Goal-setting? Create a culture of change first

Posted January 12

It’s January, which means dive in, set high-level well-intentioned goals, in two weeks forget what they were, then drown your non-attained sorrows in a really quality cheesecake.

Wait, not this year. No, this year you’re going to do it right, which means to create a culture of change. You don’t just make a checklist but adjust your environment, rhythm, and perceptions to make change your new best friend.

1. Confront the fear

Part of the love/dislike relationship we have with change often boils down to some kind of fear. To get to the root, and move beyond it, try this simple exercise that a friend once did with me.

Name a fear and ask yourself three questions:

Is there evidence in my life that this is absolutely true?

Does this belief bless my life?

What is the opposite and does that bless my life?

My friend’s questions were a pivotal springboard to letting go of fears. And it led me to my own addition of a progressing question which was, what is one action to shift this? That allowed me to focus on one choice to move forward, which in my case was to more effectively face a difficult situation that one of my children was dealing with. Then to get information, make decisions together and move forward with courage.

2. Connect it to a purpose

In 20 years of teaching women life-planning principles, I’ve learned this core truth: random goals will not work. Shoulds won't work. Isolated, knee-jerk, stab a pencil at the sentence “Lose 15 pounds” will not work. We must connect our goals to a purpose, a meaningful intention or a powerful emotion or it won't be sustained.

One way to access your purpose is a simple equation: I want to x so I can do y.

I want to lose weight so I can … play ball with my kids.

I want to organize my home so I can … find batteries when I need them.

I want to connect more with my child so I can … help him feel more loved and confident.

As you connect your goal to a core purpose, your motivation will sustain you through the obstacles.

3. Change your environment

Whether it's a routine, a configuration of furniture or a new hairstyle, making a physical change in at least one way signals to your brain that things are different. In a sense, your subconscious will anticipate that newness and be more invested in the change while allowing less pushback because you’re already doing it.

This doesn’t have to be a huge change. A few days ago I looked at my desk, stacked with papers, books, backpacks, half-built Legos and more, and said, Let it begin. In an hour it was decluttered and so was my outlook on life.

4. Surround yourself with change cheerleaders

When you open yourself to growth-minded people, you will find a well of positive support and unexpected opportunities for change. Surround yourself with those who support you. Losing weight, getting organized, creating more meaningful connection all come with challenges along the way. Connect with at least one or two people who genuinely desire for you to succeed.

Lastly, get accurate information. Making personal changes requires time, energy and resources. Don’t waste them on what doesn’t work. Find out what truly creates and maintains change, and in a way that resonates for you.

If you want a simple jump-start, enjoy this free download on “3 keys to make a life change.” The more you learn, the more realistic and doable change becomes, and the more likely it is you’ll do it.

Connie Sokol is an author, presenter, TV contributor and mother of seven. Contact her at


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