We’ve all seen the articles. “15 small things successful people do everyday” “The 6 things the most productive people do everyday” “5 things happy people do everyday”
I enjoy them. I don’t always agree with them but they are quick to read and digest. Many sound like common sense, describing actions or behaviours that we know, intellectually and instinctively, would make a positive difference to how we live our lives. So how come we’re not all doing them and being successful, productive and happy all the time?
In the opening sections of executive coach Marshall Goldsmith’s book “Triggers“, he acknowledges that some readers complain “I didn’t read anything here that I don’t already know”. His response? “True, but I bet you read plenty here that you don’t already do.”
There is a BIG difference between what we know we should do or even what we want to do and what we actually do. It’s the end of January so I’m sure I don’t need to mention the statistics on broken New Years Resolutions to prove this point!
Let’s look past the strategies, mindsets and activities for a moment. The common theme with these articles and, as it happens, a key element of Goldsmith’s book, is the frequency; everyday.
Every day. Not just today and tomorrow or this month. Not twice a week. Every single day, including weekends!
I have quite a strong reaction to the thought of doing something every day. It feels like a combination of restriction and monotony. It feels like it would be a chore.
I enjoy variety and value autonomy. Doing something every day, is so far removed from my normal way of operating (or so I tell myself), it would only be imposed on me by someone else. My mental rebellion begins and I intellectualise all the reasons daily actions can’t/won’t work for me.
On reflection, there are plenty of things I do every day that don’t feel like a chore. From social niceties such as washing, cleaning my teeth and getting dressed, through to those I have consciously chosen like sending my children off to school with the words “Have a fun/wonderful day!”
I am physically and emotionally capable of doing something every day so I can’t use that as an excuse. None of these things feel restrictive or monotonous because they are natural. They are just what I do, how I behave and who I am. Making a successful change, therefore, means doing something different or new until it feels natural.
This is where size matters. We tend to think that change has to be BIG to make a big difference. We are looking for the “light bulb” moment or the life-changing decision. As exciting as this may sound, it can also feel overwhelming and scary.
In my experience big, positive differences often come from small, subtle changes. The articles named above and Goldsmith’s book seem to agree. Things like how we treat ourselves, how we make decisions and how we speak to people all make a huge difference. And changes in these areas are pretty easy to integrate in to our lives every day until they become part of who we are.
So if you want to make a positive change in your life this year, try the articles above, read Goldsmith’s book or connect with me and consider what you will do every day to make a difference.