Updated on 03.25.09

You Can’t Get Better Results Without Changing Anything

Trent Hamm

Some of us want to get out of debt. Some of us want a better career. Some of us are shooting for financial independence. Some of us would be content to get all the bills paid at the end of the month.

Most of us want something. Most of us want change from where we are right now.

But we want it to be easy. We don’t want to let go of the comforts of our current life. It’s certainly a lot easier – and more enjoyable on many levels – to just keep going through the same routines, doing the same actions, and subscribing to the same ideas.

It’s certainly tough for me, even now. It’s always easier to step into my old routine, to coast. I wake up. I write. I read and answer email. I do some household tasks. I play with my kids. I spend some time with my wife. I go to sleep.

Sure, I can keep that routine. It’s easy. But if I stick with that same old routine, I don’t get to the places I want to go. I want to be financially independent. I want to write and publish fiction. I want to have a bigger emergency fund. I want to have a third child.

I even have plans to get to those places.

The problem usually is acting on those plans when it’s so much easier to stick with our same old routines, our same old beliefs, and our same old life management strategies.

It all boils down to one question.

What are you doing today to make your big goals a reality?

Today. Not tomorrow. Not in six months. Today.

I’ve put a Post-It note on the top of my monitor, a narrow yellow strip that simply says what am I doing today to reach fi? It’s the only such note on my monitor, and the bright yellow stands out sharply from the surroundings. My eyes are drawn to it several times each day.

And then I look around for something new I can try. Something I can do differently.

I seek out new avenues of frugality – and then I get up and try them. I try to think of new ways to earn money online without undermining my writing (which means trying to keep the ads at a reasonable minimum). I work on interesting article ideas that will draw readers and make them think and make them talk.

Most importantly, I try to look beyond the simple rules of thumb that guide so much of my life. Are those rules of thumb really accurate, or is there something useful and valuable hidden behind the curtain?

It’s hard to change. It’s hard to discard ideas and routines and habits that seem familiar.

But if you’re completely unwilling to make that kind of change, you’re going to have an extremely difficult time reaching the goals you have in life.

Good luck.

Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...
  1. Christopher says:

    So true! If what you’re doing today isn’t getting the desired results, change your world and see what happens.

    Oh, and Trent?

    “Good luck.”

    Not a factor, my man. =)

  2. Patrick_C says:

    The learning never stops, not till the day you die.

  3. Rich Lykyu says:

    Very true, many people want a change but dont want to put forth the effort to make the change. I have read (I think it was Brain Tracy) who says you should try to accomplish five things per day toward reaching your goal. This method is very effect at getting over the hardest part, getting started.

  4. candy says:

    Wasn’t Trent being facetious when he said “good luck”?

  5. Christopher says:

    @candy (#3): Now that I re-read it, I think you’re right. I misread his statement, my mistake.

  6. lurker carl says:

    Many people want the end result without going through the trials and tribulations of getting there. They don’t realize the process of obtaining the end result is how you learn to sustain your goal. It’s the same idea as “fake it ’til you make it” or “wishing on a star” – they are empty promises for success.

  7. ancienthomesteader says:

    I’m getting short on the timeline, so to speak, and have reached the goals set. Didn’t make everything so formula oriented though. Flexibility, fun, and an open mind will still get you where you think you need to be.

  8. I like this. It is so true. Just because we have goals doesn’t mean that they are just going to happen. We need to work towards accomplishing them, and sometimes it isn’t easy to make those changes. Great post!

  9. Jan Gordon says:

    “Keep doing what you’ve been doing and you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.”

    If you’re happy with something in your life…just stay with it. If you want change of some kind, you must make the changes to make it happen.

  10. So true. We have to put forth the effort to make a change or things will remain the same.

  11. Nice call to action post. It’s way too easy to get stuck in routines and to wake up several years later and realize you’ve lost a chunk of your time here.

    Leverage your goals to motivate yourself to take actions today. I couldn’t agree more!

  12. Trent,

    This was a great post, and I agree wholeheartedly. One of the reasons that Financial Peace University worked so well for my wife and me is that it provided a very clear plan of attack to follow. Once we had the had the plan of attack and the motivation to move forward, the results just fell into place.

    For us, the motivation to move forward on the plan was hope that we could get out of debt and stop living paycheck-to-paycheck. Through FPU, we actually became convinced that it was possible to reach the goals. Perhaps this is the key to meeting many of life’s goals with a plan. We have to convince ourselves that the goals really our achievable.

    Our perseverance with the plan resulted in the desired outcome.

  13. Justin says:

    I got tired of being in a situation where I was unemployed for more than 6 months with my wife bringing in a meager paycheck. We were down to basics as far as I was concerned (2 cells, internet, dish tv, zero debt) but we weren’t getting ahead.

    After over 6 months of looking for jobs, applying, interviewing, not being qualified, etc., I decided to call a former employer and ask what he might have available. Turns out he was looking for a tech in San Antonio to help out. Pay will be good and I’ll finally be able to get our emergency fund healthier.

    It will be a significant outlay of money to move, but the rewards of CHANGING MY SITUATION are well worth it.

