“You must take personal responsibility.
You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.
That is something you have charge of.”
– Jim Rohn
Where do you see yourself in a year, two years, five or ten years? Have you ever done this exercise: not daydreaming, but closing your eyes and really visualizing where you want your life to be in the future? What do you see?
If you’re like most people, you may imagine various things changing in your life – your lifestyle, where you live, perhaps various goals completed and dreams accomplished (or even better – dreams being lived!)
Many of us have things we’d like to change in our lives, and that we’re actively taking responsibility for changing. There is one key realization I’ve had though that has enormously affected my life and my capability for changing it. When you read it, perhaps you’ll have the same epiphany I had.
You can’t change your life until…
You Can’t Change Your Life Until You Change Yourself
One big moment in my life was when I realized the type of person I am is not defined by what I’ve accomplished: rather, I am defined by the way I consistently am. Who I am in turn both influences and limits what I can accomplish: my habits, my attitudes, my small daily actions.
The principle that came from that was this: You will not accomplish your long term goals or dreams, unless you start acting today like the type of person who can accomplish those dreams.
As an example, imagine that you want to be a world class guitarist. You can daydream about the day you make it big – but the only way you’ll get there is by being the type of person who practices like a world class guitarist. It’s not the big dream and aspiration that gets you there – it’s the daily habit of practicing.
It’s the type of person who has these attitude that will, eventually, through applying themselves acquire a level of proficiency playing guitar.
Our goals and dreams can only be accomplished if we become the type of people who can accomplish those goals and dreams.
If I had to summarize what I’ve learned, it would go something like this:
The goals you set, and where you want to be in your life will only be achieved if they are in line with the type of person you are today.
To take it a step further: The changes that you want to occur in your life must always be preceded by a corresponding change in you as a person.
So the question is no longer just what do you want, or where do you want to go in your life – the question becomes …
Who Do You Want To Be?
“I’ve always wanted to be somebody, but I see now I should have been more specific.”
– Lily Tomlin
One of the realizations I came to when I was thinking about this is I can’t accomplish every single thing I want in my life – but that’s because some of the actions I’d have to take aren’t consistent with the type of person I want to be.
Lets look at a couple of extreme examples:
- You can’t be a workaholic working 16 hour days seven days a week and also be someone who spends every evening with his family.
- You can’t (unless you have amazing genetics) be someone who eats fatty, sugary, salty foods every day, skips workouts regularly – and yet also achieve an elite level of physical fitness.
I could go on, but I think you get the point – the person you are needs to be consistent with the end goal that you’re striving for. Each of the above examples talk about one type of person, living a particular lifestyle – but striving for a goal that’s not compatible with who they are.
If you’ve got a long term goal that isn’t feasible with your short term habits, you’ve got to decide: are you willing to be the type of person you need to be in order to get the results you want?
The Case Of Someone Acquiring Wealth – Without Changing Who They Are
If you don’t change yourself as a person before trying to change your life, you may suffer the same fate as some lottery winners. Picture someone with poor financial habits who is heavily in debt and wins the lottery.
They now have enough money to pay off their debt, but they still have the same poor habits they had before winning the lottery. You can guess how this ends – a number of people win the lottery, but because they haven’t changed as people, they end up spending or otherwise losing the money – and end up right back where they started.
This isn’t just me saying it either – this has been shown in studies over and over. It extends to all types of changes we try to make in our lives. Crash dieters who gain the weight back. People who quit smoking but are not able to sustain it. The millions of people who initially are able to stick to a New Year’s resolution, but fail within the first week.
I don’t say this to blame: I say this to teach you the important of this lesson.
Real change has to begin on the inside. It must be something that leads to your long term consistency. That consistency and ability to keep the change in your life is what will lead to long term success – and long term happiness.
So always remember:
You cannot change your life, until you change yourself.
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