When was the last time you imagined, wished or planned to change? I’m sure you have plenty of examples of that: a diet, more exercise, stopping that unhealthy or annoying habit, spending more time with your partner, to name only a few common ones. Now, how many times did change really occur? As you already know, we’re all good at talking about change, but often we lack ability to implement change.
Marshall Goldsmith, a leading personality in the world of coaching, suggests that there are six powerful questions can help us change, regardless of how difficult that is.
Change is difficult. What makes it so?
There are two variables that make change difficult.
First of all, external circumstances might be difficult. They often are. It’s objectively not so easy to exercise if you work 9-5, have a family and all the rest.
Secondly, our mind might work against change if we don’t know how to master it. For example, our brain can find all kind of excuses to avoid exercising: I’m tired, it’s raining, I don’t have the right clothes, I will do it tomorrow. Do they sound familiar to you?
In practice, we find all kind of excuses not to implement change and we overestimate the importance of external circumstances. It’s easy to see how, in such a situation, we get stuck.
So, what’s the solution?
Yes, it’s true that external circumstances might be difficult. However, the world gives us plenty of example of people who change remarkably in spite of big obstacles. How do they do it?
One of the most remarkable stories is that of Victor Frankl, a Viennese psychiatrist who survived Auschwitz. In his beautifully insightful book Man’s Search For Meaning he explains how, while external circumstances were difficult and unchangeable for everyone, prisoners who focused on changing their internal attitude were more able to cope with the horror of a concentration camp.
The lesson to learn from people who succeed in implementing change in spite of obstacles is that focusing on how difficult external events are is a big mistake. It is another excuse we find to avoid change.
External events and obstacles are something we can’t control. We are often powerless over them. It’s pointless to keep complaining about how your boss doesn’t create a healthy and pleasant environment at work if you are unlikely to have an influence on it and that’s unlikely to change.
What we can control is ourselves, our resources, our attitudes. Focusing on this is way more effective in order to change.
Targeting what we can do is a way more productive way of bringing about change.
There are six questions that we can ask ourselves to facilitate change.
We now know that focusing on the external doesn’t hep and that we need to focus on our contribution to change. How do we do that? There are six questions that have been researched and are proven to work by focusing your attention on yourself and allowing you to bring about change.
These are the six key questions to ask yourself:
- Did I do my best to be happy?
- Did I do my best to find meaning?
- Did I do my best to be fully engaged?
- Did I do my best to build positive relations?
- Did I do my best to set clear goals?
- Did I do my best to make progress against my goals?
How can you use these questions?
Marshall Goldsmith suggests you ask yourself these questions every day (it doesn’t take long).
You can answer these questions on your own (for example by scheduling a regular time to do so) or get someone else to ask them (a partner, a friend, a colleague).
If you think that an everyday appointment with these questions is undoable, find another solution. I believe that asking yourself these questions once a week can be equally powerful. That is the essence of coaching: meeting once a week with a professional who asks powerful questions that allow you to use your strengths and resources to bring about change.
Bottom line: focus on yourself and what you can do to change.
Focusing on how difficult things are and finding excuses doesn’t work. If you want to change, focus on yourself, on your contribution, on your assets. Ask yourself questions that target yourself and change will be easier to implement.
Watch Marshall Goldsmith’s talk about change and the 6 key questions to ask yourself:
Learn more from Marshall Goldsmith!
Read What Got You Here Won’t Get You There to learn more from Marshall Goldsmith.
This book explores how to overcome obstacles on your way towards personal achievement and success. It allows you to learn and implement Marshall Goldsmith’s powerful coaching techniques, and benefit from his enlightening advice.
Read Triggers: Sparking positive change and making it last to learn more from Marshall Goldsmith.
This book is all about behaviour and how important that is for positive change. It explores what external factors influence us and how we can learn to have power over them.
I am an experienced CBT therapist, life coach and counsellor.
I have been working in private practice for years. I have also worked in private clinics and the NHS.
Although I specialise in the treatment of stess and anxiety, I have worked successfully with a variety of issues, such as low self-esteem, trauma and depression.
I have undertaken extensive professional training in both university settings and private colleges.
I am based in London (Balham SW12). I practice face-to-face and via Skype/FaceTime/telephone.
I am an accredited member of the National Counselling Society and a full member of the Association for Coaching.
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