Mar 012011

Albert Einstein, a pretty thoughtful guy, defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  Yet many people do exactly this, with their careers, their parenting, their relationships with others, falling into a rut of wishful thinking with little connection to reality.

Your daily decisions pave the road of your life. Each day, you can make decisions that will change your future outcome. Each and every day, some small step, some action on your part can adjust your life’s course.

All you have to do is realize that change is good, that change is a tool, and that change is a must. The problem is that people perceive risk in change so they often avoid it.

If you feel stagnant in your career, you must make decisions and take actions to change things, if you want your outlook to improve. If you continue to do the same things each day, things will not change much. End of story. If you have a pessimistic and cranky boss, change your approach with him. Most people tend to avoid and withdraw from engaging such managers. Take advantage of this reality. Overwhelm him with your energy for a month. Go hyper-proactive. See what happens… I suspect something will if you do. If that doesn’t work, try Plan C, but try something different or expect nothing to change.

If you feel you have tried everything and are out of ideas, seek the advice of three wise people you know. Take each one to lunch or for a coffee on the Starbucks patio – most people really thrive on being asked for their advice, and a free lunch is usually welcomed as well. I’ll bet you come back with three ideas to try from each, plus a better relationship with a wise friend. If you try a dozen tactics and nothing else, decide to change jobs. Life is too short and there is too much opportunity to live under a black cloud. From personal experience, it is best to find a job before you quit the current one.

The same “crazy to expect progress without change” equation is true of all facets of life. Let’s look at parenting. If your kid is not motivated by your current motivation/discipline tactics, change them and see what happens. Don’t fall into a rut. Some parents yell at the kids to clean up their rooms, but the rooms still look like bomb went off day in and day out. The parent yells more, but there is no change. Time to try Plan B. Perhaps clean up the room, but take away all privileges like TV, iPhone, and other assorted electronics for three days. Explain that each time you have to clean up the room, that will be the price/result. See what happens. If that doesn’t work, there is always Plan C.

If you play on a sports team but ride the bench far too often, change what you do. Sometimes the coach says one thing but really wants something else. Not every coach is a great communicator. Ask more questions, and jot down the answers after practice. Look for trends. Search for what you can do differently. Do different things than expected – some attempts may work, some may not, but avoid the crazy expectation of better results without changing what you are doing. There is always something that will change the chemistry. Experiment.

If you are a student but your current lifestyle and study habits are getting you mostly C’s with a few B’s, time to change your methods. Maybe a lot of your college friends study in the quiet of the library but you find yourself falling asleep there. Move to the student union, or perhaps the back of the cafeteria where few people sit. If that doesn’t work, try something else like studying early in the morning before the campus wakes up. Be determined to find the system that will work for you. Above all, don’t procrastinate – that never works well.

If fishing with minnows for hours without getting a bite, the wise fisherman will change to worms, then later to crawdads, and then to something else, until something works.

Take this change/experiment approach to all facets of life. There is a magical aspect to coming up with Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. Not only is does change logical, it also dramatically improves one’s optimism, reduces stress and frustration, and treats failures as small obstacles to overcome, not major dead-ends without hope. Never forget that optimism tends to help you succeed.

The Optimistic Few don’t get frustrated, but rather embrace change as a great tool to help them succeed.

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