OTAT, One Thing at a Time

OTAT, what’s that?

OTAT (pronounced oh-tat) is a revolutionary new trend sweeping the country – well, at least this blog and the lives of its wonderful readers.  OTAT is for the brave and the bold – just like you – who have decided to live their lives changing one thing at a time, and are starting this new trend by selecting one thing and one thing only for their New Year’s Resolution.

Why focus on one and only one thing when there are so many things you want to change in 2011?  

Because selecting one and only one thing dramatically increases your odds of achieving it by providing less wiggle room and more accountability. 

So how do you choose one thing when you have at least 2, if not 200 things you want to change?

Well, here’s what to do – and, as I mentioned the other day, I can’t claim this wonderful approach, the idea is that of  life coach and author David Essel, who has been using it for years to help people change their lives.

Your One Thing

  • What you are looking for, is the one thing that when accomplished, will radically change your life.
  • Keyword – R  A D I C A L L Y    
  • Hint: The “one thing” is usually something you have denied or delayed working on in the past.

Still here? (Some people bail when faced with the fact that they need to work on something they have ignored in the past, but you didn’t, that’s great. I guarantee the rewards will be worth the effort.)

Here’s how.

Find some quiet time and a quiet place for yourself – you will need about 15 minutes. (Hard to do, yes I know, but please find a way; you are worth it.)

Bring two pieces of 8-1/2 x 11 pieces paper and a pen or pencil with you.  

Take a few deep breaths to clear your head and relax yourself a bit. (You know those deep in-through-the-nose, fill your-lungs-and-stomach kind of deep breaths.) 

Okay, good, now write a vertical list of the following bold words. The order is up to you, and please leave more space than I have between the items:

  • Financial (Income, expenses, etc.)
  • Career (Education, profession, job satisfaction, etc.)
  • Health (Exercise, smoking, eating well, etc.)
  • Relationship with others (Love, family time, forgiveness, new friends, etc.)
  • Relationship with self (Emotional leftovers, kindness, forgiveness, etc.)
  • Spiritual (However you perceive it.)

Now, do the next steps quickly and go with your first thought in each step.

  1. Read the list.
  2. Flip the paper over.
  3. Think about the words you just wrote, and select the first three topics from the list that come to mind.
  4. Flip the paper over and circle those three items.
  5. Flip the paper over again to the blank side, and write one of the items you just circled.
  6. That’s your one thing.
  7. Simple, yes. Scientific, maybe not. Honest, pretty much without a doubt.

Congratulations on picking your one thing.  Job well done!

So why did you pick that topic? 

I don’t know. You may know, or like many folks, you may be surprised [That’s the denial part, I can be big on that :-).] Either way, take a few minutes to jot down ideas and thoughts about this area of your life. Write anything that comes to mind under this topic. Do not censor your thoughts, write all of them – good, bad, ugly. Then answer these questions:

  1. Have you tried to accomplish change in this area of you life in the past, and if so, what did the process feel like to you?
  2. Did you experience any success, if so what? How did that feel?
  3. Write down any new thoughts these questions bring up for you. Use your second sheet of paper, if you need it.

Whatever you do, do not go back and pick another topic. (That’s the delaying part.) You picked this one thing  for a reason, and either you already know why addressing an issue related to this topic will radically change your life, or you will figure it out after writing and thinking about it. (That’s the brave and bold part.)

Please spend a few more minutes flushing-out your thoughts, and next Monday, and every Monday for the rest of this year, I will show you how to turn your one thing into your future.

In the meantime, Friday to be exact, I will tell you about a new television program that used a scientific approach to happiness to transform the lives of eight unhappy folks down-under and captured the attention of  hundred of thousands of Australians.

A trend to call your own

Friday we talked a bit about trends and how they have changed our lives. 

We started with historic trends, such as Industrial Revolution kind-of stuff,  and then worked our way into the consumer trend world – what’s hot and what’s not – and then made a quick stop at creating our own personal trend in 2011.

Here’s a brief review:

Human beings . . . deep needs . . . “unlockers” . . . trends . . . patterns . . . changes.

We left-off by asking:

  • What trends do we want to set for ourselves in 2011?
  • What would make 2011 one of our best years ever?
  • What deep needs, need to be met? 
  • How will we unlock them?

Getting started.

Change in any form can be daunting and all New Year’s Resolutions are about change in one form or another.  I believe looking at the process as more than just a list is a great way to get started, after all, this is our lives we are talking about.  

Here’s what  I suggest.

Begin by listing all the changes you want to see for yourself in 2011.

Here are some popular New Year’s resolutions (in no particular order), I am sure some of them will match yours:

  • Get in shape, exercise more, eat healthier.
  • Drink less, stop smoking.
  • Get a job, out of debt, or organized.
  • Save money, start a budget.
  • Find a job, man or woman.
  • Take or save for a vacation.
  • Spend more time with family and friends.
  • Enjoy life more, do less, be happier.

Good, do you have yours down on paper?  Okay, now this is where it gets a bit tougher.  

We all tend to have long lists of ways we want to improve our lives, but I honestly think the best way to improve our lives is to pick one thing, and one thing only to concentrate on. I believe picking the “one thing” that when accomplished will positively impact the most areas of our lives, and then figuring out – unlocking – how were are going to do that, is the way to go. 

This isn’t my big idea, I am stealing it, with permission from life coach and author David Essel.  In his book “Slow Down: The Fastest Way to Get Everything You Want”, David makes an excellent case for changing the way we look at change.

His bottom line is to pick one thing, and one thing only that when accomplished would “radically change” our lives. 

So, I am suggesting as a New Year trend we each pick one thing to work on in 2011. Just one.

We can call this trend something really creative such as: “One Thing at a Time” or “First Things First”.  We can create new abbreviations and acronyms – OTAT and FTF,  maybe even get an entry in the Urban Dictionary. (Just checked FTF means a few other things, one is quite descriptive, but not very good for our purposes, so I am now going with OTAT, which shall forever more be pronounced “oh-tat”. )

I know, OTAT flies in the face of the beloved American habit of multi-tasking and our belief that having it all, all the time is what we should be striving for. But, multitasking has recently been taken to task for not being as efficient an approach as once thought, and I truly believe that believing we can have it all – all the time – undermines our belief in ourselves, and is stressing the heck out of us.

If you need more specific proof that making long lists of resolutions doesn’t work – pull out your list from last year, that is if you can find it, and begin checking off what you have accomplished.  (For those of you who are now yelling – “Hey wait, I did everything on my list!” – Honest and sincere congratulations, you are truly an exception to the rule and should be very proud of your accomplishments. Perhaps the rest of you, might want to keep reading, I know I will.) 

So what do you think, are you ready to start a new trend in the New Year? To adopt an OTAT approach? To focus on one thing at a time as you work toward creating the life of your dreams?  If so, next post, I will show you an easy and painless way to pick your one thing – the one wonderful thing that addressing will make your life oh, so much better

Until then, review your list and remember this is about  human beings . . . deep needs . . . “unlockers” . . . trends . . . patterns . . . changes.  This will be big.  I promise.  This time next year, or way sooner, you will be patting yourself on the back for a job well down!

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