“Your life does not get better by chance; it gets better by change.”-Jim Rohn
I remember asking a forty-something at a New Year’s party, “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” He just shook his head and said, “I didn’t make one. I just break them anyway. What’s the point?”
“Wow,” I thought. “That’s like giving up hope.” I believe in hope and I believe we can change for good – at any age. One of the great blessings of being human and being alive is we can choose to do things differently any time we want.
Our history doesn’t need to predict our future unless we let it. Just because we’ve broken resolutions in the past, doesn’t mean we can’t honor them this time.
The secret is to believe it is possible. As Brene Brown says, “I will choose how the story ends.” We can also choose how the story STARTS.
What will you change today to give yourself a FRESH START on life?
Long-time friend and Hall of Fame speaker Glenna Salsbury wrote an inspiring book on this subject entitled, “The Art of the Fresh Start.” The premise of Glenna’s book is that “most resolutions – no matter how well-intended – are doomed to fail for one often overlooked reason: they are incongruent with our dreams and values.”
I think there’s another reason our attempts to change often fail. We focus on what we don’t want instead of on what we do.
My clarity around this was triggered by two emails our office received last week. The first said, “Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions.”
The second said, in response to our request to change the day and time of an appointment, “I don’t think that will be a problem.”
Yikes. When we tell ourselves (and others) what NOT to do, we actually increase the likelihood the unwanted behavior will happen. For example, what do you think about when reading these phrases?
“I don’t like it when you interrupt me.”
“You need to stop being late all the time.”
“We can’t afford to make mistakes in that meeting.”
“No need to get nervous before that presentation.”
The words “don’t,” “stop” “won’t” and “not” are “ghost” words. Our mind doesn’t register them. When they’re paired with an unwanted behavior, “Don’t worry,” or “I won’t eat carbs” or “Stop hitting your sister” we pay attention to, produce, and perpetuate the very behavior we DON’T want.
That’s why, when that company rep said, “Don’t hesitate to call,” they introduced the word “hesitate” which means we’ll think twice before contacting them.
It’s better to say, “Please call if you have questions.” or “We look forward to hearing from you …”
For many people, the word problem means “something’s wrong.” Why give customers the impression something wrong if there isn’t? How about a more gracious, “That will work fine” or “Yes, he’s open at 4:30 and I’m happy to book that time.”
Words matter. It’s in our best interests to mindfully select words that focus on the DESIRED vs. the DREADED behavior because we get what we focus on.
This applies to what you want to change. Instead of using language that focuses on what you DON’T want; use words that state what you DO want. For example:
“I will stop sitting all day at work” becomes “I get up from my desk and take two ten minute walk breaks every day.”
“You need to stop interrupting people” becomes “Let people finish what they’re saying.”
“I don’t eat carbs” becomes “I love eating lean, green and protein.”
“I don’t want to be nervous before that presentation” becomes “I welcome this speaking opportunity and will walk in with confidence.”
Please note: switching the words we think/say transcends “semantics.” Choosing words that keep the desired behavior top of mind helps us – and others – change into being the quality of person we want to be.
To help achieve that, here are quotes on how we can change for good – starting now. You might want to print them out and post them where you see them everyday to keep them in-sight, in-mind so you keep them top-of-mind. Enjoy.
1. “Never say anything to yourself you don’t want to come true.” – Brian Tracy
2. “Life has no remote. You’ve got to get up and change it yourself.” – Pinterest post
3. “If you’re brave enough to say good-bye, life will reward you with a new hello.” – Paulo Coelho”
4. “Look closely at the present you’re constructing. It should look like the future you’re dreaming.” – Alice Walker
5. “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” – Martin Luther
6. “There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.” – Jean-Paul Sartre
7. “Your future depends on many things, mostly on you.” – Frank Tyger
8. “You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” – Mary Pickford
9. “Live out of your imagination, not your history.” – Stephen Covey
10. “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” – Pablo Picasso
11. “The only thing keeping you from what you want is the story you’re telling yourself about it.” – Tony Robbins
12. “And suddenly you know it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” – Meister Ekhart
13. “Do you know the #1 precursor to change? A sense of urgency.” – John Kotter
14. “Change before you have to.” – Jack Welch
15. “You can’t start the chapter of a new life if you keep re-reading the last one.” Pinterest post
16. “May your choices be based on your hopes and not your fears.” Nelson Mandela
17. “Don’t tell it like it is, tell it like you want it to be.” – Esther Hicks
18. “To make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar.” Richard Feynman
19. “The only danger is not to evolve.” – Jeff Bezos
20. “How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank
And a final quote from the incomparable Anne Lamott. It’s a long one and a good one. Wishing you a juicy year – and a juicy life.
“What if you wake up some day and you’re 65 or 75, and you never got your novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing you forgot to have a big juicy creative life of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.” – Anne Lamott
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Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create a quality life-work that adds value for all involved. Her TEDx talk and books Tongue Fu!, POP! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in NY Times and presented to Capital One, National Geographic, Boeing, Intel, NASA and Accenture. Want Sam to share her inspiring keynote with your group? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com.