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A young person I know was explaining to me the changes that he wanted to make in his life. At one point in the conversation he got excited and said, “I am going to make a 360 degree change in my life.” I appreciated the sentiment, and I struggled not to laugh. I didn’t want to interrupt his excitement to point out that turning 360 degrees would point him right back in the direction he was already heading.
You might be laughing to yourself, believing that what this young person meant to say was, “I am going make a 180 degree change in my life.” But that’s not correct either. Turning 180 degrees means that you completely change directions. If you were heading north, changing 180 degrees means you are heading south. That kind of serious correction may be necessary from time to time. But most of the time the corrections you need to make are something less than that.
Let’s use the metaphor “179-degrees” to describe these changes. It’s less than 180 degrees. Reaching your goals in business, in sales, and life requires that you trim you sails and make adjustments. But it’s likely you are not off course by so much that you have to change directions completely. Changing that much is what causes people to go from failed effort to failed effort, always seeking the magic bullet answer.
Here’s a personal example. Last year I lost 25 pounds. For years I had a healthy smoothie for breakfast (one cup of frozen mixed berries, one cup of frozen spinach, two scoops of carb-free Iso-Pure protein powder, aloe vera, ground flax seed, and water in a blender). I almost always had a salad with chicken for lunch. But it was dinners and snacking with my three kids on the weekends that kept the weight on. To lose the weight, I stopped eating bad carbs and snacking with the kids and the pounds fell off. I didn’t exercise once during the time I lost the weight. I wasn’t that far off, and I changed something far less than 180 degrees.
Whether your goals are around your physical health, your financial health, your results in business, or your results in sales, reaching those goals requires that you make changes. You arrived at your present state by holding certain beliefs and taking certain actions as a result of those beliefs. To reach your desired future state you need new beliefs and new actions. But everything you believe and everything you’re doing isn’t wrong. You might not be that far off.
Have you ever tried to make 180 degree turn only to find out that it was too much change and that it was impossibly difficult to sustain? It might not have even been necessary.
Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef has made his career by studying how get massive changes with a little effort as possible. He searches for the “minimum effective dosage,” the least amount of work that you can do to produce outstanding results. He looks for “effectiveness” instead of changes that require massive effort.
Think of some area of your life where you want better results. What are the 179-degree (less than 180) changes that you can make to produce those results?
When something isn’t working, we often want to scrap the whole idea, believing that the idea was bad or that we failed. But that isn’t always true. Sometimes you’re mostly right, but you need to trim the sails to produce the results you’re after. Think of some project that you’ve abandoned (or that you are about to abandon). What are the 179-degree changes you might make to produce better results instead of abandoning your project?
What are the one or two little actions you can take (or stop taking) that would change your results and correct your course?