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Be it resolved: Will power is one thing, but creating real change requires a chart

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Sam Waltz

Sam Waltz
Founding Publisher

New Year’s resolutions seem to have gone out of favor.

That’s too bad.

Such resolutions are a good thing. They make us more aware – when it’s too easy to be unaware – and they help elevate awareness to intention to action.

As business people, we should get that. We’re used to the variety of strategic concepts that are embedded in the business process . . .

  • Plan your work, and work your plan
  • Management by objective
  • Business planning
  • Mission statement and principles; and more.

Ethicists and theologians used to talk about man’s search for perfection, but even that concept is rarely heard now. And, yet, many of us, in our work, or in our recreation – like golf, or at home – “work on our game,” work at some tactical level to improve ourselves.

“Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray’s classic 1993 romantic comedy, long has been one of my favorite movies. Check it out on www.IMDB.com, the Internet Movie Data Base site.

On one level, it’s pure fantasy entertainment, which is how most people see it – the first time. But, upon seeing it again, and again, one realizes it really is a story about one man’s Zen-like approach to improving himself, to making himself better.

He lives the same day, Feb. 2, Groundhog Day, in seeming infinity, although the movie geeks say it’s more like 365 days times eight years to 34 years. Whichever, it’s a long time.

Improving oneself should not be that hard. Although people do make it hard – too hard.

“Mind-Mapping Your Life: Six Ways to Navigate Change and Create the Life You Really Want” is a workshop I’ve offered on occasion for almost 20 years. In 2002, an anthologist featured it in an article by me in the book, “Thriving in the Midst of Change,” with 19 other consultants’ work.

Cutting to the proverbial chase, putting on your business mindset, grab a piece of paper, or an Excel spreadsheet, and create a graph with three vertical columns and six horizontal columns.

Applying what we have come to know as a “strategic mindset,” the three vertical columns are “now,” “goal,” and “how,” for answering the questions . . .

  • Where am I now?
  • Where do I want to be?
  • How do I get there?

The six horizontal columns are the six areas of our life that shape our destinies . . .

  • Spiritual: Faith & Ethical
  • Physical: Wellness, Fitness & Nutrition
  • Financial: Income, Worth & Asset Creation
  • Relational: Family, Primary & Extended
  • Professional: Work, Business & Career
  • Personal: Growth & Self

But it does require thought. And it benefits from some systemization.

In “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey calls out as a first habit, being proactive, and as a second, beginning with the end in mind. Simple. Intuitively beautiful. And effective.

It’s been said that “a vision without action is a daydream, action without a vision is called a nightmare.”

Norman Cousins, who in 1979 wrote another classic, “Anatomy of an Illness,” focused on the power of the mind to influence outcomes, particularly positive thinking and optimism. It was something he employed throughout his own life, battling chronic illness at the same time as his career took him to the heights of the literary and thought leadership universes.

Understanding the change process may not be critical to my “mind-mapping” process, but it is helpful for those interested in learning more.

Public health psychologists and authors James O. Prochaska, John C. Norcross and Carlo C. DiClemente, in their “Changing for Good: The Revolutionary Program That Explains the Six Stages of Change and Teaches You How to Free Yourself from Bad Habits,” outline these stages of change:

  • Precontemplation-Resisting Change;
  • Contemplation-Change on the Horizon;
  • Preparation-Getting Ready;
  • Action-Time to Move;
  • Maintenance-Staying There; and
  • Recycling-Learning from Relapse.

Finally, it also benefits from some kind of an “accountability partner.” When I had an active fitness routine out of the Central YMCA 30 years ago, guys relied on each other, sometimes with Jan. 1 goals. For some, it kicked off a season of fitness; for others, a lifetime of fitness; for me, back then, well, it was several years of fitness.

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