Transformation requires work. We all know that. Years ago I read that to realize change, we need to start doing some things and stop doing others to get us to where we want to be.
Transformation requires these 2 “doings” – START and STOP
If you want to transform an area of your personal and/or work life, you will need to START doing something new, in different ways. Why? As I wrote last time, if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten. So, transformation requires that we START to do something new – the CHANGE.
If you want, for example, more energy, lose weight, and improve the overall sense of health in your life, you can START doing something new by:
- Drinking more water.
- Get regular exercise.
- Choose healthier food options.
- Visit your doctor on a regular basis.
But in order to improve your health, you will most likely need to STOP doing things that will hinder this goal:
- Stop drinking soda pop.
- Stop eating junk food throughout the day.
- Stop going through the drive-thru lane at a local fast food restaurant multiple times per week.
- Stop plopping yourself in front of the TV for hours each evening.
So on this 2nd day of the new year, think about where you need transformation. Write it down. Next, create a 2-column list and write as headings START DOING and STOP DOING. Fill out each column. This list is not a wish list. It is a doing list. If you think you’ll waiver on this, share your list with a friend who can help with accountability (in fact, why not ask a friend or two to do this along with you).
We can tend to think of transformation as some sort of dramatic life event that will catapult us to a new level. Maybe in the movies, but in the real world, transformation takes planning, determination, work, and intention.
And it can be as simple as this:
START doing the things that will move you closer to what you want to be, achieve.
STOP doing the things that put up obstacles on the road to your transformation
Day after day…month after month…year after year it is the same. You keep doing the same things in your life and yet you wish things were different.
“Why can’t I lose weight?” “Why didn’t I get that promotion?”
“Why do I feel stuck financially?” “Why isn’t my relationship with my kids better?”
Deep down inside, we already know the answer. We have not seriously changed anything to help us realize our goals/dreams. We have not been transformed.
I hear this lament all the time from family and from coworkers. I’ve seen people struggle with “getting ahead” in so many arenas in life yet they keep behaving the same as they always have. They keep believing as they always have. They keep thinking as they always have.
Yet they expect different results.
How do I know this? I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about this. And I have personally struggled with this. We all have.
Why? Why have we all struggle so? Why can’t we seem to “get off the dime” and really experience change in our lives – change that we truly want to see happen?
“If you always do what you’ve always done…”
Our “doing” – our habits – have us right where we are. Right, our habits (a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up) have set the program by which we live our lives. We have so regularly practiced something…
- Making unhealthy food choices
- Putting off exercise
- Dragging our feet on innovating at work
- Not taking the initiative to deepen a relationship
…that it is now “settled”…it marks who we are. We don’t like it. We want to be different. But habits are “hard to give up”.
So what can we do? Note: the dictionary definition of a habit states they are hard to give up – not impossible. In other words, it is entirely POSSIBLE to change a habit to make it work FOR you and not against you.
Dr. Shad Helmstetter teaches that we can re-program our mind to think more positively by merely repeating new thoughts consistently.
“In logical progression, what we believe determines our attitudes, affects our feelings, directs our behavior, and determines our success or failure:
- Programming creates beliefs.
- Beliefs create attitudes.
- Attitudes create feelings.
- Feelings determine actions.
- Actions create results.”
This works for both negative thoughts and positive thoughts. Both thoughts follow this progression.
So, if you want to transform how you think, for example, you have to change your programming – those thoughts which you allow into your mind.
The same is true for our health. If we eat unhealthy food, we will become unhealthy. A steady diet of junk food will not result in a healthy body. We were not created this way. “Garbage in, garbage out.”
So much has been written about habits. I would encourage you to read about habits, their power, and how you can truly make effective changes in your life. I recommend the following books:
- High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
The thoughts these authors share will change your life. They really will. But not by merely reading. It will be in the doing.
If you feel stuck…if you feel hopeless…if you struggle…if you are disgusted you are where you are…CHANGE YOUR HABITS, CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
TRANSFORMATION happens through effective habits. Jeff Olson, author of The Slight Edge, says that true change happens – not in huge dramatic moments – in the everyday effort of moving closer to our goals. More to come on this.
