3 Steps to Implementing Positive Change

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

A mentor of mine recently recounted how, some years ago when he joined a gym, the owner had the practice of giving new participants an orientation. During the orientation he said that he sees hundreds of people join the gym with specific goals for weight loss and getting in shape. He reported that fewer than 5% of those that joined, actually achieved their goals, however if new members also engaged the help of a personal trainer, the success rate went into the 80% range, a significant difference.

There are reasons for that dramatic difference in results, and we’ll look at them in more detail, but if you find yourself with a desire to make a change in your life, but not certain how to actually make the change or sustain it until it becomes habit, I would offer the following three suggestions:

  1. Learn the What
  2. Leverage the Why
  3. Get help with the How

Learn the What

Jim Rohn taught that education precedes all change. Some people like to start with motivation to change, but motivation to an uneducated person can in some cases be detrimental. He used to say that if you take an idiot and motivate him, well now you have a motivated idiot. That’s probably worse than before.

Often, we are the biggest obstacle in our own path to successful change. Sometimes that is because we don’t know what we don’t know. In that case we could be running around in ignorant “bliss”, until reality hits us and we realize we need to change.

If we’re at the point of making positive change consciously then, we should be through the hurdle of ignorance, but we still may not know the what for the change. In other words, we may no longer be blind to the need for our change, but we may not know what to do about it.

Gratefully there are numerous ways we can gain information in the ever exploding information age. There are multitudes of free and inexpensive resources that can provide information about thousands of topics.

An internet search is a great place to start for free information, but do your homework. Books and audio programs can be tremendous methods for increasing our knowledge about areas that we lack expertise, but for which we are trying to learn.

Leverage the Why

After we’ve addressed the “What”, if we want to sustain a positive change in our lives, we will have to have a significant “Why”. It’s not about will power, but rather about why power.

If you kind of sort of want to lose weight, and know it would be a good thing, but you really enjoy eating highly processed, readily available foods until your stomach tells you you’re full (which usually means you’ve already had too much), you’re going to have a hard time sustaining a significant weight loss effort.

If, on the other hand, you’ve been diagnosed as pre-diabetic, or with type II diabetes, your why might suddenly become much bigger, especially if you have family and friends that love and depend on you. Your why, in that case can become a driving force to see you through the difficult process that significant life change is.

When I was in high school I had a job at Aamco transmissions. I was the “gopher” and did all the odd jobs that no one else wanted to do. Back then, there were no laws against smoking indoors and one of the mechanics used to smoke regularly. One day I realized that I hadn’t seen him smoking for some time and asked him about it. He said his four-year-old son had asked him why he smoked, and if he would please stop. Quitting addictive habits, including smoking, is hard. In this case my coworker’s four-year-old son’s innocent request became a big enough why to see him through that process.

He quit smoking.

Find your why and leverage it to get you through the tough spots.

Get help with the How

As with the “What” so with the “How”. We still tend to be our biggest obstacle, but usually for reasons of pride or fear. We don’t want to appear to others that we don’t know something, so we don’t ask.

Some time ago, I was hired into a new position that included responsibilities for which I had no previous education or experience. My education was mechanical engineering, and my background to that point had been primarily engineering and program management, but hadn’t included significant responsibilities for financial forecasting. In my new position I was given the task of providing cost estimates for processes that would go through my departments. Accuracy (and thrift) were expected, and there generally wasn’t much time allowed to turn the information around.

I didn’t know how to do this. For me this was emotionally frustrating because I didn’t want to appear incapable of my responsibilities.

Fortunately I had the help of assistants and other managers in my and related departments to help pull the information together, but the biggest frustration for me was not knowing how to do it. As the manager of the group, albeit relatively new to the company, I felt like I should be the one knowing how to do it. It was hard for me to confess my ignorance and swallow my pride, to ask for help with the how. In fact, I didn’t really openly ask, but stumbled my way through it. I would have been far better off had I gone to my boss and asked for input on how to do it best.

The example of new gym membership participants at the beginning of this article also demonstrates the power of having the help of someone else can dramatically increase your success.

Seeking out and utilizing the help of people who have successfully done what we’re trying to do can make a world of difference in our efforts to achieve and sustain ongoing positive change. As my publisher stated it, “The right mentor can turn decades into days.” Having the insight, help and direction of someone who has done what we are trying to do can help pull us through our stuck spots on the road to positive personal change.

So as you find yourself striving for improvement in your life, remember these three strategies to help you succeed: Learn the What, Leverage the Why, and don’t be slow to ask for help with the How.

If you would like a FREE downloadable copy of my book, Small Steps, Big Feat, click here.