Making Change Stick

There is no shortage of (accomplished) written material proselytising the originality of one change programme or another. Some go as far as offering a new way of life.

But, how many of us, having read something, make the necessary changes (or any) in our life?

As an example, if you have read 7 Habits or How to Win Friends and Influence People (or anything of a similar paradigm) and thought them more than just worthy tomes, are you living your life according to the writers’ thesis?

The reality is that for most people they don’t need external guidance. They know what they need to do to make them happier, less stressed or more creative.

The point is, if you had complete freedom, would you spend your day as you do, or would you be doing something completely different?

It is important, when thinking this through, to not only suspend the notion that you have to be good at ‘it’, or have to make a living but rather do you have the desire and passion to reconnect with or explore something that you believe would make you happier?

Our inner critic (Resistance as Steven Pressfield calls it) is very often the only thing that is holding us back from change – incremental or otherwise. Just imagine if we could ignore the critic, it only spoke in reassuring ways or, better still, we could turn it off altogether?

In last week’s post, I spoke about positive affirmations. They are a very useful device but you still set up a bargain with the critic where you have to decide who is telling the truth. For me, I have found the only way to change something or give myself the courage to pursue something is to start before I am ready. By that I mean if I think too deeply about something then my left brain, logical self will posit all the reasons not to do something. This doesn’t mean that I go from where I am to where I want to ideally be in one foul swoop. It means pursuing a daily ritual in the direction I want to head. In a way it is no different to sport where you have to practice if you want to get good. And it’s not about focusing on the outcome, but a process┬áof mastery. If all you do is to look for an outcome then what you doing is giving your inner critic the (future) ammunition to say:┬á“I told you so…”.

If all this sounds too metaphysical, then what is it that is stopping you from becoming the most of anything?

Remember also that our lives are not just made inside our careers. To achieve balance, self-fulfillment and to come alive, we need to focus on our family, mental strength, physical well-being, social intelligence, spiritual awakening and financial independence. Too many people get out of whack too easily largely as a result of spending their physical, emotional and metal time at work. It’s not easy – and here is someone who routinely put in 80 hour weeks – but you have to make time for you. And not just occasionally, but every day. You have to discipline yourself to daydream if that doesn’t sound paradoxical.

If you have gotten this far, can I leave you with a short exercise to consider this weekend.

If you had only 24 hours left tomorrow morning how would you chose to spend it?

I am not suggesting that you do everything that you imagine, but why don’t you do one thing that you haven’t done in a very long time without having to feel guilty. It could be to write a letter, draw, speak to someone you haven’t been in contact for a while or just hang out at your favourite place. I know it won’t be easy. There will be all sorts of reasons not to do it, but try to think of the experience rather than the time component.

In my case, I know that the more time I give myself to acknowledge the critic and find ways to deal with the often negative voice, the more alive I feel.

– Julian


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