I was at work one day, calling on a customer who wasn’t answering her phone. Her voice mail message started out in the usual way, “…we’re not home, leave a message…” what followed was not so usual. It continued, “…by the way, we’ve recently made some changes in our life, if we don’t call you back, you’re one of the changes, beeeep”. My first reaction was disbelief at what was probably one of the rudest messages I had ever heard (and I’ve heard quite a few!). But I couldn’t get it off my mind, and by the end of the day I had changed my perspective. I began to admire this woman, who was obviously at the end of her rope. She was very determined, for whatever reason, to end relationships that were affecting her life in a negative way.
Change is never easy, especially when it requires us to dramatically alter the way we’ve become accustomed to living our lives. Leaving our comfort zone, no matter how much we dislike it, requires a combination of bravery and determination, as well as education in that area.
Many times we’re so desperate to better ourselves, we hastily make ineffective and, sometimes expensive, decisions that we feel will quickly produce the results we are looking for. Purchasing a costly gym membership and vowing to attend seven days a week while surviving on lettuce, may seem like a great idea for a few weeks (if you’re very determined,) but how long can you live like that?
If you’re serious about making a long-term change in your life, take these steps to ensure your success:
1. Educate Yourself
Aside from determination, education is the most important key to your success. Knowing exactly what you must do to accomplish your goals will give you the power to make them a reality. Consult a professional or check out a book written by a credible authority on the subject. You can also tap the wealth of information to be found on the Internet. Friends and acquaintances can also provide insight. I have a good friend who is very organized, an area in which I am always trying to improve. Over the years I have learned a great deal from watching her manage her incredibly busy life.
2. Set Reasonable Goals
You are not going to lose 30 pounds in two weeks. Nor are you going to undo years of financial irresponsibility in six months. After becoming educated, you will get a realistic picture of how long it will be before you should expect to see results. Having this knowledge upfront will prevent you from giving up too soon.
3. Plan and Track
If you’re trying to accomplish something that requires long-term commitment, purchase a journal or notebook to write down your short and long term goals. Detail how you will carry them out and when you will complete them. Check each item off as you accomplish it. Keeping a journal to record your achievements can be motivating on those days when you feel like sliding back to your old ways.
4. Just Say No
Avoid situations that will prevent you from accomplishing your goals. This is especially important in the beginning, before your new way of life comes natural to you.
5. Pat Yourself on the Back
Be proud of yourself for making the decision to improve your quality of life. When you reach important milestones, reward yourself in a way that is in sync with your new lifestyle. A new outfit is a great reward for losing weight, but would be considered a setback if you’re trying to cut back on spending!