without any judgement or accountability. Did you do what you set out to do or did life get in the way as it sometimes does. What could you have done differently? Did the boogeyman win this week? What tactics could you have used to get things done that you wanted to do, instead of succumbing to the boogeyman and it’s fear.
I made the point of saying to do your review without “accountability.” Accountability is something that has been weaponized by school and business into something that feels like punishment.
“You didn’t finish your homework; you lose 50% of your grade on day 1. Another 50% on day 2 and get a zero on day 3.” Ouch!
You didn’t finish the project we charged you with doing (without any input from you) on time or within budget. Your salary increase, review and, perhaps, even your job are now at risk as a result of your failure. That is the corporate version of accountability.
Drop accountability from your personal vocabulary. It feels like punishment because you have been trained to think of it as sitting in a police precinct with bright lights shining in your eyes going through an inquisition that feels accusatory.
Just conduct a review and see how you did and what you learned from it. Do it both when you are doing well AND when you aren’t. You are learning something under both circumstances.
I promised you one optional step in the process, yet it is probably the hardest one for most adults to do. That’s why I ask you to think of it as optional
Step 5. See if you can have some fun (or introduce the spirit of play into the activity) while doing it.
From the time we got into the school system, “the fun” has been ground out of us. “This is serious! It will count for 50% of your grade! This will affect your ability to (get into college/get a good job/keep your job/avoid being fired)” Is it any wonder that many of us (particularly you men) stopped laughing years ago.
I don’t know how it was for you but when I was small and before I was beaten into submission by “The Evil Twins” (school and work), I used to laugh a lot more and feel good. I also got a lot done and learned a lot, too. Try having fun or playing while doing it each week.
Yet it starts with courage . . . the courage to change. Courage will require that you be authentic with your true nature, being of service to the world by sharing your true gifts and talents, truthful about who you really are, share your heart and be effective.
If you struggle doing this, hire a coach to help you.
A lifetime is not a long time. Time is running out for you in this life. Let’s get into the arena.
© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC 2017
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked in recruiting for what seems like one hundred years. He is the head coach for NoBSCoachingAdvice.com. He is the host of “The No BS Coaching Advice Podcast,” “No BS Job Search Advice,” and “Job Search Radio.”
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