Look at your habits. Looks at your goals. If your current habits do not move you towards what you want, change them. Every day, change them.
There may be a thousand little choices in a day. All of them count.
Dr. Shad Helmstetter
This is a guest post from Alex Sal from New York.
Healthy habits and projects have life-changing potential. Both help to accelerate the process of achieving virtually all your goals because they require self-discipline, which is a quality that can be applied in all facets of life. In addition to this (as if that were not enough) healthy habits and projects also help reduce stress. And, who does not need to reduce stress?
After all, we all live in a fast-paced, highly demanding, stressful age. It’s an epoch where a multitude of demands are being made on our time, and we have a plethora of choices. Sadly, time is finite. You can’t increase it. But, you can manage yourself better by inserting healthy habits and projects into your daily rituals. The truth is that many people struggle with this – they’re easily distracted.
It’s your lucky day, if you sit a spell with me, we’ll explore how to focus on ritualizing healthy habits and projects?
So, let’s focus on the task at hand. Let’s take a step back and ask ourselves what it means to focus. It’s quite simple, really, to focus on something means “to pay particular attention” to it.
The following are a few proven strategies:
- Leverage visualization and planning
- Use the power of frequency
- Destroy distractions
- Track your progress
1) Leverage visualization and planning
Visualization and planning are superpowers if you’d like to easily ritualize healthy habits and projects. You’d need to start by consciously creating new patterns. At first blush, visualization feels a tad like daydreaming, and some people may dismiss it. The truth is that there’s scientific evidence to show that it’s effective.
Consider that everything that manifests in our lives starts in our minds as pictures. When we visualize, we’re steering our attention in a particular direction. The images we generate can be so powerful they feel like virtual reality. When this is done regularly, and coupled with planning, inserting healthy rituals become easier because we’re engaging both parts of our brains to harness and direct where our energies flow. Planning makes it easier because we are providing clear instructions to ourselves.
Visualize your path and don’t let the concept of failure get in the way.
2) Use the Power of Frequency
Have you ever wondered how you could easily recall your favorite songs? It’s due to the power of repetition. It’s very easy for what we repeat to stick. The more we try to do those things the more we’re building neural pathways that make it easy to reproduce them with ease in the future. When you repeat your goals, you’re telling your brain your priorities. As you know, prioritization is a fundamental ingredient for being able to focus.
So, consciously block out time on your calendar for healthy habits and projects. Set reminders on your computer, tablet and mobile phone. Create posters with reminders and put them in different parts of your office and home. Create musical triggers – you could select 3 of your favorite classical recordings and mentally associate them with three major habits and projects you’re trying to insert into your life. Ideally, you want music that’d galvanize you. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” is a great example. So, each time you hear this song, for example, you’d know it’s time to go jogging or time to start writing that manuscript that you’ve been putting off since the 80s.
3) Eliminate Distractions
If we are honest, a lot of people know what to do, to ritualize healthy habits and projects. Distractions are what many struggle with. In fact, most of us struggle with it. Just as we can consciously create new patterns, we must consciously avoid, reduce, or destroy those things that lure us away from a more evolved version of ourselves.
It could be television, it could be social media, it could be binge-watching movies…It’s actually relative. A scriptwriter, for example, may need to be watching a lot of movies. We need to realize how vital the concept of opportunity cost is. The time we spend on X, is the same time that could have been spent on Y. Let’s suppose Mr. M wants to be a software developer or work in organization design consulting but spends most of his time on activities that do not move him towards his goal. What’s likely going to happen to his dream of being a software developer? It’s the same for us. We must consciously and regularly ask ourselves if our activities are fuel for our main goals or if they’re subtly and slowly killing them.
4) Track Your Progress
It’s important to regularly compare our realities to what we visualized. If at the beginning of the year, you envisioned a fitter and healthier you, and every month you use an app to check some of your activities and stats – if you’re on the right track – this will serve as a stimulus for you to continue on the path. It would serve as positive reinforcement for you to accentuate your focus on ritualizing healthy habits and projects. You would find it easier to be fixated on the healthy habits – the record of your progress will be highly motivating – because at the end of the day, leaders take their time but leaders light a fire.
