4 Steps to Lasting Change

Making Change Last

If making changes were easy, I think we’d be some pretty happy people. Why? So many people love stagnation… Or do they? Actually, they probably don’t. If you are stagnating and the world around you is changing, you’re going to be pretty unhappy ultimately so don’t buy into the hype!

Change is coming and we can be ahead of it or behind it. If you’re like me, and don’t like surprises, or having to play catch-up, then we better get on top of it. That means we need to get to the first step…

Step 1: Starting

Every single enterprise, great or small, had to START.

So where is the start? The start could be right now. The very moment you are reading these words you may have had something in your mind to change about yourself and this could be it! If so, I’m honored and I hope you’ll comment below to share that start with us.

If not, maybe you need to be a little more organized and there’s nothing wrong with that.

A start can be anything, and many people have to start over and over.

I quit smoking hundreds of times. In fact, the last time I quit is merely the last time I quit. There’s nothing more to it than that. I’m proud of the fact that was back in 2005, but each time was a start at being a non-smoker.

The start is the most important part. Even if starting is just deciding to do something and deciding to work on it in a few days. When you have made a decision like that, you have already begun working on…

Step 2: Creating Milestones

Say you create a goal of becoming a musician in a jazz band. You buy the instrument and start playing it. In about 2-3 weeks you understand how hard it is to learn this new instrument on your own. You begin to struggle and the vision of this jazz band starts to get farther and farther away.

Before you know it, you’re at the pawn shop trying to get some money for that instrument that you’re moving on from.

If you don’t have a few milestones to look forward to, the end goal can seem quite distant. We have to break up our progress into smaller chunks that are easier to manage and can result in some quick successes to keep you motivated.

There’s a few different ways to build these. They can be checkpoints of progress, like writing the first chapter of a book, mastering the first positions on your instrument, passing a test or class, or something else that’s small which shows progress.

Another might be your time to date. You are dedicating hours of time to learn a new skill or complete a project. Tracking your time in it might be another great way to measure your progress. They say it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill (although some say it may be more or less than that), and planning milestones of time can be another measure as well.

Step 3: Commitment to the Plan

Remember when I said I had to start being a non-smoker hundreds of times? Well I think that might be true of anything. The fact was I kept trying until I was.

The milestones can be a great guide to your progress and so now it takes your commitment. The work is always encouraging when you can see those little successes and build upon them.

Sometimes that’s not always the case and there’s a bit of a stretch between your milestones. It can become easy to slack off, procrastinate, and make excuses for taking a break. You must have a continuous commitment to your plan.

If a milestone seems too far away, try to create a smaller one a little closer. Take a day off and commit to renewing tomorrow (and put it on your calendar). Making change means persistence.

You may need a lasting break for any number of reasons; injury, illness, family change, etc. So, take a moment to update your calendar and choose a date of Recommitment. When you’ll review your plan, make some adjustments and get started again.

There’s no harm in taking a break, but do not give up on your dream.

Step 4: Review and Renew

Finishing, or nearly finishing your goal is great! Pat yourself on the back and enjoy this new part of your life.

Also, take the time to review your path. Did you choose a good goal? Were your milestones reasonable and did they feel like mini-accomplishments on the way? Did your completed goal look anything like the one you had in mind when you started?

Maybe you envisioned being a non-smoker and became a marathon runner as well. Perhaps instead of a jazz band, you ended up being a solo blues musician. Writing your book might have catapulted you into a position at a magazine or newspaper.

I say it’s good to note these changes that occurred as your plan progressed because to continue to learn and grow, we must continue to be making change. You will find more goals ahead and once you understand how your brain and body work achieve more, you can adapt the way you do it for better success in the future.

 

I hope you enjoyed this article and I would love to hear your comments on making change below!

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