One of my favorite books is Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. This book discusses how to make changes in your life and how willpower is not the answer. I like their philosophy because it has you look at 6 sources of influence in your life. It helps you identify these sources that are working against you and shows you how to turn them into positive influences. And, just like each organizing solution I provide is unique to that person or family, your path to change is unique.
Here is an overview of the 6 sources of influence. We will get into much more detail over the next few weeks.
Personal Motivation: Personal motivation is all about how you think about your future and why you’re making these changes. It’s all about the ‘why’. Maybe you want to be able to have people over for dinner and are tired of the dining table always being covered in paperwork. Or maybe you really want to save money for a vacation but keep buying stuff you don’t need.
Personal Ability: This is all about the skills you have to make changes. Do you know how to set up a place (and routine) for all the paperwork coming into your house? Do you need to figure out how to set up a budget or understand what’s behind your desire to overspend?
Social Motivation and Social Ability: Social Motivation and Social Ability look at those around you and whether they are a friend or an accomplice. Do you have a friend you have lunch with every Saturday, who also likes to shop? Who is influencing you in a positive way? Can you make more friends who help and talk with those who don’t?
Structural Motivation and Structural Ability: This is about creating incentives and controlling your space to help you reach your change goals. What is going to motivate you along the way? Reward small wins and find inexpensive ways to motivate yourself. How can you change your environment to keep you on track?
Many of these sources of influence are invisible to you. Until you become aware of them, you will be unable to change them. This means you get to be both the scientist and the subject in your life. You learn what influences are at work in your life.
Here are some other things to think about as you begin to identify these sources of influence in your own life.
- What are your crucial moments? Where is it that you fall short of your goals?
- These moments may be physical, emotional, or involve certain people or places. Start becoming aware of these moments.
- What are your vital behaviors? What actions do you want to take when you are in a crucial moment?
- These actions or guidelines help influence your behavior.
When making a change, it’s important to use all 6 sources of influence, not pick a few. Also, just because something doesn’t work or you have a bad day, don’t quit. Use that information to your advantage and turn it into a learning experience.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll get into more detail of each source of influence. I’ll share a few examples and I want you to think about how these 6 sources of influence can help you reach your goals for the year.