A while back, I spoke at a series of women’s conferences with my friend, Dr. Kimberly Ventus-Darks. Each day she started the conference with the sentence, “If you always do what you always did… You’ll always get what you always got.”
Think about that! If you want something that you’ve never had; if you want to be someone that you don’t feel you are; if you want to go somewhere that you’ve never been; if you want to do something that you’ve never done…you have to do something differently.
As we start each new day, we have an opportunity to do just that. If we want some changes in our lives; If we want it to be more than it ever has been, then we are going to have to do some things we’ve never done!!!
Here is my 5-step plan for succeeding at whatever it is you choose…whether it’s an organization, a career or a relationship.
Step #1 DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT
What would you like the end result to be? What is the dream? If money were not an object, and the world were perfect… how would it look to you? You are the architect and the builder of your life… And remember, there aren’t architects or builders that would go out and just start throwing up a building or a home without knowing what it will look like when it’s finished.
Step #2 MAKE A PLAN
Look at where you want to go and where you are now. The space between the two is called “The Gap.” How will you fill that gap? You need to make a plan of exactly what you will do.
These plans are called goals and any right now is the perfect time to set some. Many people call it Strategic Planning. You call it whatever you want. Just do it.
There is an old saying that “None of us plan to fail, We just fail to plan”.
Be sure that your goals are SMART, meaning that they are:
Agreed Upon (by the people who have to help you carry them out)
When we achieve our goals…our self-esteem goes up… and when our self-esteem goes up… our success goes up!!!
Step #3 IDENTIFY THE PITFALLS
Now this may sound negative, but we must look at what might go wrong so we can have a contingency plan. We have to be willing to cope with and create change when needed. Change is not a maybe. Change is the only constant we have. Everything is changing.
Think of change as a vehicle that is out of control and coming down the road. You are standing in that road and the vehicle is coming right at you. You have three choices about what you can do:
You can just stand there and let the change run over you and leave you in a worse condition than you were before you started.
You can jump out of the way and let the change go right past you. It’s a good possibility that you let it pass you by and it was headed right where you wanted to go.
You can start to run along side the change, jump in the driver’s seat, take control of that change and drive it right where you want it to go.
If we want people to follow us through the change, then we must be the change that we want to see happen.
I was fortunate enough to be working for a chain of newspapers in South Africa during the end of apartheid and I had the opportunity to see Nelson Mandela released from prison. I also heard his State of the Union address. And I watched as this great man demonstrated what he wanted his followers to do, which was “to forgive and put the hatred aside in order to move forward in peace.” He then demonstrated the change he wanted a nation to follow.
Step #4 TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF
What you get out of life is what you put into it!
Do you have knowledge that you can share? Are you good at decorating? Can you write a press release? Do you have beautiful handwriting? When you use any skill or talent that you have for the benefit of others, you will also benefit. Use your skills. Use your talents.
Surround yourself with positive people. In the average workplace, we hear an average of 5 negative statements every hour. It takes between 14 and 20 positive statements to overcome one negative statement. If you hear people being negative….get away from them. Or just say “Thank you for sharing.” But don’t participate.
And remember this, about seventy per cent (70%) of the negativity we hear comes out of our own mouths. We say things like, “Ain’t it awful! No one cares about us. They planned another awful program. The speaker was terrible. It’s a wonder I even came…the traffic was so bad getting here. At one point, I just wanted to turn around and go home, but you know what’s at home. I just didn’t feel like I could deal with that tonight…etc… etc… etc…”
Your thoughts create your feelings. Your feelings create your behavior. When you are acting or talking negative… it tells the world that you are not feeling good about yourself and the reason you aren’t is because you aren’t thinking correctly.
Change your thoughts. Practice affirmations. Practice empowering self talk. Practice saying nice things to other people. When you say it, you are putting positives in your own atmosphere as well as in the atmosphere of others.
Step #5 BE THANKFUL
We need to be grateful for what we have. We have been so spoiled for so long. Some of us get upset if we don’t have an Anne Kline watch, a Ralph Lauren blazer, or a Mercedes to drive. “It’s just not fair. Other people get those things. What about me?”
Start being thankful for what you do have and give yourself some gold stars. When I was 16 years old, my dad taught me to give myself gold stars when I have a good day. It feels really good when you stick that star in your daily planner each day. If you have more than one success that day, give yourself more than one gold star.
Last year, my life partner, John, gave me a necklace with a gold star pendant and said “You are the best wife I could ever have!” On the back he engraved, “Until the 12th of Never”. As you know, that’s a long, long time. John had a heart attack and died this past year and I miss him. My point here is that I am grateful that I had him for the time I did. He taught me what a really good relationship can be.
Sometimes where we get to is not where or what we imagined. Be thankful anyway. There are people all over the world that would like to be in your shoes, would like to have your job, would even like to have your problems…instead of their own.
As Dr. Robert Schuller would say,
“Today’s responsibilities are tomorrow’s possibilities.”
So I ask “Have you set your goals for this year? Have you made your plan? Are you prepared for the changes which will take place in your life?” If not, remember Dr. Kim’s words, “If you always do what you’ve always done…you’ll always get what you’ve always got. If you want something that you’ve never had…You have to do something that you’ve never done.”