6 Steps to Successful Personal Change
Every January, people start budgeting, going back to the gym, and putting down their cigarettes.
Because with a new year comes the recognition that we want to change. There is something in our lives that we wish were different.
And yet, according to Forbes, 80% of those who start January with resolve to change will be back into their old habits by February.
Businessman Fred Smith summarized it best when he said, “You are the way you are because that’s the way you want to be. If you really wanted to be any different, you would be in the process of changing right now.”
People often have a hard time changing because they would rather deal with familiar problems than unfamiliar solutions. They are uncomfortable with the symptoms, but not the underlying disease.
How to Start a Powerful Change-Reaction
True, lasting change requires you to recognize the root of your results. Our actions form our outcomes, but those actions are the last step of a six-step process that begins with our thoughts.
1. WHEN YOU CHANGE YOUR THINKING, YOU CHANGE YOUR BELIEFS.
In its first few pages, John Maxwell’s personal growth guidebook Thinking for a Change poses five simple, but powerful, facts about thought:
- Everything begins with a thought. From the clothes you’re wearing to the device you’re reading this on, everything around you originated because someone had a thought.
- What we think determines who we are and who we are determines what we do. It is believed that, on average, people think around 70,000 thoughts each day, an average of about 48 per second. Anything you do with that kind of consistency will affect who you are and how you act.
- Our thoughts determine our destiny and our destiny determines our legacy. Beliefs are nothing more than a byproduct of what you have thought long enough to have bought into – and we can only act according to how we believe.
- People who go to the top think differently than others. That means they believe differently, which inspires them to act differently.
We can change the way we think. That idea is the start of all lasting change.
2. WHEN YOU CHANGE YOUR BELIEFS, YOU CHANGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS.
Henry Ford said, “Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.” In belief, there is power.
Belief is knowledge. If you believe yourself capable, you know you can do something – you understand that you have the ability. With that belief as your background, you expect accomplishment. Without it, you expect failure.
3. WHEN YOU CHANGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS, YOU CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE.
An old man and a young boy once sat by each other on the edge of a river, fishing. The old man would watch the boy catch fish after fish and even marveled at his marked success. But he was confused as he watched the boy take each catch and measure it with his hand. The smaller ones, he would keep; the bigger ones, he threw back.
After a while of catching and releasing, the old man asked him, “Why do you throw the big ones back?”
“Well, sir, I can’t keep the big ones,” the young boy replied. “I only have a 10-inch frying pan.”
What we anticipate affects our ambitions. What big opportunities do we cheat ourselves out of with a limiting outlook?
4. WHEN YOU CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE, YOU CHANGE YOUR BEHAVIOR.
At this step, the intangible becomes tangible. Having the right attitude highlights the importance of every decision. Fortified with a perspective of possibility, you begin to see resources everywhere that support you. Your choices change naturally as a reflection of the changes that have already happened inside you.
5. WHEN YOU CHANGE YOUR BEHAVIOR, YOU CHANGE YOUR PERFORMANCE.
The secret to your success is found in your daily routine. What you do consistently, not occasionally, will impact your results.
As we are trying to change, we make two mistakes…
- We wait for God to change our circumstances.
- We wait for our circumstances to change our behavior.
In both, we are waiting – not taking action – because we want to change when it will be either convenient or natural. But we must make the change in order for it to become natural.
When our behavior changes toward our goal, we raise the level of our performance.
6. WHEN YOU CHANGE YOUR PERFORMANCE, YOU CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
80% of New Year’s resolutions fail because they are interrupting momentum. As our minds and hearts pursue one thing, our actions cannot pursue another. We will move in the direction we are facing with our thoughts.
But when change starts at the beginning, momentum helps you rather than hinders. Thoughts make beliefs, which form expectations, which influence attitude, which initiates behavior, which impacts performance – and what are our lives but the end product of our performance?
Are you on a pathway to personal growth and development?
Surround yourself with empowering influences to guide your thoughts toward growth. The Maxwell Leadership app is free to download and curated with content purposed to help you accomplish your growth goals.
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