How to make change happen in your life

“I’ve created a great vision board, set my goals but nothing has changed. It’s not working.”
said a woman that I met at a networking event a while ago.

I gently asked them what had they started to DO differently. They looked at me quizzically and asked what I meant.

This interaction is quite typical of many I have with clients and people I meet who want things to be different. I love it when people I meet want to change things, aim to take their business up a notch or achieve something of personal significance. The trouble is, that wanting the change is only the start.

Unless you change what you do, nothing will change.

There is a great model which many teachers and thought leaders use, and it comes under many different names. It is simple and yet we often forget it when we want things to be different as we focus so much on what we have or don’t have currently, as opposed to what we do want. The model is:

Thinking creates feelings. -> Feelings create actions. -> Actions create results.

Have you ever had the experience of walking into a meeting with a client, and thinking that you would be really successful and the meeting does go well?

Or have you had the reverse happen and you walk in feeling less than hopeful, and the meeting bombs?

In the first example, your thinking may have been in going to the meeting “I’m going to nail this meeting, it will go really well”.

Consequently, you felt optimistic and confident. Thus in the meeting you acted confidently, you asked bold questions, your posture was straight and upright, your voice was deeper as your breathing was more relaxed and you probably asked for the order!

Einstein was quoted as saying “The definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting a different result”.

Result?

Success!

Whereas in the other scenario…you walk in thinking “this meeting will be a disaster, I’m no good at selling, I hate meeting new clients”.  You start to feel nervous, unconfident, and maybe a little anxious.

Thus your behaviour is timid. You may have little direct eye contact, you let them lead the meeting and your voice is a high pitched as your nerves mean that your breathing is shallow. You don’t ask for the order.

Result? Fail. And what’s worse, is that you probably beat yourself up all the way back to the office.

So, if you want to achieve a goal for your business here are the three areas you need to do something differently in.

1. Your thinking

2. Your feelings

3. Your actions

Let’s start with your thinking, as this is the foundation of everything else.

You might not be able to control how a lot of your body works – we can’t control our heartbeat, we can’t control our digestion, we can’t control our pulse. The good news is: we can CONTROL our thoughts.

How are your thoughts helping you achieve your business success?

It is time for you to start to actively think about your thinking. Observe your thoughts every day. How many support you and how many don’t. I have written before about the inner critic here so there are some more detailed articles you can look at.

When you think an unhelpful thought, simply say “thanks for sharing” and then choose a thought that will actually help you get closer to your goals.

For example, “I’m no good at sales” could be replaced with “I love talking to people about how I can help them”

And your feelings?

With our feelings, we can manage them too. Often it’s as simple as choosing a better feeling thought as in the example above. But sometimes that’s not enough. In these cases, choose to think something else, believe you can feel better and then change your physical state.

For example, you may be feeling low about a customer cancelling their order and this may get you into a downward spiral of not feeling very good about everything. It’s easy in these cases to go into self-flagellation, misery about having your own business and big questions about whether or not you are any good at it.

So, in these situations, STOP your thoughts! Choose to no longer think those dark thoughts and change your focus. Think about things you have done well in the past. Believe you can do well again. And take yourself out for a quick walk – get back into nature, or put on your favourite music and have a dance around. I know these may sound odd, but trust me, they do work!

So now your thinking and your feelings are on their way to propelling you towards your goals, what about your actions?

So, what about your actions?

Once you have determined your goal, have you spent any time planning what steps you need to take to achieve it? Often we want to achieve a 20% increase in our turnover yet we don’t spend any time thinking about what we have to do to get it.

So, spend some time creating a list of tasks that will help you get your goals. An easy way to do this is to get some post it notes, and brainstorm all the actions you need to take to get your goals.

Then, when you have done that, arrange them so they are in chronological order. Then you have created a step-by-step plan of all the actions that need to be taken to achieve your goals.

The most important step of this to then place the time to take the action steps in your calendar. Too often we are too busy to do the work to actually achieve our goals. We get stuck in the easy, small busy work. So, place the items in your calendar and really, really commit to yourself to get it done above all else.

Thinking, feeling and acting differently will help you get a different result. If you want to make change in your life and your business, you need to make changes in yourself first.

Wendy Kerr

Director for The Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Auckland University.The Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is the hub for the development and promotion of innovation, commercialisation and entrepreneurial activities within the University.We create experiential programmes, workshops and events to unleash the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, to transform the mindsets of our students and staff to support the growth of New Zealand as a prosperous and creative nation.

Be the change that you want to see. Step into your leadership.

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