Easier Said Than Done

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Part of what makes us human is our optimism. Even after years and years of failing at something (feel free to point to a yellow sticky note ^^^^), we persist in desiring to make a change as we are sure doing so will be the bring the satisfaction we so dearly seek.

There’s just one problem: easier said than done.

How many times have you yourself made grand announcements of “This time I mean it” or have heard others say, “Today is the start of the brand new ‘me.'”? We all do it because of our intrinsic optimism.

We want a result, so we tell everyone we know that we’re on the path to meeting that goal. (This is the portion of the “easier said” idiom.)

Sometimes, we enlist the help of others by asking, “If you see me doing ________, tell me not because I’ve decided to make a change and that means that I don’t do ________ anymore.” Transferring responsibility, or at the very least answerability on to someone else isn’t really “fair” as it holds someone other than ourselves accountable. Moreover, it rarely works and frequently leads to resentment (on both the one asking and the one asked.)

So what’s a person who is looking to make a change to do?

KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!

Make no grand pronouncements! Don’t do the “said” part of the “easier said than done” doom-filled saying.

So then what?

The first step is analysis of what we think meeting that “goal” will do for us (and perhaps our immediate sphere of influence). If I want to, say, “drink less,”* I should first ask myself what motivates me to desire “drinking less?” Has someone else pressured me to “drink less,” or is this something I myself have placed value on? If I am sure that I’m behind the choice, then I need to ask myself to envision how the future will look if I make that choice and succeed. This is where making a list, on paper, is essential. Go ahead, make a list.

Once we have our list of “potential outcomes,” the second step is to make sure that list is comprehensive and contains the “negative potential outcomes” as well. Again, as optimists by design, we probably only put down all the terrific, i.e., positive, outcomes. If I “drink less,” how will affect the times when I drink? (Think of weddings, ball games, at a fancy dinner.) If I “drink less,” how will affect the feeling I have when (and after) I drink? (Think: Relaxed, sleepy, self-confident.)

And now, the third step is to make the “goal” real by assigning measurable standards. What does “drink less” mean? Less than I do now by volume? By frequency? By percent ethanol? Also it is essential to be critical when assigning standards, because if “drinking less” is the goal, then in order to meet it, you’ll need a standard by which to judge your success. A specific and clear unmodifiable standard.

For anyone who is interested in making a change, these three steps are essential BEFORE making any change. We need to have a foundation upon which to adhere that sticky note. Unless and until you go through this process, success is unlikely.

What would you change which is easier said than done?

Can you refrain from SAYING anything and just put the change under a microscope? See what it feels like to assess whether this is a change that should be pursued by critically looking at yourself and your rationale.

Let us know what your “goal” is in the comments. The let us know whether after going through the three steps, you’re still invested in change.

*Any habit can be used in this analysis

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