Journey of a Serial Entrepreneur

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How to get from where you are to where you want to be

5 Steps to Change a Habit

“When you sow a thought you reap an action, when you sow an action you reap a habit, when you sow a habit you reap a character and when you sow a character you reap a destiny.” Anonymous

Embracing change poses a challenge to most of us. Our comfort zones have the ability to make us feel just that, comfortable and at peace. Stepping out of these zones is a frightening experience, at the best of times.  Venturing into spaces where you need to find your bearings all over again is daunting . The task is arduous at the onset, it doesn’t get much easier along the way either, however, when you have successfully enlarged that comfort zone, the feeling of accomplishment is unparalleled. This week, I talked about a couple of steps which can be used when wanting to change or develop a new habit. I felt it was important to talk about this, because being an entrepreneur requires you to be flexible and open to change. It requires you to change limiting habits and beliefs, which may be pulling you back. Listed below are five steps which may be of help in this process:

1. Identification: Before we commit ourselves to “change”, we need to make sure our unconscious desires connect with the conscious ones. Clarity about what you want to change is essential. Asking yourself what you want to change about yourself is a powerful question, use it to crystalize your thoughts. To read more about identification of limiting habits/beliefs please click here.

2. Ask yourself why: Once you have identified the change you want in your life, the next question is, why do you want to change? This discovery process is essential, to grasp the fundamental reasoning behind the change you want to see in your life. Without this process of understanding , you may discover that you approached change in a particular habit, for the wrong reasons. You may discover that you never really wanted to change this particular habit, hence, you had not found a strong enough reason to motivate the change. To read more about asking yourself “why” please click here.

3. Make a plan: To successfully start a transformation process, you need to outline a plan. One which will be documented, and have clearly marked time lines. It is important you take into account any triggers which may lead to lapsing back to old habits.  To read more about making successful plans for changing  habits please click here.

4. Taking action: We can plan all we want, in the end, it all boils down to taking action. This step requires courage, determination, and above all, belief in your capabilities to bring about change. Life is too short to expect those around us to change, or, to stand still and hope that things will become better. The first step towards wanting to bring in change, is to take responsibility for your life. It boils down to you, and how committed you are, to wanting change in your life. To read more about taking action please click here.

5. Maintaining change: Once we have taken that first step towards bringing change into our life, we have begun a journey. To help us maintain the change that we have brought into our lives some of the things which can help us are, keeping a daily log, developing a support system and rewarding ourselves whenever we reach small milestones. These activities will help keep you motivated when the going gets tough. To read more about maintaining change please click here.

Time is the most precious asset we possess. Everyday is an opportunity for you to bring about the change that  you want to see, in your life. In the end, it boils down to your level of determination and persistence to be the change you want to see. I love the Adidas quote “impossible is nothing”. Maybe that could be a mantra for your next habit change? Best of luck!

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Maintaining Change

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

Once we have taken that first step towards bringing change into our life, we have begun a journey. Like most journeys, this one will have its share of ups and down. There will be times, when you will want to go back to the way things were, and there will be others when you feel lost and alone. Embracing these feelings for what they are, is an important step on this journey. If we let our emotions hinder our capabilities to move forward, we will find ourselves trapped, and unable to bring about the changes we want to see in our life. There is no doubt, we will fall many times, to fall is only human. What matters is whether we have the courage to pick ourselves up, and keep moving on.

Listed below, are a couple of pointers which have helped me carry on, when the going was tough:

1. Keep a daily log: This simple activity does not require you to write pages of detailed specifics. Its primary purpose, is to help you understand the transformations which are taking place in your life on a daily basis. As a secondary purpose, it serves as an outlet which allows you to express your thoughts and emotions.

2. Support systems: When we are undergoing drastic changes in our life, we need to identify an individual or a group of people, to rely on to help you through this period. Better yet, taking someone on board who also wants to change or inculcate the same habit, is ideal. This way there is someone to identify with, who also understands what you are going through. This emotional bond sometimes creates a force strong enough to overcome just about any obstacle.

