“If you don’t go after what you want, you could spend your entire life settling for what you can get.”
Mo Stegall, author of “Against All Odds I Can Be”
When I ask people what do you want out of life, the vast majority of people say, “I just want to be happy” or “I want to be successful.” They’re not bad answers. The problem is … the vast majority of people don’t achieve anywhere near the “happiness” or “success” they would like … because they don’t know how to go through the CHANGES that will get them there.
To get you started on the road to positive, lasting, and effective change on and off the job, start with these 7 tips. In fact, these tips are so good, I’d suggest you print out a copy to put on your wall and send them to lots of other people who want and need more happiness and greater success in every part of their lives and work.
1. Change is not for the happy; it’s for the hungry or the unhappy ones.
Before you change, you need a desire to change. And that may or may not come naturally. As outlined in the book “Even Eagles Need A Push,” the author David McNally states unequivocally, “Who you will be, what you will be, and where you will be, will be the result of your willingness to adapt, to change, to learn, and to grow.”
So you’re not as happy as you’d like to be right now? No problem! Change is not for the happy. As opposite as they might be, disgust and resolve are two of the great emotions that lead to change.
2. Nobody wakes up happy and successful.
You must first decide that you truly, deep down, want to be happier and more successful. It isn’t something you fall into; it starts with a decision you make. As financier John Pierpont Morgan observed about 200 years ago, “The first step toward getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”
Of course that involves some risk. It means you have to give up the “what if, if only, could have, and should have” games you’ve been playing to keep yourself safe. You’ve got to take some risks to get more of what you want. After all, “Progress always involves risk. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first!” writes author Frederick B. Wilcox.
And according to management guru Peter F. Drucker, “There are essentially 4 kinds of risk: 1) The risk one must accept. 2) The risk one can afford to take. 3) The risk one cannot afford to take. 4) The risk one cannot afford not to take.” To be happier and more successful, there are … as point 4 indicates … some risks you cannot afford not to take. You have to choose them.
And come to think about it, the degree of happiness and success you achieve is a matter of choice. You always have a choice to rejoice.
3. If I want something I’ve never had I must do something I’ve never done.
It’s a toughie to swallow, but true nonetheless. If you want greater happiness and success, you can’t be a member of NATO — No Action Talk Only. Or as Lee Harrison, the chairman of the career firm Lee Hecht Harrison, says, “You can’t talk your way out of a situation that you behaved yourself into.”
The truth is … change involves desire, decisions, and DOING. Or put another way, a change of mind results in a change of heart, which results in a change of action, which results in a change of feelings.
All of that can be a little scary … doing something you’ve never done. So heed the advice of educator L. Thomas Holdcroft, “The past is a guidepost, not a hitching post.”
4. Anything I can tolerate, I’ll probably not change.
Ouch! Oh sure, you may whine, gripe, and complain about your weight, your spouse, your kids, your job, your team, or letting your phone and e-mail ruin your life. But as much as I hate to say this, you have no right to complain about any of those things if you don’t do something about them or if you just keep on permitting them to happen.
When I push someone about the things he or she needs to do, they’ll often acquiesce and say they agree with me … “in principle.” But I’ve learned a long time ago, when a person says he approves of something “in principle,” it means he hasn’t the slightest intention of putting it into practice.
You need to quit tolerating the stuff that is “good enough” or “getting you by.” As I continue to write my latest book, I want to urge you to get off the Merry-Go-Round to nowhere … to quit being a Dreamer, a Struggler, or a Good-Enougher. Quit tolerating and start changing.
And so what if you don’t come up with instant success. As Robyn Allan, a dance show producer and performer, advises, “Many of us are afraid to follow our passions, to pursue what we want most because it means taking risks and even facing failure. But to pursue your passion with all your heart and soul is success in itself. The greatest failure is to have never really tried.”
5. Worry is worthless.
Worry is thinking about everything that has gone wrong, is going wrong, and will go wrong. To worry about what you can’t change is useless. To worry about you can change is a waste of time; either change it or forget it.
Personally, I like the way famous professional development expert Dale Carnegie put it. He said, “If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there and worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the loss of sleep.”
6. The secret to your future is in your daily routine.
If you want anything great, more than likely it will come out of a whole host of small things that you do on a regular basis. That’s why change involves discipline.
David Livingstone, the great 19th century explorer, knew that. He said, “I am willing to go anywhere, anywhere, anywhere — so long as it’s forward.”
7. Enjoy the journey … because it’s a process.
You must accept the fact that life is full of problems, so you had better learn to enjoy life … anyway … or the process of living itself. After all, as my post-doctoral professor Virginia Satir taught me, “You never learn when things are going smoothly.”
All too many people don’t enjoy life or the things of life until they’ve won. That’s crazy. A football game may take two hours, for example, so it only makes sense that you enjoy the two-hour game as much as you do the two-minute win.
Mischa Elman, the famed violinist, learned to enjoy the journey … just as we all must learn to do. When he was 70 and preparing to depart from the United States for his final European concert tour, as he boarded the plane, he said, “When I made my debut as a twelve-year old in Berlin, people used to say, ‘Isn’t he wonderful for his age.’ Now they’re beginning to say the same things!”
Internalize these 7 thoughts and behaviors, and you’ll be well on your way to the change, happiness and success you want and need … at work and at home.