A Clear Path Forward

It’s been a long time since my last post.

But that’s just it…to me, it feels like I just posted yesterday; however, when I look at the date of my last post here, it’s been almost an entire month!

My first reaction is: “Here I go again! I’ll never change. I’m not good at keeping to a routine or a schedule.”

I once heard a pastor say “our past describes us, it doesn’t have to define us”. There is hope in this statement.

Recently in a chat I co-lead, we were discussing influencing behavior. It turns out that 95% of our decisions occur in the unconscious brain. Basically, we are hard wired for the status quo. It’s where we feel safe and secure.

The objective is to recognize and challenge this process, to engage the conscious mind. One approach is asking questions that invoke a sense of curiosity and probing for solutions.

Switch is one of the best books I have ever read on dealing with change, especially when change is difficult. Mindset is an important part of this process; in fact, it’s key.

There is a fixed mindset, typically someone with this mindset feels “I am what I am, I can’t change”.  The alternative is a growth mindset. Here, someone believes change is a possibility, it’s a matter of discovery.

The authors identify three elements for change:

  1. The Rider – this is the intellect
  2. The Elephant – the emotions
  3. A clear path forward – we have to have a mechanism to channel our desire for a better or different future.

Without a clear path forward, I am right back where this journey started; it’s like I am making a New Year’s resolution. There isn’t anything to connect the emotional response to reality, and with 95% of my brain programmed for the status quo, I am not likely to be successful.

So, how do I combat failure? First, I am choosing a “growth mindset.” This is an important first step. More importantly, I am choosing it often because each time I encounter an obstacle, I find “fixed mindset” thinking is triggered. So step one is taking these thoughts captive.

Instead of statements, I am using questions. Questions like:

  • What am I learning?
  • What do I need to do differently?
  • What is causing this reaction?

So far, I am discovering I need boundaries. Part of my new path forward is a clearly marked lane with distinct self-imposed guardrails. I tend to process things internally and I am often reluctant to ask for help, at least personally.

I have realized I need some help with this process, especially accountability. God has provided a wonderful colleague who is gifted in this area.

We have spent time crafting an action plan that identifies and prioritizes tasks that need to be completed. She routinely follows up to ask about status.

Practically speaking, she is a coach. She has my permission to ask tough questions, make observations and suggestions.

Real lasting change takes time. In some cases, I engage thought processes that have created decades-old-ruts.

Change is often dynamic. We don’t live in a static environment. As things around me change, I have to adapt.

At some point, I may not require this level of accountability; however, until then, I choose to embrace this part of the journey.

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