It’s Not Too Late in the Year to Make the Decision to Change
A new year is all about possibilities, inspiration, hope and the promise of change. New year, new you, right? Well, it’s a little over a week into 2019, and there are plenty of people out there who haven’t even made a resolution, let alone kept one. These people know that they need to make some sort of change, but they don’t know precisely what to change or how to make that change happen.
Maybe this sounds familiar. Maybe you know you need to make some sort of change in your life, but you feel totally stuck. And so you are resigned to remain, for another year, in the exact same spot. I felt like this for a long time while staying in my Biglaw job. I didn’t want to be there anymore, but I stayed longer than I should have because I was frozen in place. I’m here to try to help you avoid this mistake and make a change RIGHT NOW.
Whether it is a job, a career, a city, a relationship or your health, feeling stuck is extremely common. And it can become extremely frustrating if you don’t take action and do something to make a change.
It can be especially frustrating when a new year starts and you can’t seem to get yourself motivated to do anything about it. Well, we’re only a few days into the year, and it’s definitely not too late to make the decision to change your life in 2019! This post is all about showing you how you can get started, today, to make your 2019 goals happen.
Change Is Simple, But Not Easy
If the need to change is so strong, how come we often let the feeling sit with us for weeks, months or even years at a time? If we know we want to change some aspect of our life, why don’t we just go ahead and do it?
It might sound or even be simple, but it’s not easy. Change often feels overwhelming and like it is impossible to figure out where to begin. It’s daunting to want to lose 100 pounds, especially if you don’t let yourself imagine what it will be like 6 months or a year from now when you’ve accomplished the goal.
But imagine if you had started that work on yourself six months ago, well then today, you would be almost at your goal. Picture that for a moment and read on for the actionable steps to make it possible.
Inspiration to Transform
Lots of transformation stories, be it a career switch or a lifestyle makeover, are triggered by some sort of catastrophic event. An alcoholic gets a DUI after narrowly missing crashing into an elderly lady out for a walk; a massively overweight forty-year-old suffers a heart attack and is told he has the heart of a 95-year-old; the examples go on and on.
Those two people clearly were sent a message (although it is still up to them to make a change) – change or you won’t be around for much longer. But what if you haven’t experienced something like this? Do you have to wait around to hit rock bottom, too, in order to be able to be spurred into action? No way!
Transformation stories brought on by a disease or a near-death experience are dramatic and inspiring, but they are not the example you need nor want to follow. There’s no rule out there that says you have to wait for something terrible to happen (a diagnosis, a death in the family, a financial disaster) for you to be able to change your life.
If you are waiting for something bad to happen to you, you’re simply making excuses for why you haven’t made any progress on your goal. Trust me, I did just that. It wasn’t that I was consciously waiting for something bad to happen, but I wanted something to happen to force me to make a decision. Don’t wait for that. Instead, read these five steps that you can take TODAY to start making progress towards whatever goal it is you are eyeing.
1. Use Your Past Challenges As Motivation.
You (hopefully) haven’t hit what others would consider “rock bottom,” but surely you have faced many challenges over the course of your life. The challenges in life that you have faced can be used as motivation to move yourself forward. How do you do this?
Dig deep and write them all down. Reflecting on each and on the list as a whole will help you realize that you’ve overcome some pretty tough things in the past. If you are one of those people who thinks you need to be at your lowest before you can reach your highest, this exercise works to clear your mind of whatever excuses might be holding you back from making a change.
Just because on paper you haven’t hit a “rock bottom” in the traditional sense, use these past challenges as motivation to see that you might have been down before, but you are on your way up!
2. Make the Decision to Change.
Admit to yourself what it is that you want to change. Is it your career? That’s what it was for me. If that’s what it is for you, too, make the decision that you are going to do everything in your power to find a new one or quit the current one within a certain amount of time.
Once you have made the decision, things will start naturally happening because you have allowed yourself to set a new goal. You’ve given yourself permission to make the change by making one simple decision.
While it sounds simple, it is often overwhelming to admit to yourself what it is you want to change. However, once you get the ball rolling, you’ll see that you will feel an ease you had not felt in a while and will begin to work towards changing. Remember, this is all without hitting rock bottom. You deserve to change if you want to, whenever you want to, in whichever way you want.
One of my favorite quotes from “The Alchemist” is about just this topic – decision making. In it, the author Paulo Coelho wisely writes of the main protagonist facing a difficult decision:
“He still had some doubts about the decision he had made.
But he was able to understand one thing: making a decision was
only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision,
he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had
never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”
3. Write Down Your Goal.
While I am a huge proponent of writing down everything that comes to your mind, it is especially important to write down your goals. It’s a simple principal, but it is so helpful. I’ve noticed that this is something that the inspiring Richard Branson often mentions as a key to his success.
I first noticed he gave the advice on New Year’s Eve in an Instagram post in 2016: “One tip for 2017 – write it down!” And in another interview, he was quoted as saying, “I can’t tell you where I’d be if I hadn’t had a pen on hand to write down my ideas as soon as they came to me.”
Bonus points for writing out your goal and posting it in a place you see every day. Whether it is your calendar, a sticky note on your fridge, or a notecard you leave on your pillow every morning after you make your bed so you can see it before you go to bed that night, write it down and leave it somewhere you’ll see it and constantly be reminded of the decision you’ve made.
4. Speak Your Goal Out Loud.
It might sound terrifying to admit your goal out loud, so if you need to take baby steps for this one, start by saying it out loud just to yourself. Say it as you are getting ready in the morning or as you are brushing your teeth at night until you are comfortable with speaking it out loud – to others, too!
Once you are feeling brave enough, or if you want (or need) external accountability to make it happen, tell someone. Maybe it’s just one person, or maybe you broadcast it to your whole Facebook and Instagram feeds. Whatever you decide to do, I urge you to push yourself a little out of your comfort zone.
Don’t tell others in order to get their approval – remember, you’ve already made the decision and written down the goal/change you want to make. You are just telling others so your vision is put out there in another way and so you can be held accountable to it when your friend asks you in two months how the new exercise regime is going.
If the people you tell offer you encouragement and support, that’s just a cherry on top. If they react negatively at all, move on and forget about them. Not everyone is going to be happy or encouraging about your changes, but nobody needs to be happy about them except for you.
5. Break Your Goal Down Into Tiny, Actionable Steps – and Set a Deadline.
Whether it’s a big goal or a small one, it is always best to break it down into smaller (and even smaller) mini-goals and steps. Depending on what you want to achieve, this could mean a weekly or monthly benchmark, or it could be a daily one.
When I finally decided to leave my job (my big goal), the first thing I did was pick my end date. I worked backwards from there and figured out everything I needed to get done before that date happened. I gave myself a lot of time to get to the end date, but almost every day until that day I did something that got me closer to my goal.
Whether it was figuring out health insurance for when I left my job, updating my resume so I would have it ready when and if I needed it, or figuring out a post-law firm budget, I did something related to leaving my job every day. Because my goal was so far away, this helped to keep me motivated. Not to mention that it prepared me for when I ultimately did make the big jump.
It’s Your Turn. What Will You Change In 2019?
Making a huge change in life takes just one decision. From there, things will begin to flow. Especially if you write it down, tell someone about it, and take daily, actionable steps to make it come true.
I hope you use these steps to make a change in your life. Or maybe to make many changes! If you like this advice or have some more tips of your own, let me know in the comments below!