Soar like an eagle

This is a story about a large egg. This egg was one of four in a fragile eagle’s nest that rested on the side of a majestic mountainside. One day an earthquake rocked the mountain causing the egg to tumble down the mountain to a chicken farm in the valley below. By instinct, the chickens knew they must protect and care for the egg, so an old hen volunteered to nurture the large egg.

One day, the egg hatched and a beautiful eagle was born. But the eagle was raised to be a chicken. So, the eagle believed he was nothing more than a chicken. The eagle loved his home and family, but his spirit cried out for more. While playing a game on the farm with some of his chicken friends one day, the eagle looked to the skies and noticed a group of mighty eagles soaring above. “Oh,” the eagle cried, “I wish I could soar like those birds.”  The chickens roared with laughter, “You cannot soar with those birds. You are a chicken and chickens do not soar.”

The eagle continued staring at his real family up above, dreaming that he could be with them.  Each time the eagle would let his dreams be known, he was told it couldn’t be done. The eagle, after time, stopped dreaming and continued to live his life like a chicken. Finally, after a long life as a chicken, the eagle died…a chicken. – Attributable to Darren Hardy, Success Magazine

As you turn the calendar and resolve anew for 2015, here are some tips on how to soar like an eagle and avoid the complacency of a chicken:

#1 Avoid New Year’s resolutions, make a January resolution instead.

A year is a long period of time.  By shrinking the time period to a month, you will have a much better chance of following through with your resolution. Think, for example, that your house is a mess (sound familiar after the holidays?). Instead of thinking of it as one big house to organize, tackle one room at a time. Dave Ramsey’s methodology of reducing debt follows this strategy as well, pay off the smallest debts first and “taste the grape of success,” which will give you the confidence to keep marching forward.  Once January is over, and you are successful, you can take on February.

#2 Think of someone who has already achieved your goal or models the desired behavior and ask them how they did it.

Our instincts in this digital day and age take us to the internet for answers.

“If it’s on the Internet then it must be true, and you can’t question it” – Abraham Lincoln

Start with asking someone, a real live person. By doing so, you will not only put your resolution out there but you will also likely find an accountability partner. People love to share their success stories and by nature want to help.  Believe that and tap the people resources around you.

#3 Rally the Herd.

It is easier to persevere on a long journey when you’re traveling with a herd. In this situation, the herd can be one other person, two, or 10+ people. They will serve as accountability partners, and as people who you can share your struggles and successes with. This is the primary reason that fitness clubs do group fitness classes and challenges because they tend to be more successful than if an individual went on their own.

#4 Shape the path.

Your path is shaped in so many ways.  Traffic engineers want you to drive in an orderly fashion.  Grocery store managers put the milk in the back so you spend more time in the store.  The bank was tired of you leaving your card in the ATM machine so it gives it back to you BEFORE giving you the cash you requested.  Turn the tables and shape your own path to success. For example, if you want to start getting up earlier, set your alarm for 5:30am.  Then place an alarm clock in your kid’s room set for 5:32am. That will get you moving!  If you don’t have kids, improvise. Want to shorten your staff meetings? Try having everyone stand instead of sit.

#5 Find the bright spots, script the critical moves and point to the destination.

When assessing a behavior change, first start with what you are doing well! Then work those strengths into the change equation. Script the critical moves, lay out what each day’s behavior will look like. Every day. The longer you go with the script, the closer you will get to instinctual behavior. Point to the destination: what are the specific ways that you can measure change by the end of the month? What will success look like? Paint the picture. We can’t simply think our way into new behaviors. The equation to success is not ANALYZE – THINK – CHANGE, but rather SEE-FEEL-CHANGE.

#6 Bonus Key

Like these concepts? Some of them come from a great book, one of our favorites and one that will change the way you look at, well, change.  We are going to give away five of these books.  Send us your January resolution and we will put your name in the hat.

• Resolution
• Someone that models the changed behavior
• When you are going to talk to them about it
• The specific ways that you will use to measure success by months end

If you don’t win the book, we’ll tell you the title so you can get it on your own.

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Since 1995, Pittenger & Anderson has guided individuals and families going through money-in-motion events. We are a fee-only Registered Investment Advisor and a full-time fiduciary providing investment management, financial planning, and complimentary services to 700+ clients in over 30 U.S. states.

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