I made a post the other day about looking to the basics when you’re troubleshooting a problem, which caused me to ask myself some questions:
- when a person sets out to improve their life and encounters less-than-optimal results, what could they be doing wrong?
- why, when someone is very knowledgeable in the personal development area, does there appear to be little or no improvement?
- what are the fundamental bits of knowledge that are essential to making changes in a life?
- what exactly is the sequence of change–what happens first?
- which technology has the best results for life changes?
I thought about these questions in a global context, but they came to me because of some frustration in my own life, in my own improvement process. “Why can’t I make this stuff work?!”, I asked me. “Whoops! Wrong question!” (I am making some progress! The quality of your questions dictate the quality of your answers, which is food for another post…)
I believe that I can change my life. I believe that I have the influence and the tools to make that happen. So what might I be doing incorrectly? Ahh…a better question.
When we’re trying to make changes, a lot of us experience a feeling of being overwhelmed. There is so much to change! Where do I start? How do I do it? When do I do these things? My life is already so busy! Why is this technology better than the others I know? What works better? Which one do I use? My brain starts to feel like a pinball.
Feeling overwhelmed is not conducive to change. My reaction to intense overwhelment (is that a word?) is basically to curl up in a little ball in my mind and whimper, looking for ways to make myself feel better. That manifests into actions that don’t really help in getting where I want to go: watching movies that make me feel worse instead of better, reading books, articles, web pages, etc. that do the same. Behaving in ways that aren’t congruent with the person I know I am–which makes me feel even worse. A giant downward spiral…a descent into the maelstrom (apologies to Edgar Allen Poe).
So with my post in the front of my mind, I realized that I was treating my life the same way I was treating the car that wouldn’t start: I am not paying attention to the basics. (That, by the way, is what a good coach can do for you–help you focus on the things you know, and guide you back to the basics. Thanks, Wendy! More on coaches later…)
What are the ‘basics’?
Tony Robbins calls this the ‘Ultimate Success Formula’–and it is that. These are the basics to making any changes in your life; really, the basics of making progress in any area:
- know your outcome
- take action
- did it work?
- adjust your approach if you need to
There it is! That’s all that anyone needs to know to begin to make changes.
The thing that annoys me the most is that I could give you that sequence of steps in my sleep. It’s ingrained. But I also bury it and look for more complicated answers when I ask, “Why isn’t this stuff working?”
The correct answer, of course, is that I wasn’t following the formula. I was looking for the complicated answers when the true answer was right in front of me.
If you take a few minutes to really think about the above formula, you’ll realize that, just like the law of attraction, it is always working. Do you see? They are the basic steps we take, without realizing it, to accomplish any task in our daily lives, from taking a shower to starting the car, to eating from a plate.
- there’s a pile of peas on your plate. You want them in your mouth. That’s your outcome.
- you scoop them up with your fork, and lift. There’s your action.
- you notice that most of the peas fell off your fork. You see that your action didn’t quite achieve the outcome you wanted. You ask, did it work?
- you smother your peas in honey–maybe that’ll keep them on the fork. You adjust.
Then you start over again with step 1: lift a forkful of honey-smothered peas to your mouth. It worked!
So, we do this all the time without thinking about it. We also tend to ignore or bypass it when we start thinking about and trying to make changes in our lives. We get too complicated.
If your life isn’t working, get back to the basics. Use the formula.
Know your outcome
That’s another way of saying, set goals. Know where you’re going. Get very clear about this. Clarity is essential. Write them down, look at them every day. You should be able to rattle off your top 10 or 20 goals without even thinking about them. Try it. Can you do that? If you can’t, then you need to start here.
Take massive action. DO something, even if it turns out to be wrong. How will you know what to adjust if you haven’t DONE anything? Don’t just sit and think about it. You’ll think yourself into old age, in the same chair. In some things, of course, you’ll want to have some basic knowledge about what actions to take. You wouldn’t, for instance, jump off a 10-story building to test your idea of a radical new parachute. Use some common sense.
Notice whether it’s working
Pay attention! Analyze the results of your action. Is it taking you closer to or further away from your desired outcome? Make some wise decisions about what you’ve noticed. It may be that the results aren’t analyzeable at an early stage. But still be aware, and make an intelligent decision about whether or not to continue on the same course.
Change your approach if you need to
Everything you try isn’t going to work, just like with the peas on a fork. So try something new. Don’t just scoop another forkful of peas up and hope for a different outcome. It won’t happen! Use your brain. Get more information, learn a new approach, a new technique. Then go through the steps again.
So there it is. That’s what to do when your life isn’t working. Follow the steps. Don’t run off through the berry patch looking for the magic berry that’s going to instantly transform your life. You don’t have to look very far to find the answers. They’re right in front of you, right now.