Home Inspiration Personal Development The busy person’s guide to change

The busy person’s guide to change

The dilemma of choice

We live in a world of unlimited choice but limited time and energy. The hour that we spend on one activity could alternatively have been spent on a myriad of other chores, tasks or limited time and energy that are constantly vying for our attention.

The key dilemma is choosing how to spend your time and energy.

The secret to success is action rather than words as reflected in Nike’s slogan of ‘just do it’. Steven King in his book On Writing suggests that the role of writers is simply to write. They don’t allow anything to distract them. Not writers block. Not laundry. Not chores. No excuses!

The first step to achieving a dream, a strategy, a mission or a goal is to allocate time to it. The second step is to focus energy on those actions that will take us step by step towards our goal – without allowing distractions to become excuses. This is the essence of managing change.

This sounds simple, but for any busy person, finding the time to do what we know is important for our future, has to be balanced with doing the work, and chores that are important to our present.

  1. Focus on changes that are worth the effort.
  2. Invest time to free up time – so as to have more time to spend on what is really important to yourself and to your company.
  3. Invest your energy. Take action to reduce the sources of negative energy in your life. Do things that bring you positive energy.
  4. Create a balance between short-term chores or operations, and long-term dreams or strategies.
  5. Create space in your life to reward yourself and your team. Take time out to recharge your energy.

Eliminate frustrations

Frustrations and irritations consume time and energy and may even affect your self- confidence.

Have you ever noticed yourself complaining like a broken record about the same issues year after year? Perhaps there is someone in your working life or home life that doesn’t behave towards you in the way you’d like him or her to. They may take advantage of your good nature, abuse your time, or act in a disrespectful way.

Or there are victims in your life who drain your energy with their continual moaning about the injustices of the world around them, but always have a thousand excuses why your proposed solution will never work for them.

Perhaps there is a health issue you’ve never had the time to attend to. Maybe something in your house needs to be fixed but it’s easier to live with the irritation than to make the time to have it attended to? Perhaps there is something wrong in your life that is affecting your self- esteem and causing you to feel guilty every time you don’t address it.

Have you ever calculated how much time and energy you devote to repetitive frustrations? If you could get rid of these frustrations how much time and emotional energy would this save you on an annual or monthly basis?

Imagine if you could direct the time you spend on negative frustrations to positive activities that would make you more successful and happier in the future. Would this not be a good investment in time?

Back out of a dead end.

  • Is your life at a dead end?
  • You’ve been on a diet for years, and still not achieved your goal weight.
  • You’ve been seeing the same psychologist for years, but you still feel unhappy.
  • You’ve been passed over for promotion again.
  • The relationship you’ve been in for 2 years is still not going anywhere.
  • Something in your life is stuck.

It is time to let go of a habit, and discover a dream.

Get organised.

  • Where can you save time by being more organised?
  • Spending too much time on washing dishes? Get a dishwasher.
  • Spending too much time on the Internet? Invest in a faster ADSL line.
  • Spending time on watering your garden? Invest in a system that automatically pumps your used bath water into your garden.
  • Spending too much time on housework? Hire someone to help you.
  • Spending time on shopping? Shop via the Internet.
  • Spending too much time hunting for lost documents? Get a filing system.
  • Finding it hard to keep track of your life? Get a Palm V or an iPAQ.
  • Spending too much time on the cell phone? Switch it off.

Get organised. Get disciplined. Get productive and free up time to do the things your really want to.

Create a dream

There is nothing that empowers and energises us more than creating an exciting dream for our future. And then tasting the sweet success that comes from achieving that dream. There is nothing that demoralises us more than failing to achieve a dream/goal.

10 Reasons why we don’t achieve our dreams

  1. It isn’t our dream. It’s someone else’s dream. We’re not excited about working towards it.
  2. We don’t commit the time.
  3. We do commit time to work on our dream, but we’re overcommitted. By trying to do too much at once, we do nothing well.
  4. We don’t believe in ourselves. We don’t believe we will be successful.
  5. We wait for others to help us.
  6. We follow the ‘advice’ of others’ rather than listening to them, and then making our own decisions.
  7. We allow ourselves to be distracted. We collect excuses.
  8. Too much work makes us dull and uncreative. We don’t allocate time in our diaries to recharge our batteries.
  9. We give up too soon because we expect instant success.
  10. We sabotage ourselves. We fear success.

Why strategies don’t get implemented.

  1. The strategies aren’t powerful. They are words rather than a call to action. People don’t see why they should change to make the strategies work.
  2. People don’t want the strategies to work. The implications of successful implementation may harm their status or future careers.
  3. The change leaders fail to analyse the implications of the new strategy on other systems and processes within the organisation.
  4. The leaders send mixed messages from the old strategy and the new strategy. Staff don’t know what is expected of them.
  5. The company tries to change too much at once without prioritising their changes. People become confused and stressed.
  6. The roles, responsibilities and deadlines for strategic projects are not clear.
  7. There is a lack of action. Leaders focus on knowing rather than doing.
  8. Leaders are put off by resistance to change.
  9. People stop at barriers rather than removing them.
  10. Implementation is seen as negative and stressful rather than creative and exciting.

How to achieve your dreams

  1. Simplify your life and work. Invest time now to create time and energy for your dreams.

Take action to finally get rid of frustrations that dominate your life.
Spring clean your life – get rid of people, chores and habits that waste your time or energy.
Get organised. Find ways to automate delegate or outsource tasks that don’t add value to your life.

  • Dream. Invest in your self. Sow the seeds for future success today.Take time to dream. Think of projects, hobbies, activities or jobs that excite and inspire you.
    Go to places that nurture your creative side. Go into nature. Take holidays.
    Spend time with people who inspire you.
  • Live a balanced life.Plan your day and week around energy, achievement and balance.
    Begin your day with a gift to yourself. Read an inspiring card, go for a walk, start your day with music.
    At work tackle the tasks that are hardest to do first, and get them over with.
    Schedule work that requires less effort in the afternoon.
    Don’t have an open door policy. Allocate a certain time each afternoon for tasks such as seeing people, answering emails, and attending meetings.
    Take time to recharge your emotional batteries. Take time to do things that energise and inspire you.


Every week, look back at what you have achieved. Acknowledge your achievements and reward yourself.

Ruth Tearle is a strategy and change consultant. She is also author of the best selling books “Blackboards, Bubbles &  Cappuccinos”, “Ride the Wild Tiger” and “Mastering Personal Change.” For more information visit www.changedesigns.co.za

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