I hear people complain all the time about how they don’t have this, or how they wish they had that. What I find interesting is that, when I ask them what they’re doing about it, they usually hum and haw and make up some sort of excuse about why “now’s not a good time for change.”
Well, news flash – there’s never a good time for change. We’re creatures of habit, we hate change by default. But if you want things to be different in your life, you need to do things differently. I saw a great comic the other day; in it, a leader stands on a stage asking an audience, “Who wants change?” Everybody raised their hand. Then, in a second image, the same leader asked the same audience, “Who wants to change?” Crickets. Everyone had their eyes to the floor. Two images, one striking message.
Change starts with you. And there’s three things you can do to bring it about.
Work for it
Whether it be a better job, a new house, or a better relationship with your family, you’ve got to be the one to make the first move. Start by clearly articulating what it is that you want. Be as detailed as possible. When you’re done, ask yourself why you want that, then write the answer down. Then ask why again. Keep doing that until you get to a root cause (spoiler alert – it usually boils down to the pursuit of happiness). This is important because you need to understand whether what you originally thought you wanted will actually get you to your ultimate goal, or whether you just thought it would.
When you’ve worked that out, and you know what it is you want, then it’s time to map out the steps you’ll need to take to get there. There’s no room for ambiguity here. If you don’t know how to go about one of the steps, you add in a step saying that you’ll research that.
Take changing careers, for example. If you want to change careers, you probably need to start by building some new skills. But how do you know which skills to build? First, you asses your current skillset. Then you research your desired career to see which skills are most important there. Then you see which skills you’re missing from that list. From there, you can research how to acquire those skills – maybe it’s a community centre, maybe it’s school, maybe it’s YouTube.
Beyond skills, you’ll probably also need a network of people who might be able to help you break into the industry. So where do you find those people, and how do you get them to help you? Research it. You get where I’m going with all this?
If you’re missing one piece of the puzzle, write down what you don’t know, and figure out how to learn it. This is all part of the work you need to personally do to bring about change.
There’s another element to getting what you want, though.
Ask for it
I haven’t read The Secret, but I get the basic premise of it, which is that thinking about certain things will bring them into your life.
I don’t buy it.
What I do buy, however, is that being vocal about what it is you’re trying to accomplish can help you get there. Not because the universe will hear you and somehow mystically realign things for you, but because I believe that people tend to be kind, generous and helpful, on average. That, and also because talking about it subconsciously increases your determination to get there. It keeps your antennae tuned to opportunities to help you hit your goals.
But here’s the thing: people can’t help you if they don’t know what you’re looking for.
I was given a piece of advice early on in my career that I’ll always be grateful for: if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s so simple, but it’s also so powerful. The lesson is that you can be doing the best work in the world, but that doesn’t mean that alone will get you to where you want to go. For starters, the right people need to know about that good work you’ve been doing. And beyond that, they need to know where you’re trying to go with your career, so they can help you get there. Your manager isn’t a mind-reader – you’ve got to help them help you!
The same is true for other things. Whether it be networking, building a business or anything else that requires help from others, you’ve got to tell people what you’re working on, and you’ve got to tell them what help you’d like from them.
Give Before you Receive
I do believe that there is a natural balance to things out there, including for social capital. You can’t just take, take and take from others without giving. It’s like a bank account. You have to make some deposits before you can withdraw anything, right? Well when it comes to people, you should try to add value to others before asking for favours from them.
Sometimes you’ll get favours, and other times you won’t – either way, in my opinion this is the right way to ask for help from people. You’ll be able to accept assistance without feeling any form of guilt for doing so.
Wrapping it Up
Change is hard. I get it. But if you want change, you need to be willing to make changes. If that’s not the case for you, then you need to ask yourself how badly you truly want whatever it is you think you want. If you want it bad enough, you’ll put the work and message out there to make it happen.
Do you have a story about how you worked hard to bring positive change into your life? Share it with us in the comments section. We’re all trying to make things happen, and reading some examples can be a great motivator!