We’ve explored some of the strategies to help you focus on ritualizing healthy habits and projects. Interestingly, it’s not difficult. It all starts with making a firm choice. It starts with envisioning a better you.
What are the main challenges you experience when trying to focus?
Alex Sal is a business journalist, startup entrepreneur, and frequent contributing writer for Markitors.com. He is also a recent graduate of economics from Queens College.
In his new book, High Performance Habits, Brendon Burchard speaks about seeking clarity in Habit 1. I shared this exercise with my Emerging Leader group yesterday. I thought you might like to read this as well:
- Describe (write it down) how you’ve perceived yourself in the following situations over the past several months – with your significant other, at work, with the kids or your team, in social situations with strangers.
- Now ask, “Is that who I really see myself being in the future?” How would my future self look, feel, and behave differently in those situations? (note: think about how your future self would want to interact in ways that you would be proud of)
- If you could describe yourself in just 3 aspirational words – words that would sum up who you are at your best in the future – what would those words be? Why are those words meaningful to you? Once you find your words, put them in your phone as an alarm label that goes off several times per day.
I worked through this exercise myself. I jotted down several things and finally landed on my 3 aspirational words. I created a calendar event that displays these 3 words at 5:45 am, 1:00 pm and 9:00 pm every day.
Already, there are many times when I see those words and I am reminded to be my best and do my best to act out on these words. It works. What a great reminder.
Try it. In fact, order the book and start working your own high performance habits (link to the book is provided above). Begin working on becoming better. You will not regret it.
by Jim Johnson
Over the past few months, I’ve developed and introduced a new initiative to my team. I lead a great team who is responsible for: a call center, eServices (online/phone lending), fraud, card admin, deposit operations, online account opening, etc.). We are calling this initiative the “Challenge to Change”.
What I wanted to do was to show the team how they can impact our bottom line (we call that our Measures that Matter) by adding something to their daily habits/routines. I didn’t want them to stop doing what they should be doing. No, I wanted them to add a simple step – a simple addition that could have significance in hitting our corporate goals.
Our call center, for instance, handles hundreds of calls every day. This team is effective in handling a wide variety of issues. They have been asked to view the customer’s financial profile and determine if this person has a full relationship with us (we are a credit union). Once they look at the profile, they are to ask themselves: “what’s missing?” Even if they see that more than one thing is missing, we have kept it simple. PICK ONE. Then talk about it.
We have created a list of “conversation starters” that assist the call center rep to begin a conversation that will lead to a deeper relationship with us. We are using current technology tools to log this interaction. Our technology can be viewed by anyone in the company and will keep the conversation momentum moving as the customer is in the deciding stage (we don’t assume that the sale will be made on the first attempt – it will take multiple interactions).
Here’s what I’ve learned while developing this initiative:
1. Know what my team is already doing. I spent significant time with team members asking them to show me what they look at when beginning an interaction with a customer. I had them explain (when necessary) what they could see/know from the data available on our core system. I gained valuable information with this step.
2. Understand their routine. Everyone approaches the same job in different ways. I had to discover how my team works. Some take short cuts. Others don’t. Some know their technology tools well. Others? Not so much. But I had to spend time with the team to know what they know and do.
3. Keep it simple. I knew that if I wanted to introduce a new habit, I couldn’t turn their work world upside down. Knowing my team and understanding their routine helped me know when and where to introduce change. It helped me to keep this process simple.
The new process only adds one step in their routine. One step. That’s it.
4. Communicate. I met with my call center 3-4 people at a time. I’m a word-picture guy. I drew charts, pictures, and graphs to lay-out what they do and where the change was going to happen. I asked a lot of questions and listened. I asked for feedback and got it. I made changes to the process based on the feedback. It was critical that we were all on the same page.
We are planning to launch this initiative this month. We have some testing to do with our current technology. We believe it will work and be a great “leading indicator” of our monthly corporate goals. It will drive more business to our branches. It will keep the relationship conversation going.
We didn’t build a complex machine to do this. We’re keeping it simple. We’ll be inspecting what we expect and encourage development and growth as we launch.
Change isn’t always easy. But keeping things simple, understanding the team’s work and process helps change happen.