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SALT LAKE CITY — When you desire change but seem to be stuck in 6 feet of emotional mud, try this three-step check. It’s simple, doable and creates a jump-start to change.
Be still. To know what we need or want to change, we need to get comfy in a quiet place, even for 15 minutes. Hire a sitter, ask your spouse, trade with a friend. Take time to ponder and settle your heart about your life.
Lao Tse Tung shares, “Be still like a great mountain, but flow like a great river.” As you give yourself permission to listen to inner feelings and inner thoughts, your mind and soul will share.
Step 1: What’s working?
Too often we want to change, and then focus on all the things wrong with ourselves and our lives. Start with the good. Begin with where you’re having success. List at least three to five things you are doing or have done well. Ask yourself: What challenges have I overcome in the past year, in my life? What habits have I let go? What new habits have I kept? What good traits do I have? You will draw on these positives as you begin to make changes.
Step 2: What’s not working?
Consider the top stressors that make it difficult for you to function or feel joy. Is it finances? A relationship? A personal trait, like being disorganized or emotional shopping? Again, write them down, as if observing yourself on a chair. Be honest, gentle and candid with yourself. No bad grade will be assessed; allow yourself to be and feel what isn’t working and see it objectively without passing judgment.
Step 3: What can I do differently?
Years ago I created a change formula: internal + external = eternal. In making a change, start with either internal or external but to make it lasting you need both.
For an internal change, consider “What is the why?” Determine the root of the desire or stressor; from where does it really stem? Then find the place where you can begin. Work backward. For example, if you say "I’m 20 pounds overweight," why is that? "It's because I eat things that aren’t helpful." Why is that? "Because I get stressed and bored and angry and that’s my go-to to feel good." Then you can say, "Oh, emotional triggers. OK, I can deal with that."
For an external change focus on a new habit. In that same scenario, maybe the person starts with a new eating plan that’s doable and practices until the internal mojo kicks in.
One note about a new habit: Remember, choose one habit to focus on like a laser beam until you feel a shift. Each time you practice the habit, you’re moving that life-change flywheel.
In his book "Good to Great," author Jim Collins says what took companies from good to great was starting and consistently moving that flywheel to success. “Was it the first push, the second? The fifth? No! It was all of them added together in an overall accumulation of effort applied in a consistent direction.” Each choice matters.
This brief back-to-basics evaluation is magic. Choose a goal, achieve it for a week, then evaluate it at the end with these three questions. You’ll get unstuck and more focused to find your feel-good place.
Connie Sokol is an author, speaker, TV contributor and mother of seven. Contact her at www.conniesokol.com.