Make change happen.
During graduate school, one of the comments I most frequently heard from different professors was the line, “Change is a mystery.” At the time, it seemed so philosophical and wise. In retrospect, it just sounds like complete nonsense generally uttered by those who now appear to have fled the real world for the safety of teaching.
Even back those eighteen to twenty years, change wasn’t any sort of mystery. We already had a decade and a half of research on how people change and how to harness those fundamentals to create personal, relational and career change. And, we knew exactly how so much of what passes as common wisdom and motivational speaking actually prevents change from happening and/or lasting.
And, all of that is even less of a mystery today.
Let’s look at some fundamentals of how you create change:
Don’t set goals:
I can’t stress this enough. The moment you set a goal, you create a condition of failure. You try, fail and then try again until you finally reach the goal. Then, you enjoy it for a whole thirty seconds before raising the bar and returning to that failure state. Goal setting is an attempt to motivate yourself through constant negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement does work – but it does so at an extreme cost to motivation and it fundamentally alters how you see yourself over time.
Successful people understand that people generally do and become who they think they are. If you create constant failure situations, you will come to see yourself as a failure and live accordingly. If you create constant success conditions, you start to see yourself as capable and competent. It’s not a question of thinking happy-thoughts. It’s a question of how you organize and direct your world.
Instead, define and set a crystal-clear direction:
The conscious mind does not need a goal – but it does need a direction to travel in and a path to explore or vision down. A lot of what most people experience as internal resistance is really nothing more complicated then a simple lack of clarity about what direction they are going in and why.
Get your emotions engaged:
God gave us our imaginations for many reasons – one of the most important of them is the creation of desire and passion by way of visioning. The stronger the desire and passion and the more vivid and intense the vision, the longer lasting the motivation will be.
But, let’s face it, motivation only lasts for so long – and then it fades. Motivation is, at best, a precious commodity and no one should never function on the assumption that they still will be motivated tomorrow. Instead, use that precious energy of motivation to create and implement systems that will carry you through times of low motivation, low energy and even the inevitable feelings of frustration and depression that usually come when the going gets tough.
The most successful transitions are usually marked by intensive and intelligent work to change the situation wherein change is to occur. For example, the desire to get in shape can be much more easily accomplished if you use your short-lived motivation to give up your current parking spot located right beside your office and rent one a five block walk further away.
Successful people focus on their systems and celebrate every time they successfully use those systems. Doing so creates the opposite effect that goal setting does – it shapes your self image into one defined by success and competency. Then, when you make and retain a micro improvement in one of those systems, you can also celebrate the power to change!
Don’t just celebrate your successes – reward yourself for them as well. Design those systems with small, healthy rewards that make the journey worth taking and which point towards your hope of a better life marked by lasting change!
For over seventeen years, we’ve been helping people with relationship, family, career and personal change – contact us today to see how we can help you!