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No matter what you call it, do it now

Whether you need a job pivot, a career reinvention or a change in business strategy, they all mean that something isn’t working out the way you want and you need to make a change. Whatever you call it, this new view, attitude or approach to your life and business, just do it already. Over the years I’ve learned that the online world is a fascinating place. Through social media I’ve learned that not everyone shares the same definition of SPAM, self-promotion or “salesy” language. Comment boards have shown me that anonymity can bring out the very worst in some people. And, oddly enough, discussion groups also reveal that sometimes even business men and women like to wax philosophical. Some of the most active threads I’ve seen over the years involve hypothetical questions like, “What would you tell your twenty-year-old self?” and “If you could go back, what would you do differently in your career?” Sure, these discussions are fun, but are they really doing any good? Why not go ahead, since time machines are not hitting the stores anytime soon, and make those changes now?

Outside the realm of science fiction and fantasy the simple fact is that we cannot go back and relive our lives or rebuild our careers with knowledge and wisdom from today. What we can do however is make changes now that will increase our success and happiness as we move forward. While we can never relive our past, we can strategically improve our future.

Take just a few minutes—Start by waking up 15 minutes earlier, substituting a self improvement break for your coffee break, or staying up 15 minutes later. Use those few extra minutes to do something you’ve always “meant to do” like reading, exercise, or meditation. You don’t have to read an entire book, run five miles or achieve perfect mindfulness in order to set yourself up for a better day. Just a few minutes that you slowly and painlessly turn into a habit can make all the difference.

Tell someone—Sharing is good for the soul, and it keeps us accountable. For me, nothing insures that I will stick to a new routine more than knowing my accountability partner is going to call or email me sometime and ask about it. When you tell someone what you intend to do, you open up the opportunity for that person to provide you with moral support, helpful suggestions and when needed pointed reminders to stay on task. It is so much easier to change and tackle something difficult when you don’t feel like you are facing the challenge in isolation. Friends, colleagues and mastermind groups make great accountability partners. Sometimes however, we need someone a bit removed from the situation, someone who will not let us “off easy” and then it’s best to hire a coach.

One at a time, please—The key to making changes and making them stick is creating a new routine. Would you try to paint your kitchen, bathe a child, negotiate a real estate deal and do your taxes at the same time? Of course not. Changing long set patterns, even when we know they are unproductive, requires a lot of energy and it is best not to dilute your efforts by trying to make too many changes at once. Give yourself at least three weeks to a month to settle into your new (and better) strategy before you move on to the next item on your reinvention/change list. Don’t wait for the mood to strike you, the perfect timing or the invention of the time machine. If you see the changes you need to make, do it now. This moment will never come again.

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About Karen Southall Watts

In 2005, Karen Southall Watts drove alone, with most of her life in a station wagon, across the United States from North Carolina to the Northwest corner of Washington to start a new life. Karen has been a business consultant, college instructor, coach and speaker since 1999. Years of working in social services, experience as…