3. Reward yourself: This is a tip I use a lot when going through change. It provides incentive to push yourself further. The sense of accomplishment when you are rewarded for your efforts, is a great boost as well. This also helps create a momentum that is infectious, and soon you find yourself hitting goal after goal. Choose your rewards carefully,  they play a major role in motivating you to go further.

Sustaining change is a challenging task. We have to constantly keep reminding ourselves why we want to change, and what we hope to achieve, once we have changed. The rationale behind the reason for change must be based on solid foundations. Without this base, reverting to older habits is more likely, and no one likes to admit failing. However, after having said that, there will be times, when although the reasons for change are based on the strongest of foundations, we still fail. At this point, it is best to go back and understand the reasons again. Was a trigger missed ? Does the plan need changing ? The minute we start blaming our inadequacies, is when we lose hope. Look for reasons , not blame.

Remember there is no such thing as failure only feedback!

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Taking Action

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

We can plan all we want, in the end, it all boils down to taking action. This step requires courage, determination, and above all, belief in your capabilities to bring about change. Life is too short to expect those around us to change, or, to stand still and hope that things will become better. The truth is, once you sit on the fence for too long, it becomes comfortable, and taking a decision becomes a lot harder. In my own life, there have been times when I have been guilty of such behavior, we all have. However, what has happened in the past remains there, what is important is, that we don’t make the same errors today. If you have decided that something in your life needs changing, and have figured out what it is, and how you plan to change it, then you need to do, just that.

The first step towards wanting to bring in change, is to take responsibility for your life. It boils down to you, and how committed you are, to wanting change in your life.  For example, we are constantly bombarded about the side effects of smoking, in Singapore, they even have gruesome photographs on cigarette packs of what it could potentially do to you. The mind however, is such a powerful thing, that these images are subconsciously blocked. By remaining undecided and continuing to sit on the fence,  it may well be too late when you decide to take action! I accept that it is lot easier for me to say such things because I don’t smoke, I realize that giving it up is a very difficult process and one which requires a lot of discipline and determination. I believe however, that to find courage to take action, sincere and convincing arguments need to be understood with an open mind. Fully comprehending the negative impact of this habit is vital.

Along the way, curved balls will be thrown at you undoubtedly. Certain triggers will appear repeatedly, the urge and need to revert back will often be too strong to resist. However, if you have been strong enough to take that first step, with all the right reasons and intentions, half the battle has already been won. The theory of “Ready, Fire, Aim” is one which I believe in completely, it forces you to take action. There will always be fears and doubts regarding the outcome of an action, the important thing is, that you have taken that first step. Once you have begun to take consistent action, it is now, only a matter of maintaining a momentum to help you reach your goal.

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Planning to change?

“Reduce your plan to writing. The moment you complete this, you will have definitely given concrete form to the intangible desire.” Napoleon Hill

After we have identified the change we want to bring in, as well as the reason for it, we need a road map on how to implement this change into our lives. This is another critical process which requires substantial time. It is easy to wake up one day and tell yourself, you are going to change from tomorrow. This is easier said than done, whenever I have used this technique, it takes around 3 days to go back to old ways. What your mind needs, is direction. It knows the reasons to change, it also needs to be told how to get this change going.

 An effective plan for habit change, is better for the following steps :

1. Documented: A transfer of ideas and plans onto paper is essential. This is an obvious first step, however, most of the time we neglect to do so, thinking it to be trivial. Before starting any change, write down what you want to change and why you want to do so.

2. Time Specific: Setting yourself targets spread over extended periods of time (months, years) is not an effective strategy. Commit yourself to a realistic but challenging timeline, to help you start seeing results.

3. Identify Triggers: Most habits are triggered by specific activities or emotional states. Do your best to identify these triggers as soon as possible. Once you have list of triggers, you will need to compile a list of alternative actions that need to be taken in place of this habit. For example, if your smoking is triggered by the completion of a meal, replace the cigarette with some nicotine gum or green tea. This is a key component in developing your strategic plan.

