I don’t know about you, but I have some things I’d like to change about me. About my life. And I’m devoting a lot of time and energy to this right now. Whether you’re stuck in your career, your marriage, your life or just your own mind, there are five things that I have found helpful that I would like to share with you:
1. Organize Your Bees (Make a Plan). A good friend of mine told me a story about someone they knew who always had tons of ideas, thoughts, etc. and could easily go off on a million different tangents in one conversation – he said it was like this person had a beehive in their brain and every tangent represented a bee ‘getting out.’ I love that analogy! It totally fits my brain. 🙂 That’s why a plan is imperative. If you’re struggling to make a change or figure out what you want, it can be all the harder if you have a million different thoughts and ideas buzzing around.
Science shows that the physical act of writing stuff down helps you remember and retain the important stuff. Here’s one article that gets into the science of it. It’s related to the way our brains work. I prefer to think of it as a way to organize my bees. Write down a list of what you need to do, steps to take, priorities, whatever it is. It will help organize your hive and you will subconsciously apply your plan as you move forward. The physical act of writing something down, pen to paper, is old school, yeah, but it works. It’s hard to focus if you don’t have a plan. Organize your bees!
2. Know What You Want. Maybe this should be come before your plan, but if you’re like me and have a bee hive in your brain, you need to get the bees organized so you can see what you’re dealing with. Do you want more freedom? Do you need more creativity in your life? A stronger connection with your kids? More fun and less worry? Prioritize the top three. Then make a list of one thing you can do to make each one happen. One small step and you will feel so much stronger. I promise you.
3. Take One Small Step. Once you have your list of action items, pick the easiest one first to build your confidence. Let me give you an example. While I like to think I am very good with words, I am terrible with directions and abhor math. As soon as someone says, “Oh you want to go to such and such place? It’s easy! Just turn north on West Street and head south on Fifth and take five left turns until you hit South Street,” I break into hives. I am the joke of my colleagues for my aversion to driving during our many travels and my inability to navigate myself out of a paper bag. But just yesterday, while traveling on business, I decided to drive myself to our corporate office which was (insert sheepish grin here) a mere five minutes from the hotel, by myself. This sounds silly and small, I know. But I always let someone else drive or take the hotel shuttle because I don’t want to deal with it. But I used Google maps, I went alone, and I was just fine. Expressways make me nervous and I left like an hour early in case I got derailed, but I did it. I can’t tell you the sense of accomplishment and power I felt as I pulled into the parking lot. It made me feel like I could do more. So much more. If you hear enough times that you can’t do something, pretty soon you can’t. Don’t let that be you! Sick your bees on anyone who tells you can’t do something. 🙂
4. Ask the Right Questions. Seems simple, right? I facilitate message and strategy workshops and interview people for a living, so I know if I want to get what I need to create the right story, it’s all about asking the right questions. But it’s much easier to interview others than to interview yourself. Go to the tough ones: what is working in your life? What is not? What do you need? Who do you need more of? Less of? Be tough on yourself. Pretend like you are interviewing Osama Bin Laden. Grill the shit out yourself. You’ll never figure out where you need to go if you don’t and will end up driving in circles on some insane freeway with a GPS device that only repeats in a robotic female voice “turn left” over and over.
5. Stop Being a Victim. I think this is the hardest of all. It is so easy to sit back and blame your problems of today on the sins of others or the past. Instead, you need to think like a winner. You can do anything. And you deserve to be treated with respect – so demand it. As Dr. Phil says, you teach people how to treat you. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else? Yeah, bad shit happens. But that doesn’t mean you need to be a prisoner of it forever. When you catch yourself blaming someone else for why you’re stuck, stop! Think: what can I do differently to change my situation? What do I deserve? What do I need that I am too afraid to ask for? Then let go of the old stuff. It is out of style and doesn’t fit you anymore anyway.
Change is hard. But you can do it. Go for it!