5 changes we can make in 2014

Woman thinking about changes we can make in 2014

By Paul Clifford

As a New Year is now here many of us think about changes we can make in 2014. Whilst getting more sleep, spending more time with friends and doing more charity work might be good suggestions, I’ve decided to go with 5 changes we can make in 2014 that you might not have thought of before or seen on many other blogs. I hope some resonate with you.

1. Give up things gradually

Are you a smoker, chocoholic or a TV addict?  Want to give them up in 2014?  No, not just for a couple of days, but for the long term?  If so then try tapering off – having a little less each day until you have reached your goal (which may be total abstinence in the case of smoking, or just having a little, in the case of chocolate or TV).  Tapering off is not the only strategy but it may be the one that works for you.

Some people try to give things up cold turkey and simply can’t do it.  I remember doing a detox one day and becoming nearly homicidal.  It was too massive a change all at once.  If I want to reduce my chocolate intake I do it gradually, reducing it by one family block of Cadbury’s per day (just joking!).  The reason giving up things gradually works is the day by day difference is minimal, making adjustment easier.  Try it for yourself.

2. Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise.

You simply cannot do everything.  Some things have to give.  If you are serious about not being overwhelmed, keep your major goals in focus as much as possible and complete the tasks that will have the greatest impact on reaching those goals first.  If that means putting other tasks off for now or not doing them at all, then so be it.   Where we often come up unstuck is when we do low priority tasks first because they are easier.  All this does is increase our stress levels because we’ve now got less time to do the bigger things.  Bite the bullet and do the big ticket items first.

3. Learn success from others.

Some of my most effective behaviours have been learned by watching others around me and incorporating some of their style into my way of doing things.  When I am patient I am often recalling the responses of a previous boss who still has this amazing ability to remain unflustered when others would be going postal.  When I am conversing with people I don’t know I am often channelling one of my best friends who has an ability to put his own needs second and just sit and listen.  If you want to improve at something, find someone who is good at it and study their behaviour.  Find out specifically what they do that creates success and copy those behaviours, but in a way that is true to you.

4. Ask for help

Too many times I find myself in a kind of paralysis about something.  I’m in my head trying to figure out the answer and I’m going over it and over it and coming up with nothing.  Finally I decide to ask someone and I get this gem of an idea.  The next thing I say to myself is “why didn’t I ask someone sooner”?  The answer to that question is that I’m either too proud or too embarrassed to ask.  I say to myself “they are going to think I am an idiot” or “I should know this”.  The reality is that many people are probably asking themselves similar questions and are relieved when someone else has the courage to ask the question.  So the next time you can’t work something out, just ask.  Seek some perspectives from those around you and you’ll probably find some gold nuggets and get yourself out of the painful and unproductive paralysis at the same time.

5. Lead don’t follow

It can be easy to say “Why should I put myself out?” But if we all did that nothing would get done.  Every day you have an opportunity to be the person who steps up and says “I will take this on myself, I will be the one who will make the changes that improves things for the better”.  Most people will sit back and simply wait for things to happen.  It’s a big risk and often a personal imposition to be a leader.  Rather than resenting the imposition, see it as an opportunity to make things change the way you want them to change.  You’ll gain the respect of others but far more importantly the respect of yourself.

Remember to leave a comment. 

Paul Clifford is a psychologist with organisational consulting firm FBG Group. 


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