There’s so much to do and never enough time! I feel so pressured and hassled all day, every day, that I ultimately get nothing accomplished.

Then I feel depressed.
I’ve dieted successfully—dozens of times! I know I’m overweight and I really want to change. I read informative sources, set goals, tell myself,
“you can do it!” But after a short while, I fizzle. I can’t keep myself motivated.
Our marriage has gone flat. We don’t even fight that much anymore. The children occupy so much of our time. But it’s more—we just don’t have the spark we used to or we would certainly find time to relate. It’s a lot easier to just keep ignoring.
Ignoring. Actively, a powerful behavior modification tool (when combined with reinforcement); passively, a signal that something is wrong. You are stuck—in neutral, and you just won’t move forward. Often, it’s not for lack of effort. Having tried to change many times and failed, you are left to believe that change is not possible. But how many of those times did you change what you tried?
Quite often, when something we do fails to produce the desired result we just try the same thing again—harder. And the cycle of repetitive failures begins. In contrast, successful change results from effective beliefs and actions. A series of powerful habits that promote smooth and steady movement toward a desired outcome.
In order to become an effective individual, it is important to understand your “gears”; and how to shift them. Gears or “contexts” are frames of reference—the way we perceive something. During the course of the year, being overweight or smoking at times seem mildly annoying, inconvenient. But the desire to take effective action and change may not be sufficient. In contrast, on New Year’s Eve, there is suddenly a rush of
motivation—a pledge of allegiance to better health. Inotherwords, there is a shift in our frame of reference or context. “Why” doesn’t really matter. Of importance, is the fact that this frame can be stored and accessed later when you shift gears to get going.
All human behavior (and attitudes) occurs within a framework. Another way of viewing it is a state of consciousness. These states or contexts or “gears” become stored with their respective behaviors and are usually retrieved fairly easily. “Winter” with it’s attendant weather, activities and perils means one thing (context) around the Holidays; and quite a different thing (context) afterwards.
How many of you felt a tinge of depression, dismay or anxiety at the thought of going back to work this past Monday? The beginning of the first work week of the year. Now shift gears: Think of a time you left for vacation on a mid-week day. How did you feel by comparison going to work that previous Monday?
It is the ability to shift gears that gets you out of neutral. And allows you to perform in ways that are exceedingly more effective. Effective habits lead to positive change. There are many effective gears. Try a couple—then come back for more:

  • Access confidence. The ability to feel self-assured and project that image in public situations. Surely there was at least one context in your life where this occurred—graduation, promotion, a commitment of love from a significant other. Recall one or more of these situations as you go through your day. Be sure to focus outwardly—on others—instead of being “inside” running a lot of useless dialogue about past failures. Smile, make eye-contact, offer comments to others. Confidence breeds confidence.

  • Be Response-able. Take control, be proactive—be “the man(woman)!” The ability to select a response means you are empowered. Your behavior is the product of conscious choice based upon values that are effectively goal-oriented. In contrast, people are often reactive in that they empower conditions to control them. For example, if the weather is good, they feel good. Otherwise, it adversely affects their attitude and performance. We have even developed a way to justify this limitation by assigning it a name, “Seasonal Affective Disorder.”

In contrast, proactive people carry their own good weather with them so they can continue to perform effectively.
Context shifts move us from one way of seeing the world to another. And those shifts create powerful changes in the way we perform and relate with others. So get the new year off to a great start. Shift gears and hit the ground running!