4. Create Mini Goals: As humans, we need to be constantly motivated, to continue moving forward. Therefore your plan may be broken down into mini goals, which can be rewarded when acheived. This will help keep your motivation at a higher level.

Using these basic components, plan how to go about your day. This doesn’t need to be very detailed, it just needs to be specific enough, so you can monitor your progress. By developing a plan, you will have a guidance system, which helps keep you on track, and provides you with the necessary motivation to wake up the next morning, fully aware of the steps you have to take, to change that habit!

 

 

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Why do you want to change?

“Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.” Anonymous

Once you have identified why you want a change in your life, the fundamental question is, why do you want to change? This discovery process is essential, to grasp the fundamental reasoning behind the change you want to see in your life. Without this understanding process, you may discover that you approached change in a particular habit, for the wrong reasons. You may discover that you really never wanted to change this particular habit, hence you had not found a strong enough reason to motivate the change. This inconsistency in thought and action , starts to manifest itself in different aspects of your life. 

A few questions you need to ask yourself once you have decided on what changes you want, are:

1. Why do I want to change?: When answering this question write down your responses. This will help you visualize all your unconscious thoughts. The number of responses and reasons will vary depending on the type of habit and how deeply it is ingrained in your system. 

2. How is this habit negatively affecting my life?: This question seeks to re-affirm all the negative aspects of the habit. For example, if you continuously lose your temper, visualize how it affects your work, relationships, personality and outlook towards life?. We tend to forget that the repercussions of our habits, affect every aspect of our lives. It is only when we consciously bring their impact to the fore, do we realize the damage we are doing by continuing with them.

3. How will changing this habit benefit my life?: This question should help you visualize what life would be like with a change in place. This is a powerful visualization exercise, it re-enforces certain messages into your subconscious. For example if you have made a vow to stop smoking, visualize how this will benefit your lifestyle through better health, having more energy, not having a dependency, saving money, not having to run to the gas station in the middle of night, being more confident and just generally feeling better about life. These could be some of the things you could have on your list.

These questions will help you put more thought into why you want to do change a certain habit. Waking up one morning with a hangover and vowing to stop drinking is not adequate. When you want to make any sort of transformation in your life, there needs to be concentrated thought behind your rationale. Without this we will continue to make half hearted commitments which will only further reduce our ability to believe in ourselves and bring about positive change.

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What do you want to change?

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” Keri Russel

The process of identifying habits and mannerisms that need changing is a tricky process. The unconscious level continues to repeat the process, over and over again, this process eventually leads us to a conscious realization. This realization takes place when this repetitive activity is getting us results we do not desire. For example, over the last couple of years you have wanted to lose some weight. Every time you get motivated to start a diet, it goes well for a short period, then you return to your old eating habits. What appears an obvious pattern is not so obvious to the person on the diet. They feel their diets may be wrong,unsuitable for them, unforeseen circumstances keep coming up, eventually they lose their initial motivation.

The reason why such individuals find it difficult to follow through, is because of a disconnect between their conscious and unconscious desires. Before embarking on changing aspects of your life, there needs to be a process to identify in detail, what you want to change. In the case of the above example, identify if it is your figure, your health or your overall lifestyle that needs a change. Without this identification we are bound to return to our old habits due to a lack of connection between the conscious and unconscious. I mentioned my sleeping habits as an example yesterday. For some time I struggled with the fact that I needed to get up early. There would be periods when I would stick to the plan, and there would be longer periods where I would not stick to the plan. It is only when I told myself that I need to change my sleeping habits to balance my lifestyle, did I begin to make a connection and eventually made progress.

Before undertaking any major change in life, remember you first need to make sure the unconscious desires connect with the conscious ones. There needs to be clarity about what you want to change. It is only after you have identified a particular habit, that you can go to the next question which involves, why you want to bring about this particular change.

 

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