Have you ever seen a new-born rhinoceros?
A few years ago, with a stroke of good luck, I did. Just seven hours after the calf was born, my tram at the San Diego Wild Animal Park rolled by and there was the not-so-little guy, standing next to his Mom. Transformation doesn’t take long in the rhino world; within sixty minutes of birth that calf was up on his feet.
When you’re not a rhinoceros, change takes a little longer.
When my client Chris asked, “Why does it take me so long to learn to do things differently?” you’d have thought from his frustration that he’d been trying for years. In fact, it had only been three weeks since he’d begun changing his approach to taking on new client projects – a significant shift that included getting comfortable with occasionally saying no.
According to John C. Norcross, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, it takes a minimum of three to six months to make a new behavior permanent. While that’s not much time in an overall life, it can seem like forever when you want to change something now.
As has been said by many wise folks over the centuries, have patience!
Whether you’re looking to alter a behavior, learn a new skill, or modify the way you allocate your time, start with a small step you’re confident you can achieve. Chris finally stopped trying to go instantaneously from zero to sixty, and picked one thing to focus on: letting his phone go to voice mail so he wouldn’t be caught off guard. That one small change made a big difference, helping him build momentum before moving on to the next step. And with each success, his patience – and confidence – grew.
What’s a change you want to make?
Now, what’s a manageable step you can take? Closing your door for 30 minutes a day to get thinking time, taking a deep breath when you feel your stress levels rising, or working out once a week to get back into an exercise routine are all examples of starting small. And if these seem too big, chunk it into an even more bite-sized piece.
You may not advance as quickly as a rhino, but with a few baby steps and a little patience, you’ll be amazed at your progress. And before you know it, you’ll be living your day the way you want to live your life.