Positive Change

In stable times, habitual patterns work for you. They become your preferred patterns of reacting. It gives you a sense of control.

A customer delays payment. You then send in the standard follow-up letter. You take the same route to work every day. You don’t have to map it out in your mind every morning. It’s almost as if every turn were programmed into your car’s steering. Taking that route is an involuntary choice.

Your life seems to be on auto-pilot and your story seems uneventful enough. The plot thickens when certain things around you begin to change.

A new thoroughfare opens up and makes it easier and more convenient to take another route. But you still find yourself habitually going the old way until you consciously establish a new pattern. For a while, you have to map out the new route mentally and force yourself to take it instead of the old route.

Change stops the process of involuntary actions and forces us to reconsider. It disrupts the pattern and demands that we respond appropriately. So our focus is invariably on adjusting to the change or fighting it. But change is not always about adaptation, it can also signal an opportunity for creating something better. Uber did not disrupt the average taxi service because it used technology for online booking. It succeeded because it created a better experience for the customer.

Next time, instead of fighting change or surrendering to it, find out how it can help you to create a better outcome for you and others.

How to work with change:

1. Believe it holds promise for you – Every change usually holds potential for improvement. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t exist. Therefore, however unpleasant it may seem, look for the lesson contained in it; know that you can learn to work with it, use it to learn something valuable, or better still, help it propel you in an altogether new direction.

2. Write a journal – Writing is probably the best way to make sense of life. We are often sleepwalking through important experiences in life and writing forces us to pay attention to unconscious patterns or repetitive ways of thinking. It gives voice to our intuition, fears, and insights, providing greater clarity and understanding about the situation at hand. 

3. Commit to learning one new activity every week – Get out of your comfort zone. Make it a point to try one new experience or activity every week. Even trying a new dish for a start is good enough. The goal is not monumental change, but daily progress.

4. Change one habit every month – Make a list of behaviors and habits that become the cause for discomfort or regret in your life. Write down how much time you are wasting on them daily; how do you feel before and after indulging in them and what will you gain by letting go of them?

5. Use your principles as an anchor during change – Principles are not a casualty of change, rather they are revealed through change. They form the foundation of any great endeavor. They reveal the bigger picture behind the change and deepen your understanding of it.

6. Eliminate the blame game – As long as we play the victim, we become part of the problem. Once we stop the blame game, we free our energy to focus it on taking the next step.

7. Build a Solid Belief System – “Be a servant of your conscience and a master of your will,” wrote Dr. Marcus Bach. That’s good advice. To follow it, you’ll need a solid belief system based on your principles.

8. Practice is the key – You can learn and hone any new skill only through practice. And that is true for anything you want to accomplish in life. Over and above raw talent, it is sheer commitment and practice that separates a world-class tennis player from a rookie.

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