The First Step to Changing Your Life

Change has one requirement, and it’s not January 1

January 1 is just another day. There’s a year behind it and a year before it. We ascribe supernatural significance to it to effect change in our lives, but if we don’t decide to we’re going to change anything, the day will go right past us. Just like the other 364.

All of the wisdom and best practices you’ve heard about setting goals are there for a reason. They work. Most change doesn’t happen by itself. It needs reinforced.

The status quo exists because we’ve developed habits, either by design or by default. If we aren’t happy with the results we’re currently getting, it’s going to take more than twelve new photos of scenic trains to evoke change. We need a decision.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Africa Studio

My grandfather served in the Army Corps of Engineers in World War II. Like many servicemen, he took up smoking while in the service and brought the habit home with him. He made several unsuccessful attempts to stop smoking, but wasn’t able to quit.

Then one day, he saw my father and uncle pick up candy cigarettes and pretend to smoke like Dad was. He didn’t want his kids to grow up idolizing smoking. That was all the motivation he needed. He decided on the spot to change. He threw out the pack he had and, good to his word, never smoked again.

He didn’t wait for January to roll around again. No SMART attributes, no milestones, no next actions. He had a strong why and adjusted his sails. He decided. He changed.

That’s the key to change: decision. The systems and processes around setting goals only work if you make a decision to change. Without that choice, you’ll go through the motions of change only to end up right back where you started.

Some changes are small. Some are huge. Don’t let that intimidate you. The first step is always the same: decide to change.

The length of the journey shouldn’t put you off. Take that first step! A long journey just means the first step is more rewarding.

Any change will take work. Every change begins with a decision. If you wait for an arbitrary point on the calendar to make the decision, you’re just procrastinating.

Decide today. Change your life. And your kids’.

Question: What will you decide to change today? Share your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

About

Colter writes software and blogs about personal growth and productivity. He lives in Silicon Valley (California) with his wife and children, recently took up golf, and watches mostly British TV shows.

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