Welcome back from your busy holidays. I sincerely hope that it was a time of rich connections with loved ones, rejuvenating rest, and meaningful reflection. If you are like me, though, you are probably ready to get back into “productivity mode.” Back to work. Back to normal.
This thought caused me to question: Just what is “normal,” anyway? So much of the frustration and anxiety we experience seems to stem from the fact that we are constantly being pulled away from what we consider known, normal, and predictable. At the heart of Off Balance On Purpose philosophy is the notion that this unsettled condition is the only constant in your life. Off Balance is the active mode of achievement, growth, and engaged living. This is a posture and reality that you must embrace and welcome. It’s normal.
As you start the New Year, you might envision some changes for your life that will promote better health, greater prosperity, or the fulfillment of your deeply desired goals and aspirations. I applaud and encourage you to follow through with action. And I wish to assist you with some tools to organizing your thinking so that your actions will be consistent and unforced. It is impossible to act in a manner inconsistent with your thinking. Personal improvement always begins with improved thoughts.
First, dismiss the idea of New Years’ Resolutions. They usually do not work. To learn a better way, you may wish to revisit last year’s message about New Years’ Evolution. Now that’s a realistic and organic path to positive changes.
Secondly, as you envision and plan for a new and improved version of you, whatever that may be, you must refocus your thinking.
We tend to focus on the change aspect, or a departure from the way things are right now. We ask: What must we do differently, stop doing, or start doing to change our conditions? This is scary stuff because, with this mind set, we become obsessed with new and foreign requirements and obligations. We are on unfamiliar ground, making demands of ourselves that are intimidating. This mind set plays against your strengths and sets you up for challenges and disappointments.
Instead of viewing your goal as something that is distant from you and requiring the completion of many arduous and painful tasks, try thinking about it in a more empowering way. View your goal (the end result of your efforts – the desired outcome you are passionate about achieving) as a “new normal” for you. Your quest is not a journey into the unknown, but a return to the way you are in a “normal” state – the way things should be, naturally.
For example, if your desire is to lose 15 pounds by March 1st, you must see yourself 15 pounds lighter and view this as a completely normal condition. Your “new normal” involves eating in a way that you gain energy from your food instead of lethargy. Your “new normal” is someone who loves to move and exercise and does so regularly. Instead of hunting for the closest parking spot at Wal-Mart, you “normally” part at the back of the lot, as you enjoy the extra walk and understand the benefit that physical activity provides you. You normally take the stairs instead of the elevator. You inwardly chuckle at the creative choices you make that reflect your normal condition – someone who loves life and loves health and becomes an inspiration to others who desire it.
Or, if your goal is to reduce your credit card debt and increase your savings, then you are ready for a “new normal.” You are becoming someone who normally comparison shops to get the best deals on items you really need. You are someone who doesn’t buy things that aren’t necessary and, instead, pays down the cards and debt. You inform yourself with the best information you can find, such as Clark Howard’s consumer advice, or Susie Orman’s financial planning strategies. You are someone who seeks out additional revenue streams and enjoys the satisfaction of making responsible financial choices. You become the person others go to for ideas in these areas.
If this all sounds a bit fantastic, it is. But it works! It is absolutely the way we create lasting change, and have fun doing it!
1. Define your new normal. Start with the statement, “It is now normal for me to _________.” Fill in the blank with your desired outcome. Then get specific and list all the behaviors that you will normally engage in to support that outcome. Have fun with this and go into details about what you think, how you act, and how you feel as a result of your new normal condition. This step will help you to experience the emotions and rewards before they even happen.
2. Identify your new peers and role models. What may seem like a stretch for you is already a normal condition for someone else. It’s important for you to find these people and get to know them. They are your new friends, supporters, encouragers, and role models. You’ll likely discover a whole community exists to aid your efforts as you transition into your new normal. Accept their help and follow their example.
3. Act “as if.” As I said earlier, your transition to a new normal begins with your thinking. But it takes action to manifest those thoughts into reality. Every day will present countless choices. Embrace each decision as an opportunity to take greater ownership of your new normal condition, and it will be yours before you know it!
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories. Feel free to email me, and I will respond personally. Here’s to a 2007 that redefines what is “normal” for all of us in new, exciting, transformational ways!
With encouragement always,