Date: 20 Sep 2012 0 Comment Blog Posted by: Ben Hanania
(I know you’ve heard from me a lot lately but sometimes I just have a lot to say! Thanks for hanging with me!!)
I’ve been preparing for a talk at Job Search Focus Group tomorrow (April 16th). As it seems to happen, this has stirred the universe and numerous “change” lessons have popped up. I wanted to share one with you.
Be warned though, this is a sad story.
My friend called me yesterday to ask if she could see me next week. I told her to come right over. I hadn’t seen her for a while and, I have to admit, the last time I did, she was a bit of a mess. I haven’t seen her since. She’s still a mess-even worse.
She talked, I listened. I kept thinking, “What can I possibly do to help her? This is beyond bad and she has nowhere else to turn. How can I help?”
I still don’t know the complete answer to that last question but here’s what came up that I wanted to share:
ONE STEP AT A TIME
She’s in deep doo-dah on many fronts. Her family and friends are telling her to “just get on with her life”. Yes, that sounds simple but it’s actually very paralyzing advice. She’d had a pretty good life until she didn’t. She’s not prepared for this kind of change so instead of getting on with it, she freezes, retreats, probably drinks and/or self-medicates, blames, makes excuses, feels guilty, blames some more and, in general, continues to spiral downward.
She’s used all her life-lines. No one will throw out another until they see that she’s ready to take hold. Sadly, for her, I may be her last chance and I’m not sure she liked what I had to say:
STOP. BREATHE. Commit to a small step. And I mean SMALL. Do it.
Everyone is telling her to get a job. Well, she has a million excuses of why getting a full time, $25/hr job is impossible. OK. Get a smaller job. Find something that is part-time, flexible and makes $10 an hour. More excuses.”My credit is bad, I have to drive my kids here and there, $10 isn’t enough, etc.” OK. Create a job. Sell jewelry or make-up. (She has lots of sales experience). “Too many people are already selling stuff.” Yeah, but not very many do it well. DO IT WELL! More doubt and excuses and on and on.
Before she left I suggested that she simply not take a drink tonight and call me on Monday. Could she commit to that if I was willing to act as an accountability partner? We’ll see.
When you’re faced with difficult change take a deepbreathe and commit to steps 1-3:
Find someone to hold you accountable, to listen but also to not take your bull…t. This is not an advice-giver or a problem-solver but it is someone who cares and that you can listen to. You have to solve your own problems. We all have our good reasons for not making the change we know is needed. I’m certainly not exempt. (I need to lose some weight and finish this damn book I started among other things!)
Take one very small step at a time….but take the step. If the step you’ve identified is too big (no matter how small it may look to others) back it down. Still can’t do it? Back it down some more. (Rather than commiting to writing a book, I’m committing to writing blog and newsletter posts. That’s easy for me. At some point, I’ll put them all together into some version of a book…..or maybe I’ll have 2 or 3!! As for the weight-I’m working on it! Jenifer’s wrap (from It Works!) helped with the first 5 lbs, now I’ve added drinking more water. Next? We’ll see!)
Be empowered by the success of the one very small step. CELEBRATE it like it was a huge deal because it is!
Then, as you’re ready here’s some more change advice:
Take another step…and then….another…..and another.
When (not if) you slip, you won’t have far to fall. Simply get up and re-take that small step again.
FOCUS on small steps NOT on the big picture. I know this is very contrary to what I usually say about vision, purpose and strategy. One of my friend’s big roadblocks is that her vision of working again is simply way too big for her right now. It is absolutely terrifying to make that big a change so she does nothing….or worse, backslides.
Know this: YOU CAN ALWAYS FIND A SMALL STEP TO TAKE. I one time suggested to one of my clients that she simply do her nails and keep them looking nice for a week. It made a big difference. She felt better about herself. Next, she got her hair cut and colored. Then, she dressed in something other than sweats while she was doing her homework I had assigned. (Eventually, she found a great guy, got married and completely changed her “change strategy” but that’s a story for another time!!!)
PRACTICE! Being change-ready takes practice. Practice on something small and insignificant. Make your bed everyday, walk the dog down to the end of the driveway, eat an apple a day, do your nails, drink one drink instead of 3, smoke 3 cigs instead of 10 (call my friend, Mary Kacaba, hypnotherapyst, for help on these issues!).
Be patient. Of course, once you identify and commit to change you want it to happen now!! It takes 21 days of continuous new behavior to change a habit. If you take smaller steps, you’ll see small but measurable improvement faster. Remember to celebrate the small victories!!
Finally, I have a favor to ask of you. If you pray, will you please say a prayer for Peg’s friend. God will know who you’re talking about.