Incremental change is great. And in many situations, that’s the best you can manage.
But there comes a time when, for many of us, incremental change is not nearly enough. At times like these, the best way forward involves a makeover.
I suppose there are as many ways to do a makeover as there are people doing them, from risking everything on a whim to postponing the makeover until you can retire on a pension.
But coming, as I do, from a perspective of organizing your work and life for change, this piece is about setting up for a maximum makeover with minimal risk and minimal delay.
Let’s take it step by step:
Set a New Direction
A “makeover” implies not simply destruction, but change. So just quitting your job or abandoning your lifestyle is not enough to constitute a makeover. No. A worthwhile makeover involves a positive change toward something different, preferably something better. The clear implication: you have to know what that something different is going to be.
That makes the first step in any effective makeover one based on research and planning. You’ll want to:
- Identify and explore your interests,
- Select a satisfactory new direction,
- Prepare to move in that direction by acquiring needed knowledge, training, experience, and so forth,
- Develop a practical plan for moving in that new direction.
Your plan should include specific steps you want to take to move in your new direction, and specific deadlines by which you want to take those steps. These deadlines will provide motivation, and will also help you get the timing right, so you can adjust your schedule in light of any seasonal or other time factors that might assist you in moving forward or potentially hold you back.
It’s helpful to prepare some kind of financial plan, too, including both expected income and expected expenses during each month of your makeover. Accurate financial planning will let you know whether or not you can pay your bills until your makeover fully takes hold. If your plan shows a financial shortfall or a heavy lump-sum expense, it’s better to know about that now, rather than later, so you can alter your plan to compensate.
Having a comprehensive plan for moving forward in your new direction will also help you feel more confident as you encounter obstacles, headwinds, and delays. Extra layers of confidence will keep you upbeat and active despite any criticisms, ridicule, insults, and lack of cooperation you may receive from other people.
As many high-achievers have famously advised, “Whether you believe you can, or you can’t, you’re right.”
Develop New Contacts
Most of us work and live within a network of personal and professional contacts who support what we want and facilitate what we do. It’s only reasonable, then to recognize that to pursue a new direction you’re going to need to grow your existing network.
The art and practice of expanding your network is way beyond the scope of this piece. But you can easily find information on how to do it well, including here.
Going through a makeover alone can be a harrowing experience. You’ll enjoy it more, and probably finish with a better makeover, when you have one or more groups of friends, relations, and colleagues who:
- Believe in you and your makeover plan,
- Can support you — perhaps even financially, if necessary — during the makeover process,
- Have ideas, contacts, and resources to ease your makeover transition.
As I wrote in my recent piece on Setting More Balanced Goals, “I don’t have to tell you that in this culture, money plays a huge role.”
Because this is true, minimizing or eliminating any worries about money greatly facilitates your upcoming makeover.
Short of being born into wealth or winning the lottery, your best bet for building financial stability is simply to spend less than you make. The sooner you start, the faster and bigger this habit will pay off.
Nobody ever said a personal or professional makeover would be easy. You’re bound to encounter difficulties and delays, sometimes run low on energy, even miss out on getting a few potentially helpful breaks.
But whatever happens, remember to keep moving forward.
One relevant motivational technique is to write down the benefits and satisfactions you anticipate receiving once your makeover is complete. But don’t just write this down and forget it. Instead, get the full motivational benefit of your vision by reviewing it monthly, weekly, even daily if it helps you hang tough.
As Thomas Edison said: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
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