How to Make Change Stick
How do you go from being a homeless heroin addict facing jail time to being a successful career coach? My guest on this episode, Eric Zimmer, would say, “One small step at a time.” His is a remarkable story itself, but what’s even more incredible is how he’s managed to take what he’s learned and turn it into wisdom for others.
Before we spoke, I watched his TEDx talk again, and one specific thing he said really got me thinking. He said that we often believe that our intention has to come before action. That we need to believe we can do something before we get started. Sometimes, though, he says, action has to come first.
“Our thoughts can empower or imprison. They empower when we try something new, and they imprison when we let them convince us to stay comfortable.” – Skip Prichard
That reminded me of a favorite quote of mine from President Barack Obama: “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something.” Note that Obama didn’t say, “Get up and believe something,” or “Get up and think something.”
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something.” -Barack Obama
Eric believes, and I agree, that when we take a small step—any kind of action—it has a kind of “self-inspiring” motivation for us. We experience the reality of having accomplished something. There’s a power in that, isn’t there? We can check something off the list. We can say, “Dear Diary: today I did this thing.” Then the second step becomes easier, because it’s no longer just an intention—it’s a continuation.
“Having the support and encouragement of other people, and having them hold us accountable, can mean the difference between success and failure when it comes to changing behavior.” – Eric Zimmer
Listen to Aim Higher on iTunes here.
Eric has a number of other good pieces of advice for people looking to “make change last.” And I always love hearing how he compares personal change to the board game “Risk.” You should listen for no other reason than that. It’s a three-step system that relies on how he got good at playing that game as a kid. It makes a lot of sense, and it will give you a clear, simple path to making small changes that build into something lasting.
Eric’s podcast can be found here (this is the episode where he interviewed me).
Image Credit: Ross Findon