You don’t have to be a devout Christian to appreciate the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer. A staple of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and church sermons alike, Reinhold Niebuhr’s famous prayer asks God to “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
It’s a simple prayer that I’ve leaned on heavily at times over the years. It can be greatly comforting, but prayer alone isn’t powerful enough to create change in your life. You have to make a concerted effort.
Start with self-reflection. In therapy, a genuine breakthrough is a moment when things really start to click. It’s when change “takes.” It’s that moment of clarity, of self-discovery, that provides an insight into a side of yourself you may not have even been aware of—or acknowledged. You can’t reach this milestone without digging deep into your past and the events that have molded you into the person you are today.
To use my own experience as an example, I was diagnosed with depression years ago, but for a long time, I refused to accept the diagnosis. When I finally acknowledged that I was suffering—and that I needed medication—it transformed my view of the world. Even though I still had to deal with the same challenges in my life, it was as if someone had turned a light on and I could see my surroundings for the first time.
Match your behavior to your desires. It’s simple, really. If you want your life to go a certain way, and it’s not, then something has to change. That something either has to be your own behavior, or you’ve got to change the end goal. If your behavior doesn’t align with your desires, you need to recognize why that is and change the part of the equation that’s holding you back from moving forward. In essence, if you can’t alter your behavior, you’ll have to find something else to do.
Our real estate brokerage has nearly 40 offices with more than 1,000 sales executives across the country. Every single one of those sales executives knows exactly how to sell more houses: prospect, go on appointments and follow up. Yet there’s something that often prevents them from achieving: they don’t consistently do what they know needs to be done every day. They’re not changing their behavior to match their desire for success. What stops them from following through? Often it’s the internal roadblocks they carry around with them. And overcoming those requires some serious—you guessed it—self-reflection.
Know that it will be hard. Change rarely comes easily or quickly. We have to work at it consistently and diligently. But we are all capable of dramatic change, and the longer you can maintain peace, the more likely it is that you can continue your behavior. There may be setbacks, but you can’t allow that to kill your motivation. Change is a process that we must work toward every day.
For more advice on how to make positive changes in your life, check out my book, The Reward of Knowing.