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Change: attitude and behavior

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."
Leo Tolstoy, Russian writer, philosopher, educational reformer (1828-1910)

It's easy to point a finger at other people ... or institutions ... and point out what "they" should be doing. It's much more painful to look at ourselves and point out how we should change. Most people don't like change because it's uncomfortable. By its very definition, all change falls outside your comfort zone. So what can you do ... to change yourself ... in a positive productive way?

1. Take control of your attitude
Most people don't like change ... because it's so unpredictable. They want to have some control. You can always control your attitude. Take your job. You may be upset or disappointed about changes in your organization. How long should you let these feelings go on? One week, one month or one year?

W. Clement Stone, the president of Combined Insurance, said, "There is very little difference in people. But that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative."

You can concentrate on what's going wrong and become preoccupied with the things that are aggravating or upsetting. Or you can choose to put your energy into making things better. You can choose to be positive, optimistic and enthusiastic.

2. Remind yourself how important change is
It's kind of like a workout. If you don't exercise your muscles, they tend to atrophy. And if you don't exercise a bit of risk or pursue a bit of change on a regular basis, your mind tends to weaken. After all, your mind was made for challenge. It's almost impossible to maintain the status quo. If you're not changing for the better, you're changing for the worse.

3. Commit yourself to some specific changes you want and need to make

Don't sit around waiting to see what will happen. Most people finish the calendar year no better off than they were at the start of the year because they never started ... anything.

There are only two things you can change
1) your attitude and 2) your behavior. When you change your attitudes, beliefs and self-image, you'll see changes in your behavior. You perform exactly as you see yourself.

Focus your change efforts on a few of your behaviors. When you change what you do ... you change who you are. If, for example, you end your habit of immediately going to the couch to watch TV after dinner and instead spend an hour reading books on a topic you want to know more about, and you do that for as few as 21 days in a row, you'll morph into a more knowledgeable person.

You can do that same sort of behavioral re-programming for anything ... better relationships ... a better career ... a healthier body. Focus on one thing at a time. And if you use those 21-day cycles, there are 17 things you can choose and improve in just one year. Choose wisely.

Commit yourself to one specific change you're willing to make and likely to do ... every day ... for the next 21 days.

Condensed and reprinted with permission from Dr. Alan Zimmerman's 'Tuesday Tip.' As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional speaker, Zimmerman has worked with more than a million people, helping them become more effective communicators on and off the job. To receive a FREE, subscription to his 'Tuesday Tip' articles, go to http://www.DrZimmerman.com. Or contact him at 20550 Lake Ridge Drive, Prior Lake, MN 55372.