New Year as a Catalyst for Change

New calendars, new schedules, new environments, new phases – these can all be signals that we need a change in our lives. Why not use the New Year as a catalyst for change?

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In order to change anything about yourself, you first need to understand why you want to alter the way things are. What do you need? Does something just need improvement? Does something need to be done a completely different way to avoid a problem? Can things be more efficient? Is there a mental block that has bothered you and it is finally time to work through it?  Analyzing why you want to make a change will help you in your process.

Do some online research. It’s a small world – there are likely other people who have gone through the exact same scenario and have written about it online. What have they done, and is it logical? Learn from their mistakes, and see if copying their process makes sense for you.

For example, there are a million articles on how to start a profitable blog, but I am not interested in money. (Well, of course I am, but that’s not my point for now.) I just want to gain some online traction and attract a steady readership. I had to sift through some of these articles to find tips that were right for me. Some things apply across all platforms, and some don’t.

What are the changes that you want to make? How do you get there? Can you break this down into reasonably small steps?

The more you can make the changes in steps, the better. Reaching a goal or creating a new habit  is always easier if you can do a tiny amount every single day. It creates momentum, it creates positive energy, and it becomes part of who you are now.

Try to make concrete, measurable goals. Something specific so that you will have many moments of throwing your fists in the air and yelling, “I did it!”

Let’s also make sure that your goals are achievable. I don’t mean to be a downer, but you cannot become a doctor within six months. But if that is your dream, you need to start the process immediately. How far can you get in the next 6 months?

It truly helps to record your progress. Even if it is just a little note in your phone where you list a few point form accomplishments everyday, writing things down is part of getting things done.

I will repeat this often, so chant it with me now:
MANIFEST = MAKE A LIST

If you want anything to happen, list out the steps, start doing the steps, finish the project. It is not rocket surgery, it is not a mystery. This is the way the world works. This is the way to jam the square peg of new ideas into the round hole of the human brain, so to speak.

Your mind will fight these changes. Our strangely primitive human brain avoids stress at all costs. The unknown has the potential for danger. Anything that is new or peculiar could be life-threatening, so your mind fights against it.

Think about it – thousands upon thousands of years ago, if primitive man picked some berries, they might be poisonous. If you know for certain that the blue ones are not poisonous, and the red speckled ones might be, you will only eat the tried-and-true blueberries. Why should you take a risk? Why should you expose yourself to something potentially hazardous?

Only what is known is completely safe. So humans instinctively want to remain in a state of calm normalcy. (Another word for this is “boring”.) Our ancestors eventually fought to evolve through very difficult times. Our lives today are relatively easy, so we need to force ourselves to take risks. Trust me – any fruit in the supermarket in North America is safe to eat. Just try something new.

Once you are part way along your journey of transformation, step back and evaluate these modifications. Are your goals still on track? Has anything changed along the way?

For example, if you are trying to increase your visibility in your office environment, to eventually gain more responsibility, has anything else been changing? Perhaps there is a new co-worker to bond with, a new department, or new project where you could really make some progress.

We can never anticipate what will be thrown into our path, so we will have to step over obstacles along the way. Stay realistic, stay grounded, and stay on track. Revise your list of steps anytime you need to. Check in weekly to make sure you’re still progressing. Make a calendar event in your phone to remind you.

If there are any missteps or failures along the way, that means you are making progress. Good for you! What did you learn through these little mistakes? We need to be patient with ourselves as we grow. Again, change is not natural. Our systems fight it.  We need to be kind while kicking our own butts. It is a tricky balance.

No growth is possible without a little stress, a little uncertainty. It is worth it! Do you want to be an interesting person who accomplishes goals? Of course you do. Now make a plan, and do it. Use this New Year as a catalyst for change – whatever changes in yourself, your life, your environment that you think you need.

 

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