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The Hardest Part About Change is Taking Action

The Hardest Part About Change is Taking Action

I honestly don’t think that anyone out there really strives for mediocrity in every facet of their lives. There are some people that are content with their situation in life, but everyone has something they want to excel in; something they want to be proud of.  Unfortunately, most people don’t have the drive to do something about it. They waste away their time and talents day dreaming of what could be instead of living the life they want.

People are constantly taking the easy road in life: it’s less risky, it doesn’t involve a lot of effort and it’s comfortable. Change requires you to step out of your comfort zone and into the unknown. You have to change yourself, your surroundings even your habits.

Everyone has those moments in life where you look at where you are and the things you’ve done to get there; as a result, you’ll either be proud or disappointed. For those of you who have reached the point where you are wondering, “how did I get here?”, there is still hope.

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Change is difficult. If it were easy, we would all be famous billionaires living in mansions. The fact that it’s hard is what makes change and improvement so great. Improving your life will result in several positive outcomes such as, giving you a better sense of self, making you a better person, mother father, friend, etc. and you’ll find yourself being happier in general. You need to understand that changing yourself for the better won’t take away challenges in your life—it will just prepare you to be able to face them.

If you have tried to change in the past and failed, don’t quit. You can still change and start making a difference in your life. The following tips will get you set on the path to action. When you do these things, you are preparing yourself to do more than just dream about the life you want; you are getting yourself on the path to achieving it. Use these tips as guidelines to make the changes in your life that you want to see.

The first step toward changing is knowing what you want to change and why.

Take the time to sit down and write down your goals. Also write down why you want to change; make this as in-depth as you can because it will be a foundation for you. This is something you will be able to go back to when you are feeling like it’s too hard or you have forgotten why it’s important.

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Tell people your goals.

It can be embarrassing for some people to share with others what’s in their heart; but it’s necessary. In order to change, you have to be held accountable. Letting someone else know what you are trying to do will ensure that you have someone to answer to. Make sure this person is someone who will continue to encourage you and isn’t afraid to ask how things are moving along.

Replace bad habits with good ones.

Stopping something cold turkey is hard, so it’s best to replace the unwanted habit with something positive. If you have a major addiction, there are other steps you will have to take. If it’s just a bad habit, such as looking at Facebook too much, replace that with something like going for a walk around the block. If you are trying to stick within a budget, play a game with your family instead of going shopping.  Find something positive to do that will replace the negative things in your life.

Change is not easy, but it’s easier when you have someone to do it with.

Find a partner, coach, friend or family member who might be in the same situation as you. If you want to start working out, set up times when the two of you can go exercise together. If you want to get up earlier, call each other in the morning and encourage one another to get up and get moving. Whatever changes you want to make, find a way to include someone else in them. You will be each other’s support, can hold one another accountable for what you do or don’t do.

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Get rid of distractions.

There are things everywhere in our houses, our workplaces, and even our schools that can and will distract us from changing into the kind of people we want to be. Our phones, computers, iPads, etc. are all wonderful tools that we have at our disposal, but they can also hinder us. We spend so much time texting, emailing and checking various social media platforms. That is time that could be used doing something productive. Limit the amount of time you spend on the computer. Set an alarm and when it goes off, you’re done.

Turn off the TV.

I know so many people who have the TV on in the background while they are trying to get stuff done. I am guilty of this. In the past I would turn on a movie while I was trying to work or clean the house, but every time, I would find myself sitting on the couch watching instead of being up and moving. I decided to listen to audio books instead: that way I don’t have anything visual distracting me from the things I need to get done but I still have something entertaining or educational to listen to.

Only say positive things to yourself.

When you fail it’s easy to point out everything you did wrong, but that is so discouraging. Instead, say to yourself, “I can do hard things.”  You have the ability to change, you just have to believe in yourself. Don’t beat yourself down.

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Serve other people.

It’s funny how service works: you go out expecting to help someone else in need and you end up helping yourself. When you serve others, you feel better about yourself, you make a difference in someone’s life, and you give back to the community.

Recognize the good things you do, no matter how small.

Many people might skip this step because it feels arrogant and prideful. IT’S NOT! Changing yourself is about evaluating where you are in life, what you’re doing and why you’re doing those things. When you make a change, even if it’s something simple, acknowledge it, don’t brush it off like it doesn’t mean anything. It means everything!  It means that you’re actually doing it, you’re changing.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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