We are 2 weeks into the new year, and for some of you, this means that your resolutions have already fallen by the wayside. In many instances the intent is there, and even the desire, but you simply have not created the right environment around you to sustain change.
Let me explain.
I started work last week on giving the office a minor makeover. I began with one of the adjusting rooms. As I was painting I was struck with this thought:
“When you want to institute big change in your life, you essentially need to follow the same steps as a room makeover.”
Here are the steps as I see them:
Step 1: Unload the Room and Strip the Walls Bare
The first step to changing is to remove anything from your life that is triggering your old habit. If you want to quit smoking, toss the cigarettes, give your lighters to a friend for safekeeping, get away from others who smoke. If you are trying to lose weight, pitch the junk food, take a route home that bypasses the fast food drive-thrus, donate your “fat” clothes to Goodwill.
Don’t hold back here. Get drastic! If your goal is worthwhile then it’s going to take a bold first step to set you on the right path.
Step 2: Lay Down the Primer
This is where you get into the proper mental frame of mind. Without the right base coat, the paint won’t “stick” and neither will your new habits. Understand why change is essential and list all of the reasons that it is necessary that you follow through. Be sure to get a crystal clear image of the new you and visualize how your life will be different once your goal is accomplished.
Two great tools for this step are a dreamboard and index cards.
Construct a dreamboard with vivid images of what you are striving for. Clip from magazines, sketch your own pictures, Photoshop yourself with washboard abs…whatever it takes for you to keep a clear image of your goal in mind as often as possible. Display your vision board prominently where you are sure to see it several times a day.
Use index cards, preferably self-stick ones, to write out individual goals. List one goal per index card, and be as specific as possible. For example, “I will lose 15 lbs. by May 1st and reach my target goal weight of 125 lbs.” This is much more powerful than simply saying, “I want to lose weight.” Vague statements mean nothing to your detail-oriented brain.
Once you have your goals listed, stick them to your mirror, nightstand, dashboard, computer monitor, fridge-anywhere you are sure to see them and reinforce them several times a day.
3. Begin the Topcoat
This is when the room is starting to look like something. You are now putting down new color on the walls and new, healthy, productive habits into your life. Odds are that the first coat of paint won’t cover fully, and your first attempt at change won’t be a piece of cake either. The key here is to keep laying down the paint. Keep reinforcing the positive change and soon enough it will become an ingained habit.
If you missed a workout a week into your new plan, don’t let it completely derail you. Allow yourself some lattitude, review your goals and their significance to your life, and then get right back on track tomorrow.
Just keep moving forward.
4. Reload the Room
This is the fun payoff to all of your hard work! This is when you get to add the fancy new accents to your room to complement your new paint job.
When it comes to accomplishing a goal, or producing change in your life, the payoff has to be worth the effort. In reality, when change is essential, the change itself is often more valuable than any reward. But where’s the fun in that?
When setting your goals in step 2 be sure to include something to reward yourself with once your goal is accomplished. It helps to display your reward along with your goals to keep you motivated.
Just make sure that your reward supports your new lifestyle. After dropping 15 lbs., you don’t want to treat yourself to a dozen donuts. A better reward would be a new outfit that shows off your healthy figure.
There’s your simple 4 step formula for making over your life. These are the same basic steps that the most successful people in the world use to accomplish their goals.
Sound too simple? Why isn’t everyone shattering their goals left and right?
It’s not that this system isn’t effective, it’s that people just don’t do it. In fact, it is estimated that only 3% of the population uses a set of written goals on a regular basis.
It’s your time to join the 3%!