One of my guilty pleasures is watching reality TV, specifically shows where someone or some place receives a makeover. Whether a hairstyle update, home renovation, or wardrobe refashion, these shows make it hard to change the channel until the alteration is complete and the improved subject is revealed. What I enjoy about these shows is the opportunity to witness a transformation. Granted, we have no way of knowing whether the changes made will last. And yet, seeing someone discover his or her potential and then embrace a change is compelling and good for my soul.
Recently I read an article in The Wall Street Journal written by Oscar-winning actor Chris Cooper. In college he was drawn to all things theater, but his shyness kept him behind the scenes. That is until he became “so damn irritated with my shyness that in my sophomore year, I decided to break out. By then, I felt like I had something to say.”
I have abundant admiration for people like Cooper who, upon some soul searching, determine they need to make changes to be happier, healthier, more successful, more whatever, and then just do it. True change takes time, hard work, and steadfastness. If you’ve resolved that your life can be better and bring you more fulfillment, there are certain tactics you must employ to guarantee your personal transformation will be a success.
Set a goal. If you think you were born for something more, then stake your claim and plot a course to get there. Without a target, you won’t know where to aim your efforts. Put your dream into words and remind yourself daily where you are heading.
Tame and defeat the self-doubt beast. Transformation normally involves stepping out of your comfort zone. Don’t let that trip you up. Use your past successes as inspiration. Adopt a mantra to help stay positive and focused. For me, it goes back to a favorite childhood book, The Little Engine That Could. A little repetitive “I think I can, I think I can” may be just the thing to keep you chugging along with a “can-do” attitude.
Baby steps. Lasting change happens in increments. It won’t always happen in a straight line. Embrace the adventure of an occasional curve without letting it take you off course. When setbacks happen—and they will—don’t get discouraged. Mistakes, and our responses to them, are powerful when we use them to propel us forward.
Always be learning. There are podcasts and Ted Talks and numerous resources out there. Seek and find them. Some of your best resources are mentors and respected peers. Share what you’re doing with a trusted mentor and accept constructive feedback.
Fake it ’til you make it. Tried and true—you are who you think you are. If you want to change who you are, you best start thinking and acting that way.