Why wait until the new year to make a grand resolution for your greater self? Ready to turn the page to the chapter of the adventure story you are truly meant to live? Want to overcome what Charles Duhigg dubs your “automatic pilot” and flourish?
Warning: “What gets in the way of being great is being good at something” ~ Jim Collins, From Good to Great
This may seem childish yet you’re most likely to make that move permanent by adopting two powerfully simple practices. Picture your specific and compelling reward for succeeding. Envision other rewards for each step of success along the way.
One talent to hone that yields a priceless reward: Reinforce your innate grit by visualizing a boring, irritating or fear-provoking situation or person you will manage better or not have to experience at all?
Here are eight steps that have proved fruitful for me — when I’ve actually followed them.
1. Find Your True North To Feel More Fulfilled
Choose an altered role and quest that you are feeling pulled to live. We all have “shoulds” thrust upon us, some be well-meaning family members, colleagues and friends who feel they need us to be a certain way. Why struggle to fit into an “ought to” role for which you are not well-cast?
See your life as a movie and consider what scenes, scripts, characters and plot lines enable you to flourish, bringing out the best side in yourself and those around you. Recall when the opposites of those elements has happened more than once for you. This chapter can be about serving your true self. “Our roles in life and problems we face that remain persistently insolvable should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way,” wrote philosopher, Alan Watts in The Book: The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.
2. Use Your Internal Homing Device
“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves,” wrote Sir Edmund Hillary. Look inside yourself for your “Homing Device” — your most powerful motivation or passionate interest that can be related to your goal. As Dr. Beverly Potter wrote in Finding a Path With a Heart: How to Go From Burnout to Bliss, “When we pay attention to our homing devices and follow their guidance, we invariably feel right about ourselves and in perfect harmony with people and activities in which we are involved in the moment.”
3. Picture Your Greater Mission And The Adventure It Will Be –With Others
Afraid you’ll fail? Supplant your fear with a greater motivation. ”A vivid imagination,” wrote Aristotle, “compels the whole body to obey it.” Émille Coué wrote, “It is the imagination and not the will that is the dominating faculty of man. It is a mistake to advise people to train their wills; they should learn to control and direct their imaginations.” Hint: Rather than talking about what you are giving up or how you might fail, reflect upon and discuss the benefits you clearly see.
4. Surround Yourself With Mutual Support Systems
To keep your resolve, surround yourself with those who want you to succeed – and who are also on a path of practice. Agree on shared and individual behaviors that reinforce your mutual support. The authors of Influencer found that is the only way to permanently change. In The Healing Brain, psychologist Robert Ornstein and physician David Sobel found, “that the brain’s primary purpose is not to think, but to guard the body from illness and despair.
Your brain cannot do its job of protecting your body without human contact.” Some unexpected allies along the way may be “consequential strangers” with whom you can practice the evolving you.
5. Involve Your Senses To Stay On Your Path
“Thought is behavior in rehearsal,” wrote Sigmund Freud. Tie your goal for your new chapter to your frequent experiences. Write it down. Say it out loud. Associate it with things you see, hear, smell, taste and touch every day. Plant sticky messages on your bathroom mirror, your car dashboard and smart device screen. Smell your shampoo and connect it with living that chapter. Brush your teeth and feel the motion towards it. See the result in the shape of your doorknob. As Beverly Sills once told a reporter, “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t really try.”
6. Notice Where You Get Detoured
“The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn,” wrote David Russell. Notice your pattern for avoiding your course towards your new life. What activities do you use to get sidetracked? What time of day or day of the week is it most likely to happen? What else is happening that can numb you into avoidance? What colleagues and friends help or hinder you on your path? Conversely, when are your stronger moments?
Discover these patterns now and you will be more powerfully productive towards this and all the next goals you set for yourself. But don’t be too hard on yourself when you’re not perfect. As Charles A. Garfield wrote in Peak Performance, “On course doesn’t mean perfect. On course means that even when things don’t go perfectly, you are in the right direction.”
7. Re-Confirm That You’re Actually On The Right Path
As you practice your altered role, parts of you that you have let atrophy or kept invisible to others may be coming to light. Are you pulling in people and opportunities that enable you to flourish? As Jean Shinoda Bolen wrote in The Tao of Psychology, “Synchronistic events can assure us when we are on the right life path; and advise us when we are not; at the most profound level, they assure us that we are not mere observers but always participants in an interconnected cosmic web.” Simply speaking, do you enjoy your life more?
8. Plan A Grand Reward
The bigger the change, the larger the reward you deserve. Enable others who supported you, to savor it with you. Get more insights on exactly how from Jeremy Dean’s book, Making Habits, Breaking Habits.
Who knows? Since behavior is contagious to the third degree, you don’t know which friends, and friends of your friends’ friends might be moved, by your example, to also turn the page to the next chapter of the adventure story they were meant to live.