New Year’s Resolution or Lasting Change
December 30, 2013
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For as long as I can remember New Year’s Eve has always left me with a bittersweet feeling. I always pictured this cartoon version of the passing year with big white gloves and shoes like Mickey Mouse, saddened and slouched over a suitcase, packing all the year’s memories. It just reminds me time is a precious gift. Many people look back on the year and reflect on all things, good and bad. But it’s the changes and goals that haven’t been achieved that make it so hard to let go of the year passed. And for just a little while, despair and disappointment grab hold and dampen the holiday spirit. Then the clock strikes midnight and in a whirlwind the New Year comes running in all bright and shiny. With one swift kick, the old year flies high into the air and lands far away in the past and we are renewed with hope and vigor that this year we will keep our New Year’s Resolutions. As you prepare for the coming New Year, here are five tips for making this your year for change.
- Approach change with curiosity. So often people approach change like a battle. They give themselves pep-talks and tell themselves, “I will not go down in defeat.” They struggle with fear; fear of failing, fear of the unknown, fear of the departure from what once was, and soon they wave the white flag and surrender to old ways. Instead, identify small tasks that will help you meet your goal and ask yourself, “I wonder…” You’ll be less focused on your actions and more focused on the results. “I wonder how many phone calls I will get if I mailed out 100 postcards to these vacant property owners.” “I wonder how many offers I will make before I find a seller that will take my offer.” “I wonder if I will miss watching television if instead I researched properties in probate for the next 2 weeks.” Don’t be focused on good or bad, just be curious and see what happens. All of sudden, you’ll find yourself in a different place and making headway without even realizing you were working on making a change.
- Why Wait? Often times we set an arbitrary start date for implementing change. Isn’t that exactly what we do with our New Year’s Resolution? And we know what happens to those. We even do that down to the simple tasks that help us meet our overall goals, telling ourselves we will do it later or tomorrow. Thomas Jefferson once said, “Never put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do today.” We spend so much time justifying why we can’t do something and then feeling guilty and disappointed for not doing it. Why not take that energy and just get it done? Next time you catch yourself saying I’ll do it later, either do it now, or assign a due date for when you will finish a task. Later is too broad of a time frame to hold yourself accountable.
- Keep inventory of your priorities. It’s difficult to achieve a goal when your priorities are not aligned. So often I meet people who want to change something in their lives, but they put the thing they dislike and want to change first. For example, they want to quit their job and become a full-time real estate investor. Then they put the job first and the tasks needed to be an investor last on the priority list, using the age-old excuse, “I don’t have time.” Well, if you want to make changes, you don’t have time not to make it a priority. Remember our story of the old year packing its bags? In 168 Hours: You Have More Time than You Think, Laura Vanderkam suggests that instead of saying, “I don’t have time…” say, “It’s not a priority…” If you feel that pang in your stomach, that’s a good indication you need change the order of your priorities.
- Change is a process. It takes four to 6 month to make lasting change and it’s easier to do it with support from others. Hiring a coach or being part of a group geared toward supporting change is a powerful tool to help you make change in your life. Take inventory of your progress. There’s motivation and joy in your successes and lessons in your failures. People often look to their failures as a reason to give up, but failures give powerful feedback for refining the process. You can figure out patterns and situations that specifically lead to failure and learn how to navigate them more effectively.
- Resistance to change is routed in deep subconscious and self-protective places of the mind. As explained in Immunity to Change by Bob Kegan and Lisa Lahey, we are programmed to protect ourselves from harm. We have immune systems and reflexes to protect ourselves from foreign bodies and our mind does as well. When you find it difficult to make changes, you have to look deep within yourself to find the self-protective reasoning. Often times, things from your past have subconsciously taught you not to move forward with change because bad things will happen. In my experience, this often relates back to fears of being alone, of failure, or being an unlikeable person. Once you are aware of the drive that is limiting you, it’s much easier to start to overcome it. For example, if you are having trouble making phone calls, imagine yourself making a phone call and try to tap into the fear you feel when doing that. Let’s pretend you are afraid you’ll say the wrong thing and they will think you are stupid and hang up on you and ultimately you’ll feel like a failure. Now that could happen, but you now have to ask yourself, “Does that really mean that I am stupid and a failure?” Of course not! We all make mistakes. Once you are aware of these rules your mind has subconsciously created, it is so much easier to overcome.
So as the clock ticks on towards the New Year take these tips and turn your New Year’s Resolutions into Lasting Change.