Just yesterday evening while heading home, the radio jingle for a very popular annual event (in Lagos, Nigeria) came on air. The announcer promised that it would be “one day to change your life forever”. I believe he was just trying to sell the event to his audience so I wouldn’t take his words literally.
But really, could that be how some of us see life? We probably believe being at that event, listening to that speaker, experiencing that moment, being in that atmosphere will cause a change so dramatic that it instantly alters our lives in very radical ways. We’re searching for that elusive instant change
“Change”, they say, “is the only permanent thing”
It’s always happening- whether we realise it or not. We may not see how, or be able to exactly articulate what has happened. But it happens.
As much as change seems inevitable, it gets hard when we try to make the process deliberate. You know what I’m talking about, right?
and many other conscious attempts to change our lives have all gone the same way- down the drain pipe of good intentions. You know how we attend great events – we get all fired up, ready to take on the world, all alone if necessary. We feel that strong sense of hope and resolve- THIS time, it’ll really work out.
Then the event ends.
Real life resumes; where everyday is NOT charged with clever statements and goosebumps-making stories. Matter of fact, most days pass as regular.
Few weeks later, all the enthusiasm generated evaporates and the change you ‘felt’ dies before it ever really starts. Years slip by and the only real changes in your life are the meagre crumbs life throws your way occasionally. Deep down, you know you’re short changing yourself (no pun intended). You could have done more. Changed more.
How do we break this cycle? How do we incorporate genuine and lasting change into our lives? How can we make it stick? Today’s blog shares a few simple, practical and powerful ideas on how to keep it going long after the goosebumps have subsided.
1. Go beyond “what”. Find “how”.
My personal beef with most ‘motivational speakers’ is the passion with which they share what you can do, what you ought to do, and leave it there. It’s all rich in inspiration and motivation but lean on direction and strategy for execution. It’s like being told you won a trip to a beautiful island resort but you’re left clueless on how to get there.
You’re stuck on the adrenaline treadmill till you eventually burn out and revert to business as usual. So much for changing your life.
Without the ‘how’, the ‘what’ soon becomes a source of guilt and frustration, a bitter reminder of what you could have become – if only you knew how.
So how do you find the ‘how’ when nobody seems ready to hand it to you?
You THINK it out. You take the ‘what’ and examine it intensely with respect to your unique circumstances. It will not be a quickie exercise. Thinking takes time. But the strategies, the ‘how’ you’ll eventually turn up with will be worth the effort.
Here’s how you can tell you’ve found the ‘how’ – a small series of sharply defined ACTIONS that were generated directly from within you, not some workbook or webpage.
2. Fix it into your DAILY life.
The secret is in being able to inject those new ideas into your everyday life such that you get to repeat them as often as possible. The more we do things, the more they feel natural to us. We are creatures of habit. Flash over what you’ve learned lately. How has it affected your daily routine? If it hasn’t, uhmm. ..maybe you didn’t really learn it, you learned about it.
Change is rarely a one-time thing. It’s a process, a process of replacing old habits and patterns. No singular event can make that change. It may spark it up, but the flames will only be sustained by what we do DAILY.
If it hasn’t affected your daily life, change isn’t happening yet.
It’s that simple. But no one can integrate these new ideas for you. That’s your job.
Let’s say you’ve learned about goalsetting and you want to make the change to become a habitual goal setter (and getter of course). How do you go about this?
Fix it into your life by setting daily goals. Start
small tiny. Develop short lists of things you plan to accomplish each day. Even when you don’t get it all done, still set some for the next day. This way, you’re training you mind to eventually start working on bigger goals that ultimately shape your life. It’s simple, very practical, not exactly easy, but very doable.
The secret of a changed life is found in its daily agenda.
3. Be generous. Share with friends.
Friendships change us- most times without our consent or awareness. The people we hang out with wield incredible power over our habits and attitudes.
You and your friends are constantly influencing yourselves. It’s unspoken, absolutely non-dramatic, but it IS happening all the same. You only realise how much you’ve changed AFTERWARDS. Recently, I was shocked to catch myself gesticulating just EXACTLY like one of my friends. I was so stunned I paused right in the middle of a sentence to look at my hands. What am I doing? I don’t usually consider myself so prone to influence- you probably don’t either. But it happens. It’s how we are wired.
If friendships are so powerful, how about you deploy that power in establishing positive changes in your life?
*Pause. Read that question again. *
Share your new discoveries with your friends. ‘Infect’ them. Let them know what you’re learning and the changes you’re making. Give them permission to check on you time and again. This does two things for you. It brings in accountability (very important in the change process) and reinforces your conviction to carry through the decision.
4. Review frequently.
Forgetting is so easy we don’t even need to try. That’s why frequent review is important.
May I suggest that you keep a journal. Probably not a log of your daily activities but a collection of salient lessons and experiences. These are milestones, markers along this journey called your life.
Reading and asking questions exposes us to what others know. Personal journals show us what we know (but probably have forgotten!). Those journals will come in handy on days you feel like quitting.
A personal journal can be a dream saver.
Few things inspire (and sometimes accuse!) as sharply as re-reading your words of commitment to a process. And sometimes, all you need is that push from your own words staring right back at you.
Think out the ‘how’. Fix it in daily. Share it freely. Review frequently.
Thsee are my
two cents four kobos on this subject but the list is by no means exhaustive. What do you think should have been included? Your words of wisdom are welcome. I’ll so love to read your comments on this. Thanks for stopping by today.
Live by Design.