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Making Change

When was the last time you paid for something in a store with cash, and the clerk not only gave you your change, but also counted it out for you?

Let’s say you paid $10.00 for a package of pens that was $8.73. The clerk gave you 2 pennies, a quarter, and a dollar bill while he or she said “74, 75, 9 and 10.” When I was a kid, I had to learn how to count back the change. I worked in a small, privately owned clothing store and I had to know how to count back change. Do people learn that anymore?

My guess is, not only has it been a long time since you actually paid in cash, but it's been even longer since someone counted your change back to you.

The Exchange

In the package of pens example, we’re exchanging money for an item (likely something of value), and depending on the currency used, we might get some actual change back (and in this day, we might drop the change in the tip bucket or ask the clerk/server to keep the change).

Let’s say you want to make a change in your life. You've built some habits or achieved a career goal, but you're not settled. You know there's more. You know you could do better. You want to exchange those experiences for something else, and ideally get some “change” back. Valuable change that will open more doors. How do you do it?

Start Right

1. Pinpoint What and Why

Getting clear on what you are changing and why not only gives you a target to shoot at, but it also provides the motivation and the grit for when it gets tough. In other words, if you are not clear on what you are changing and why, how will you be successful making the change?

Recently, I decided to change how I block my time. I had a particular habit I wanted to change, checking my email throughout the day. I’ve realized that checking email throughout the day distracts me from the more important projects that require my full attention. When I tweaked my time blocks, I intentionally strategized limited times for email. Then, as my days went along, when I was tempted to check email, I had to remind myself why I wasn't checking email - I was intentionally choosing to spend my time on something more profitable - learning a new skill, researching for a blog, refining my business strategy.

What do you want to change?

Why do you want to change it?

Expert Tip: Don’t just think about the last two questions, actually write (or type) out the answers. That’s when the clarity comes.

2. When...

is as Important as What

How many times have you decided to make a change only to find yourself doing it the old way a week later? As you already know, stating that we are making a change isn’t enough. Deciding when to make the change is a key aspect of starting at the “right place.”

I launched my time block change during a week that had all kinds of anomalies. I was able to keep some of the blocks, but largely I had to do a “do over” the next week.

Once you know what change you want to make, think about the best time to make it. Do you have the mental, physical, and emotional energy to make this change this now? If you don’t, when will you? Or how can you create that bandwidth?

3. Know Yourself

Like it or not, we're all wired with different tendencies towards change. My guess is that you know if change comes easy or hard for you.

Research shows that people who enjoy change generally have a broad range of interests, thrive on coming up with new and creative solutions, and as you would think, are less stressed by change.

Here’s where they can get into trouble: creating too much change. Dr. David Olson* writes, “they may appear to be overly interested in new ideas and adventures, forgetting more practical realities.”

Is that you?

People who find change to be difficult are generally more down to earth, practical, and less interested in new ideas and experiences. They prefer what’s familiar. Their challenge is being open to, and then working through change.


If your personality tends to avoid change, reframing change can help.

Think of the change as an invitation. An opportunity you don’t want to miss out on.

Remind yourself that “Change enables you to become the person you want to be.” Grant Pettersson

What would you like to “exchange” in your life? Want some more help figuring it out? Check out my blog Tell-tale Signs of Change.

Then, do it in a way that you get some "change" back. Set yourself up for success:

· pinpoint what you want to change and why,

· make sure you have the bandwidth to put effort into the change and,

· know and manage your tendency towards change.

*Olson, David H.; Olson-Sigg, Amy; Larson, Peter J.; The Couple Checkup, Thomas Nelson, 2008.

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