Change can involve excitement and be seen as a great opportunity or be scary and like the worst thing that can happen. Whether it is a positive or negative experience depends on a person’s attitude. Regardless of how change is experienced, normalizing change is the path to a fulfilled life.
A baby’s first steps are wobbly, but ultimately result in a flop. Moving from middle school to high school for the first time is something to look forward to, but high school students can be intimidating. Leaving the house for college means freedom and independence, but also the potential for homesickness, intimidation by arrogant professors and hard-to-get-together roommates. The first day of the first real job is the start of a new chapter in life, but feeling totally stupid is common.
The above experiences are a common path for students pursuing higher education. Real change starts by making tough choices. After getting to high school, will the student respond appropriately or react negatively to bullies and gossips? Were the challenges of pursuing higher education addressed rather than avoided or denied? Does fear of asking questions and false pride determine how the new job goes?
Tough choices continue as life goes on. Mel Robbins, author of The 5 second rule attributes that personal exit from bankruptcy and heavy drinking began with a 5-4-3-2-1 counting process back to launch out of bed in the morning. The story is mostly about a desperate need to change direction in his life by ignoring feelings and taking action to improve. Mel advocates the seemingly meaningless process of counting 5-4-3-2-1 and launch getting out of bed instead of hitting the snooze button began the road to recovery that led him to be one of the best speakers in the world.
The key to Mel’s success is being smart about what needs to be done and taking action to do it by not giving in to what feels comfortable. Another bad boy it is analysis paralysis that involves overthinking that ultimately results in dissuading you from doing anything. While research varies, many would agree that it takes at least 21 days to form a habit. The time it takes to form a habit is hard because change is a challenge! Failed New Year’s resolutions are a constant test.
An accompaniment bad boy for analysis paralysis is a cognitive distortion. Cognitive distortions are simply ways the mind convinces itself of something that isn’t really true. Inaccurate thoughts reinforce negative thinking. The tricky part is that a logic is built around false ideas. Below are some common distortions that people use:
Pessimism: amplifying the negative by filtering out the positive.
Helplessness – feeling powerless in relation to what is happening in life.
Overgeneralization: Basing an opinion on a single piece of evidence.
Blaming – “it’s not my fault, you don’t understand.”
Emotional Reasoning: Feelings are automatically indicative of what is true.
Change attempts are unlikely with dominant cognitive biases. That’s why The 5 Second Rule is so effective at carrying out a predetermined decision. The only thing to think about is repeating the 5 second countdown to take action. Distortions based on feelings or overthinking should be ignored.
Answering five questions serves as further help in determining when and how to change:
Where are you? Take an honest and objective look at your state right now physically, emotionally, relationshipally, mentally (academically), spiritually, and financially.
Where are you going and why? Write down dreams and gain insight and purpose to stay focused.
Who are you? Know that every person is talented, gifted, and destined for great things. The hardest person to convince of this is you.
What are you doing important? Pay it forward.
When and how will you initiate the changes needed to be smart about higher education and live a life that matters?
Start using the 5 second rule: 5-4-3-2-1, start answering these questions now!