  14. Jessica says:

    I’ve been enjoying reading and taking action on some of the stuff suggested by the website: Take Back Your Brain, after it was mentioned on GRS.

    I recently installed the Google Gadget and have quotes and pictures of my goals and dreams flipping by, being seen and reacted to by my subconscious.

  15. Sherry says:

    Great comments & so true. We “reap what we sow” whether that be good or bad. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are choosing “bad”, but in not choosing to take steps towards our goals, we are actually choosing to do something/nothing that is in opposition of our goals.

    I had to laugh, please don’t be offended, but all I could think of is Dr. Phil saying “how’s that workin’ for you?” We so badly want our lives to be different, yet we are such creatures of habit. We just keep on doing that sames things expecting a different outcome. So, when we don’t get the results we want, I guess we should say “how’s that working for you?” and if it’s not working, then we need to make a course correction.

    Just my thoughts…great website, learned about it from an article in the Sunday paper…

    Thanx for your time & efforts…

  16. speedy says:

    I realized that I was becoming too much a creature of habit and was not as flexible as I should be, despite reading tons of motivational books and blogs. What finally helped me? I found and married a guy who is flexible, who plays everything by ear, keeps his options open and waits to see what opportunities come along.

    It has been an eye-opening experience to watch someone who does everything so differently, and I am learning to see the world through his eyes.

    Granted, it’s a lot of change for me to swallow all at once. But if I can keep my balance through the big changes now and can grow in the process, then I will be better for it and will achieve far more than I would have on my own.

  17. Ken says:

    Very true statement. We are creatures of habit and despise change at times. ALmost in the same breath I wonder why things aren’t better. It’s about the man in the mirror.

  18. IRG says:

    So true, Trent. You can’t solve a problem (or grow) by using the same thinking and behavior and habits that got you stuck and/or into trouble in the first place.

    Failing to change, however, is the ultimate in self-sabotage. It’s a guarantee we’ll stay stuck and not pursue our dreams and goals.

    But creating true change is a process. Bitty steps help. Even one. Once you start, each step, no matter how small, when reinforced, will keep you moving forward towards a goal (although it may not happen as fast or as easily as you’d like). Even doing one thing starts the snowball rolling.

    We resist change because it is always easier to do what we know, even if it does not get us the results we want. Why? Fear. Fear of the unknown.

    Fear is the foundation and until you realize you have more to lose by doing the same stuff, you won’t try something new.

    When we finally realize/believe that we have more to gain and less to lose by change, we do embrace it. But most of us need a mighty kick in the pants to MOVE.

    Perhaps if we embraced trial-and-error for the sake of learning, and not just worry about the outcome (which we can never guarantee), we might find it easier to embrace change.

    As the book says: Feel the fear and do it anyway.

    Really, what do we have to lose?

    Or as a wise friend of mine says when asked to contemplate something new, different or outside their comfort zone?

    What the heck?

    Haven’t done X this way before? What the heck? Give it a try.

  19. Matt says:

    One thing I recommend for self-improvement is the 4 day win strategy from Martha Beck. It is a weight loss strategy that I’ve learned about from my girlfriend, but from listening to the audiobook with her the principles are applicable to anything where you want to change behavior. Beck is strongly against the idea that you can change your behavior by force, and that has helped a lot for my own self-improvement goals in our blunt force culture.

  20. Chelle says:

    They say the definition of insanity is to continue the same behavior and expect different results! It is always good to take today and do as much with you can with it, rather than wait and months from now wonder why you didn’t do it back then.

  21. Jessica says:

    Sounds a little like the Biggest Loser tagline.
    “What have you done today to make you feel proud?”
    Same principles.

  22. In an effort to reach my long-term goals, this year I’ve started a blog, acquainted myself with coding, and brushed up on Adsense and affiliate linking. All of these things were foreign to me at the start of the year, but I’ve jumped in head first to break the inertia. Most people are afraid to leave their comfort zone.

  23. John Frainee says:

    People are allergic to change. What is it about change that stops us? It’s overwhelming. We need to take baby steps toward our goals. You’re right Trent, we get stuck in our routines. I think the solution is breaking it down into little, tiny steps. Hopefully this will get us closer to our goals than we ever have been before.

  24. I just wrote a post about breaking through that wall that keeps us from going through with these kinds of changes and I figured out the best strategy is to Just Do It.
    Sounds simple…which would be nice if it was.

  25. Andrea says:

    John C Maxwell, Brian Tracy and Larry Winget (more in your face about it) all offer great books on changing. Thinking for a Change, Change your thinking change your life, and Shut up stop whining and get a life respectively are the three i am thinking of.

    Winget compares it to needing to being uncomfortable before you make the shift. I think he is right on. You dont often make a move on the couch until you are uncomfortable.

    Same would apply to your finances.

    As soon as things start to go a little better, you have to keep challenging yourself to find that discomfort so you keep moving ahead to the next easy spot. Then the process can start all over again.

    For those of us who still drive to work, just driving a different

  26. They say, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results . . . “

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *