Did you know that December 31st is “Make Up Your Mind Day” in the United States? This is entirely appropriate, as the first step in any personal transformation requires making a decision that you really do want to change.
You have probably heard the dismal statistics: 80% of New Year’s Resolutions are broken or abandoned by February. I know that, as a career coach, we get flooded in January from people who make that solid resolution that this year they are going to find a new job. However, not all of them fully understand the amount of work involved to not only find but also land a job that they truly love. Just like all resolutions, this is why most people give up after a couple of months. Sometimes it is easier to deal with your comfort zone – even if it is a bad work environment – than it is to break away.
Instead of a resolution, try making a decision to put change into your life. Decisions are important because:
- Decisions are not time-dependent.
Once broken, it is easy to abandon a resolution and forget about it until next year. On the other hand, you can make a solid decision every single day of the year to put effort to your goals. In fact, this can be a great motivator: start your mornings with the decision to move forward, even if you failed or got stalled out the day before.
- Decisions are building blocks.
Just like goals are easier to reach when they are broken into smaller components, several small decisions can lead to major life change. For example, our would-be job seeker can start by making decisions about the type of work they would like to do, or decide to pursue jobs closer to their house to reduce their daily commute. Even deciding to conduct personal evaluations to help them determine their next career is a small, actionable step that puts them on the pathway to a better job. (By the way, www.YouScience.com is a great website for that type of exploration!)
- Decisions are forward-focused.
Everyone has frustrations on their job. However, there is a difference between complaining about the situation and fantasizing about a new job vs. actually engaging in the job search. By making the decision to seek change, you are getting out of the problem and moving towards the solution.
- Decisions can be repeated.
An important thing to accept about change is that you will face failure along the way. The diet will be broken. You will miss days at the gym. You may not get the job offer after the interview. While resolutions may crash and burn after a setback, you can always renew your decision to change at any time, sometimes even multiple times during the same day.
- Decisions are NOT action.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but often times, our biggest block to change is ourselves. In fact, we build psychological tricks that help us cope with our daily lives. When we try to change, these tools will fight against us, as change can be a threat to our psychological status quo. This is why we fall back into our behavior patterns and fail at resolutions. By making a decision BEFORE taking action, we are taking baby steps to change – which helps our ego become more accepting of new situations, instead of fighting to retain old behavior patterns.
A Story About Frogs…
There were three frogs sitting on a log in the swamp. One of them decides to jump into the water and find better fly-hunting ground across the pond.
How many frogs were left on the log?
There were still three – our hero only decided to jump in the water, but he didn’t move yet.
Maybe he wanted to do some research to find out where the flies were congregating. Maybe he was reluctant to leave his friends behind. Maybe he had a cramp in his leg. Maybe he was waiting for the alligator to pass so he didn’t get eaten on his journey.
The point is that because of his decision, he was able to consider many factors, finally taking action when he was fully prepared, both mentally and physically.
This is the secret to lasting change – make your decision, develop your strategies, and THEN dive into action with a splash.
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