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Why You Should Stop Reading Things About Change And Start To Change

Why You Should Stop Reading Things About Change And Start To Change

Do you have your driver’s license? Do you know how to ride a bike? How about how to use a Smartphone? These must probably seem like silly examples, but bear with me a little. If you only study the theory side of driving a car, you wouldn’t be able to drive, right?  If you only read about learning how to ride, you would probably fall off the first few times you tried. If you read the manual on your new phone, you won’t suddenly be able to master all of its functions.

The same applies with change: you can read a million self-help books, which will give you advice, tools, motivation, and guidance, but unless you put the book down and apply what you learn, your efforts will remain fruitless. Have you ever wondered why there is a wealth of information out there, yet so many people struggle to apply it? Because that is the hardest part, change, and it happens when we stop reading and start doing.

Here are 5 reasons why you should stop reading things about change and start to change now.

1.  Activating the information

When it comes to change, reading alone will certainly not get you any new results; you need to activate what you have learned. You might read some great information that is really motivating, find some great tips, feel inspired, and then… you put the book down and what really changes? What are you doing differently?

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If you are reading a book about how to be more confident, for example, but you don’t apply any of the suggestions, what good is it? Will you become more confident? Unless certain information is applied, it remains useless.

2.  Change is habitual

When you want to change, you must understand that change is habitual. It is not about reading facts, memorizing them, and having a good understanding. I believe one of the reasons many individuals can easily read many books on change, but then struggle to change successfully is because of the resistance one feels when trying to change a habit.

Most change requires change some type of habit or way of doing something. However, your brain is actually predisposed to resisting change, so understandably, it isn’t going to be easy. You have a natural tendency to move away from change and anything that puts you out of your comfort zone, the new or the unknown. You need to do more than just read if you want to change what isn’t working.

3.  You will never know if it works until you try

Perhaps you have read some amazing techniques and tools that you would like to apply to your life. Imagine, you test a few techniques out, and to your surprise, they just really don’t resonate with you.

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This is normal; what works for someone else might not work for you, but you would never know unless you first tried. Change is about trial and error, and reading alone makes this impossible. Until you put the book down and try to change, you will never know.

4.  Change is ongoing

Change can be challenging for some and easier for others; however, change is certainly ongoing. It isn’t a once-off effort; you need to try, test, monitor, and test. Go through what is working and what isn’t working until you have successfully changed what you initially set out to do.

You can’t just make one attempt. Perhaps you need to make a few attempts, but either way, you can’t attempt anything if you are simply reading.

5.  Reading alone gives you a false sense of accomplishment and effort

Many individuals feel that if they are making the effort to read, study, and delve into hundreds of articles that will be enough to change. You might carry a false sense that if you are reading, you are making a change, and therefore, things will change.

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If you find you are always reading but you never take action and don’t know why, explore the possibility that you might be procrastinating because you resist change, even though you can see the benefits. Perhaps as you are resisting change, you spend a lot of time reading about it, but not taking a first step because you are not ready. Spend some time reflecting on this if this resonates with you.

MOVING FORWARD

Hopefully I have convinced you to stop reading and start doing. What’s next? Well, it certainly depends on what you are reading, but here are some general guidelines that should give you some targeted direction moving forward.

1. Get crystal clear on what you want to change/improve and why

What exactly do you want to change and why? How will your life be different if you make this change successfully?
First, start with making one change at a time and put all of your energy into reaching it. Secondly, get clear on the why. Change is never easy; you must expect to face some form of resistance, so you need to know exactly why you are doing what you are doing and use this to motivate yourself when you need it most. Give yourself a reward as well when you reach your objective.

2. Write down the ways in which things will be different

Change implies doing things differently, so what exactly will you be doing differently? You must be clear on not only what you want to improve, but what you need to do to make it happen. Write down what you usually do (how it is now) and then your ‘new’ way of doing (what will be different).

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3. The more prepared you are, the better your chances of success

If you want to boost your chances of real change, consider these 4 important questions:

  • What resources do you have to support you in reaching this objective?
  • What resources will you need that you don’t currently have?
  • What potential obstacles could come up?
  • What can you do to overcome them?

Monitor your progress, tweak what isn’t working, and build on your success until you make the change successfully.

What are you waiting for?  Stop reading things about change and start to change. This is the only way you are going to see different results; thinking alone will not cut it, so you need to take a step forward and make things happen.

You cannot expect to read alone and then experience different results, as this is not possible. Are you going to invest more time and money in reading or are you going to invest your time in activating what you know and getting better results? You always have a choice!

More by this author

Kirstin O´Donovan

Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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