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Motivation and Change

By: Ken Austin

Thousands of books and perhaps even more websites are dedicated to the topic of self help. For $99.99 split into three equal installments (and don’t forget shipping and handling) you can learn how to change your life for the better by purchasing such and such’s book, DVD, or audio CDs…each guaranteed to change your life by fashioning you into a better, smarter, thinner, richer person full of boundless energy and wisdom.

  Some of these products are in fact somewhat helpful. Others are not so helpful but are at least humorous. Others, well, some of these are just downright ridiculous! It makes one wonder why use the term “self help” at all considering that many are turning to self-proclaimed gurus for guidance (many of whom are neither better, smarter, thinner, richer, etc.) Is it really self help, after all, if you aren’t in fact helping yourself?

A close examination of much of the self-help movement (notice I said much not all) will reveal that most of the so-called “secrets” of these gurus are not secrets at all but rather common sense truisms stated rather cleverly. Regardless, there really are no secrets at all to self help and indeed most of the mantras of the self-help movement are simple statements of obvious fact. In fact, you all have at your disposal right now four powerful life changing principles…are you using them?

Common Sense Principle #1: You must desire change in your life. Now that is pretty commonsensical, isn’t it? Really, it can’t get much simpler than this! Change (at least not the type that you hope for) will not come unless you first desire that change to take place in the first place. Another word for desire, in the present context, is goal. But pure desire, a lone goal, isn’t enough in and of itself (though one could argue that if one really desires something, then he or she will pursue it but I digress). Desire must be accompanied by a strong willingness for change.

Common Sense Principle #2: You must actively will that which you desire to come about.
Desire is not itself enough, though, when coupled with will you can surely achieve great things. Willing is not the same as wanting. Willing is the conscious application of effort to go about obtaining your goal(s). Even so, desire + will do not guarantee success. There are other principles that must first be in place.

Common Sense Principle #3: That which you desire (your goal), that which you apply your will to accomplish, must be realistic. If your goal is not realistic then you are setting yourself up for failure from the start. Sure, many things are possible but not everything is in fact probable. Be realistic in the development of your goals. Despite what some gurus may have you believe, you’ll never be able to fly through the air like Superman no matter how positive your thoughts!

Common Sense Principle #4: You must have a plan for accomplishing your goal. There must be in place a concrete series of attainable events which, once accomplished, subsequently lead to the final attainment of the goal. This plan can be understood best as analogous to a road map—it shows where you are now , where you are going and what stands in your way along the path. The primary point here is that there is a path! Mark this path on the road map to your goal and follow it. Sometimes, to be sure, one may have to backtrack, take another road, etc., but with a map the destination remains in site at all times.

Well, now you have your disposal (actually you’ve always had them!) four common sense principles for effecting change in your life. I apologize if not a one of them offered a profound glimpse into my “superior” mind, failed to give you a deeper understanding of the universe, did not leave you with a warm and fuzzy mystical experience or whatever else the self-help gurus provide you with. I have, however, left you with four principles that work. And each and every one of you is aware of these principles and the power inherent in them in combination. They are self evident, simple, and granted perhaps a little boring, however they are effective. Start applying them today to accomplish your goals and achieve your desires.


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