Improve Your Life Personal Growth By Mary Jaksch A guest post by Anne Melnyk of The Art & Practice of Balance. Have you ever been inspired to make a change in your life? Maybe you decided to learn to speak Italian, to lose a few pounds, to conquer clutter, to be on time consistently, to call your mother more often, or to take better care of your finances. Were you successful? Or did you begin with great intentions, only to discover that within days or weeks, that life had gotten in the way or your interest had waned? How do you make changes that stick? How do you become one of those people that decides to make a change and then actually makes it? How do you elevate your effort to change, from a half-hearted New Year’s resolution, to a truly transformative initiative? Well, its simple when you know how. Notice I didn’t say it was easy. I said it was simple. We have been seduced by easy. We are sold the merits of easy every day. And let’s face it, life is pretty easy these days. It’s easy to communicate. It’s easy to learn. It’s easy to put food on the table. And before you dispute that, how many of us have to grow our own crops or hunt down and kill a wildebeest for dinner like our ancestors? We have become accustomed to instant results and instant gratification in so many areas of life, that too often, we are seduced by the belief that change can be instant, and effortless as well. Our ability and willingness to dedicate ourselves to a vision, discipline ourselves to take consistent action and to delay gratification is rusty. But some things are still hard. Changing habits is not easy, so don’t let someone sell you on the idea that it is. If you expect easy, it will be easy to quit when hard shows up. On the other hand, if you prepare for a difficult campaign you will be surprised by how easy it will seem in the face of your preparations. Even though we’ve all experienced the struggle of making changes, we continue to harbor hope that dramatic change can be as easy and magical as winning a lottery. Ironically, when we give up on hoping for effortless change and results in our lives, and accept that it may require some work and dedication, that’s when the magic can happen. So getting back to simple. . . If you want to create profound change in your life, here are a few simple steps to create transformation that is simply magical: Create a compelling vision Develop real clarity about the change you want to create in your life. Focus on envisioning your true desires, not something motivated by a should, must or ought to. Make a powerful decision Be very clear about your reasons for desiring change. What does it cost you not to change? Identify and focus on your deep emotional connection to the change you want to make. When you are clear about what you want to change or achieve, write it out to help make it real. Rehearse your decision and keep it in your awareness by posting it where you can see and read it out loud every day. Make a plan Make a list of actions you need to take to make your change a reality. Develop habits and practices that support your vision, to put action on autopilot. Start taking action towards your dream right now, don’t wait for the perfect plan. Commit to taking action Take consistent action on your dream every day. Create focus and momentum by doing one thing at a time. Don’t let fear stop you. Whether you baby step your way to success or take giant leaps, it doesn’t really matter, as long as you are in action and keep going the right direction. Replace Intention with Attention Making changes requires more than good intentions. It’s been said the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Paying attention is the key to successful change. What you pay attention to grows, what you ignore withers. Stay present to your dreams and pay attention. Create a Success Team Don’t do it alone. Create a support team. Have a buddy to lean on when you need unconditional love and support, a cheerleader to energize your efforts, someone to keep you accountable and on track and a resource person to turn to when you need help. Design your environment to support successful change. Create systems to support your progress. Celebrate A LOT Too often we only celebrate when we complete a project or accomplish a goal. Life is about the journey, not the destination. It’s very important to take notice of and celebrate each step of your progress. Make change a joyful endeavor not a chore. Read more from Anne on her blog, The Art & Practice of Balance Note from Mary: Anne has just launched her baby bloglet. Let’s give here a thrill – please visit her blog and subscribe! *** Join us for the next FREE Virtual Zen Retreat: The Miracle of Kindness (7-12 february 2010) Learn how to cultivate kindness Feel the power of loving-kindness meditation Be inspired for a positive future Your personal messages, and your Zen lessons have made me realize the true value of this human existence. ~ Lokanandha P. Secure your place by filling out the form in the sidebar or find out more about Virtual Zen Retreats here.