Let’s begin with an odd question. Have you ever played pool? Are you getting curious about how playing pool relates to making BIG changes in your life? It’s time to noodle around on this one and see what we learn.
Pool is Like…
If you have ever played pool, you may have noticed how being a ½ millimeter off when you tap the white ball, by the end of the table, the white ball is off course by inches? Such a little thing as a ½ a millimeter adjustment on the ball can radically change where the ball travels by the end of the table.
This is commonly called the butterfly effect, a phenomenon wherein a small change in starting conditions can lead to vastly different outcomes. Yet, rarely do people see the impact of a butterfly wing beat, like a hurricane in the South Seas. Pool, on the other hand, most of us have seen this at least a couple of times in our life. And, how you ask, does this impact you in real life?
…the Butterfly Effect
Well, the same thing applies to any change you want to encourage in your lire. You are actively living in space and time. And, even a small change, a millimeter or butterfly wing, will have significant consequences down the road.
If I start eating junk food every day, I may gain weight or begin building plaque in my heart. Over time this could drastically impact my enjoyment of my body and my life. On the other hand, If I want to make a positive change, like get fit, a small adjustment in my daily routine can lead to a big difference in my health in 6 months or a year. Basically, never doubt your ability to improve your life, choosing a few small changes, can grow through time, if you keep at it.
Tools for making BIG Changes
Write a list of all the things that you have accomplished. Make sure you add something like I graduated from…, I taught my child…, I am a good friend to… Find accomplishments from your experiences, education, your personal life, your work/career, and volunteer jobs. Have you ever gotten a compliment about being smart or creative, or funny? Write it down. Keep the list somewhere that you can find it and add to it as you go. This list will help on the days you feel less than. It will help you challenge your thinking, when your thoughts may be more detrimental than is useful.
Leave yourself Love Notes!
These aren’t love notes in the traditional format. Instead, this is you telling yourself the things you need to hear. For instance, “I’m a whole, resourceful, capable, and creative human being!” “I have a generous soul.” “People respond to my care for them.” “My circle of friends knows the real me and love me the way I am.” “I have a big heart.” “Life long learning is my superpower.” “My ability to do X is something to be proud of.” Put these post-it note messages up all-around your bathroom mirror, you will have to see them at least twice a day, and they will be useful for making long term changes.
Try Power Posing!
Stand like Superman or Wonder Woman. Raise your hands in the Victory V and smile to the sky. Sit with your legs up on the desk and your hands behind your head like a big shot. Find a power pose, and then practice it in private. Over time, you will change the testosterone and cortisol levels in your body, leading to the embodying of your Super Self. Ultimately, you will develop a more robust sense of yourself. To craft your inner superhero, this article might be of interest.
See yourself handling anything you need to do well. See yourself being successful in anything you might typically be scared of, such as talking in front of a crowd of people, or in a job interview. Maybe your shyness stops you from going to a party where you don’t know people or walking into a new situation without worry. Choose whatever might be scary, and then see yourself doing that thing with confidence.
It can be hard to let go of regrets, resentments or worries, it seems you’re hardly human if you don’t have a few of these. All these things are either past focused or future-focused. They can take attention away from ‘now.’ The more you focus on the negative past/future, the harder it is to feel good about yourself and/or your direction right now. When we focus on things we have no control over, the past, especially, it’s challenging to move toward any change. Looking backward is only helpful if you are learning from it or letting go of it. The future is open and unknown, we can work to influence it in positive ways, but worry and resentments rarely get you where you want to go.
You probably get more done when you have an accountability partner… especially one who will be fully vested in the process. For whatever reason, we often give ourselves a break when it comes to self care. We are too busy, too tired, or too too [insert excuse here]. And, having a partner to help you hold yourself accountable can really improve your odds of meeting any goal you set for yourself.
A Story of Change
In May, I decided that I had to start moving more. It was easy to see from my watch app that I wasn’t hitting any movement goals consistently. Having watched some people age with vigor, while seeing others take a slow slide into lost muscle and balance, I knew I needed a change. I chatted with my best friend, and we both agreed we would be each other’s, accountability partner. So, with high hopes, I dove into June… and not a lot changed. I wasn’t actually making time in my day to move. Even more importantly, I wasn’t honoring my agreement to my self care plan.
This went on until the middle of July, I thought about moving, dancing, walking, and I continued to stay stagnant. So, my friend and I chatted again. Something needed to change, because the plan for movement I had, wasn’t doing it for me. We noodled around on a few ideas. One is that we needed to work with our strengths.
We are both a little competitive and so making it a game that included a small competition was a great idea. But, I also knew that I would lose interest if every month I lost. So, change of plan, we came up with a way for both of us to win. Each month we agreed to move 20 days out of each month. If we both met the goal, then we would put 25 bucks into our travel kitty for the “Girls Trip”. If one or both of us didn’t make the 20 days of movement, we owed the other person 50 dollars, ouch!
As much as I love my friend, I didn’t want to make a habit of paying her 50 dollars because I wasn’t meeting my personal goals. The change was instant for me. Now I was in competition with myself. If I could win every month, and I had the type of accountability that would work for me, I felt confident I could change. I loved that we let go of our first idea of accountability, one that wasn’t working, and adjusted. By being willing to pivot our plan, we have been able to consistently accomplish the goal.
The Plan is not the Goal… The Goal is the Goal
It can be a challenge to keep your eye on your goal. The daily grind of making a change can get boring or old. Needing to remind yourself to follow through on the actions you create that lead, where you want to go, can be exhausting.
I spoke to BJ Fogg a few years ago when I was writing StoryJacking, about his Tiny Habits. And, what I really liked was the Tiny Habit idea of linking a small change to an already established behavior. It’s one of the reasons post-it notes on a bathroom mirror works, you will typically go into your bathroom… and then you are reminded of what you need to hear.
The plan is not the goal; the goal is the goal. When reaching for our dreams and aspirations, whatever they might be, you need to be able to pivot the plan. Getting attached to the idea that the journey will go according to plan, leads to disappointment. The pounds don’t magically drop off. The journey is often fraught with ups and downs. The goal, however, is the destination. And, the path to significant changes comes from persevering and pivoting with agility towards your goal.
You Have Got This!
Never give up on the changes that are important to you. Try these tools to help you keep your energy high as you move toward your goals. Your willingness to find ways to support yourself through the journey will get you to the finish line.
Just like in that game of pool from earlier, these tiny tweaks will lead you to new outcomes. As you make these small adjustments, creating new tiny habits, monitor how they are doing. When they don’t work, be agile and pivot your plan. If your plan is working and you feel more competent and capable, then make another, and then another, and another!
I would LOVE to hear from YOU!
- What is one BIG Change you want for yourself?
- Name one way you can support yourself to be successful in meeting your goal?
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