Personal change must come from within–nobody can do it for you. The best trainer, coach or therapist in the world cannot make the personal changes you seek. They can only lead you to the trailhead. You must walk the path. One of the main prerequisites for true and lasting change is rigorous and constant self-evaluation. It is imperative that you shed light on the traits you possess and how they work for or against you.

Here’s a self-evaluation exercise that can get you started. 

First, catalogue the things you do well.

This way you can reinforce the people, places, and things that enrich your existence. Itemize the ways you are grateful. (After all, no matter how bad you’ve got it, things can always be worse. It is important to acknowledge your good attributes before you assess your shortcomings.

1. Inventory 10 things you are grateful for. Imagine how your life would be different if you did not have them.
2. Who are the 6 most important people in your life? Why? Think of what life would be without them. How would that affect you? (Not necessary to limit the list to 6 people)
3. Name 5 positive qualities about yourself–qualities which serve you well and set you apart.

Next, identify the thoughts and behaviors that are standing in your way or working against you.

The purpose of your existence must be to grow and develop as a human being. To do this you must learn from your failures. To enhance the quality of your life you need an idea of the following:

1. In a perfect world how would your life look different in 6 months? How would your life look different in a year? 5 years? Be as specific as possible. In order for your ideal life to materialize, what thoughts and behaviors do you need to change or develop? Think about how you would feel if your life stays the same. Then, think about how you will feel if you are able to make the changes necessary and construct the life you envision. (This must be realistic–winning the lottery does not count).
2. How are the relationships in your life? How can you make them better? Be specific. What can you do to strengthen the meaningful relationships in your life? Do you have close interpersonal relationships that are counterproductive?
3. How would you like others to view you as a person? How do they view you now?
4. What are 10 things you would like to accomplish before you die? Why?
5. What do you want from life? If you are unhappy about things, how will you feel if they never change?

The bigger picture

I rode by a cemetery today and saw a man standing over a tombstone. It was a somber scene and cause for reflection. There in the cold, hands in his pockets, he stood looking down upon a gravesite marking the name of someone he loved, but can no longer talk to.

We live once, and are not guaranteed another day. Why waste time going through the motions? If you can conceptualize something, you can achieve it. However, “faith without works is dead”. You can choose to be a victim of your thoughts or cultivate thoughts that will transform your behavior and thus, your life.

Our thoughts influence everything we do and feel. Yet, a thought by itself is abstract and intangible unless you move it to action. Make your thoughts pass from the ephemeral world of “ idea” into the physical world in the form of action and deed. The first step in this process is to take a thought and write it down, making it concrete through transcription.

It works. My life is evidence of that.

“No journey carries you far unless it goes an equal distance into the world within…
-Lilian Smith, author of Strange Fruit.

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