Imagine a carpenter turning up to start construction on a new deck at your house, and all they carried with them was a hammer.
It’s hard to imagine how they could complete the task ahead of them with only one tool. Of course, they never do; a professional tradesperson brings with them their toolbox.
They know that you have to use the right tool for the job. That’s what separates a professional from an amateur. Not just experience and learned skill but knowing the right tool for the job.
When you look at change and particularly personal change, it’s easy to believe that there’s one tool, trick or thing you need to learn, and you’ll be able to reach nirvana.
That point where all your troubles melt away, and you stride forth day to day with confidence, certainty and all the skills you need to achieve your wildest desires.
Maybe that’s the fault of the people delivering their ideas, or more likely, it’s the fault of ourselves.
As consumers, we want a simple fix.
Whatever the problem is, we want to get someone to fix it quickly, efficiently, and as cost-effectively as possible to meet our budget. That’s totally understandable.
Why would we willingly want to sign up for a marathon if a 100m sprint will do?
It makes sense that when we look to transform ourselves, to create positive change in our lives, we would want to solve the immediate problem.
Whether that’s losing weight, getting fitter, making more money, getting out of debt, finding a partner etc., we seek a thing (process, tool, answer) that will help us resolve that.
And such tools exist.
Ways to help you change your habits, thinking differently, plan goals etc. Everything is out there. But yet, the end result still seems unattainable to many.
You start exercising more, but still can’t get to the weight you want. Or you have goals and are taking steps towards them, but just as you get a raise in your income, you end up with financial setbacks.
It has become apparent to me that when you see people making significant improvements in their lives, typically, it’s because they didn’t just turn up with a hammer.
They discovered a toolbox of things to help them, not just one tool like fixing a habit but other tools.
Let’s look at habits in themselves. And this famous quote by Will Durant.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.”
One could hypothesize then that we can transform areas of our lives simply by changing our habits. And in a simple form, I believe that to be true. I’ve used habit transformation in my own life to bring about change.
One of my favourite exponents of habit change is B.J.Fogg and his Three Tiny habits formula.
On the wall in my studio, I also have this quote from Jim Rohn:
Success is a few simple disciplines, practised every day;
While failure is simply a few errors in judgement, repeated every day.
You can overlay that into many different facets of your life. For example, people often ask how do I write my books while I have a business and other activities.
And the answer is simple.
Almost every day, I sit in a chair and write.
Before I created that discipline, I thought about writing a lot, but I chose to do other things instead. I watched tv, socialized, slept in etc. I made excuses – whatever they may have been; they were errors in judgement repeated often.
The change I made was to create a discipline, a repetitive habit, which lead to the successful completion of each novel.
The same is true for weight loss as a generality. Failure is making an error regularly about what you put in your mouth. No one puts on weight 10kg at a time; they do it one bite at a time or one drink at a time.
Losing that weight comes from the same process. Changing your habits, making new habits, creating a discipline around them.
No Magic Pill.
However, often applying the principles of habits, affirmations, or coaching – whatever the tool you pick – can be seen as the ultimate magic pill.
Which I believe is why it doesn’t lead to success. Simple because, as humans, we’re more complex than that.
Developing bad habits doesn’t just happen in isolation from the world. Often it comes from external influences, mindset issues (beliefs), situational factors. All of these can lead to you breaking previously good habits.
That’s where I’ve come to understand that just having a single tool or only wielding one device at a time can hinder the ability to make the personal transformations you want. I’d suggest it’s also similar within organizations.
Applying a one fit formula to culture or process change rarely works, especially if it’s applied top-down.
What I’ve found to be the solution for my change is ensuring I have multiple tools to apply at the right time — the right tool for the right job.
So when it’s habits that need to be changed, sure, I’ll deploy Tiny Habits or other habit-changing tools. When I hit a roadblock where I’m no longer getting results from those changed habits, or there’s something else at play, then it’s time to get a better tool.
So it would be best if you worked out what the problem is. Perhaps that’s where coaching or counselling might become a tool you utilize briefly (or longer) to help determine where the next layer (or level) of change is required.
It might be that despite all of the budgeting tools, money management tricks you’ve learned and deployed, you can’t get ahead with money.
At that point, you might learn about affirmations and positive visualization. “If I say it enough, I can make it happen.” Combined with the right habits, you may manifest some additional financial solutions, yet you could still hit roadblocks in your change.
Or, if you seek some help, you might uncover and expose some fundamental beliefs about money. Deep down, they might be causing you to sabotage what you say you want to achieve. So coaching might help reveal that, and then you can find tools that help you transform hidden beliefs into more applicable thoughts.
More than just positive affirmations but actual personal belief structures that define the values you live by. Many people aren’t even aware they have such beliefs.
You can hear what most people believe standing at a social gathering where people drink and chat about the many facets of life. Their opinions about work, money, the government, media, everything stems from underlying beliefs they hold.
Beliefs that drive everything in their lives.
So if you don’t address a belief and look at how it influences your life, then changing your habits, where you live, your job, none of that will impact the change you might think you want.
Multiple Tools in Your Toolbox
That’s where understanding there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution that you can pick up and apply. There’s going to be different tools for different people. Different speakers, authors, apps, songs, meditations, fitness routines, diets.
What matters is not the specific tool but understanding that there’s more to making change than one tool. You’re going to need a few, and some will wear out over time. So you’ll replace them. Maybe with a replica of the one, you had before, or maybe with fresh insight, you’ll find a better variation of that tool.
Change is a constant. Living with it, adapting to it, and learning new skills along the way shouldn’t be done alone. Keep an eye out for more tools that can help you change the way you’re approaching situations and watch your life unfold in fantastic and unexpected ways.