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Walking into the gym this morning there was a sign stating:

4 Weeks You Will See A Change

8 Weeks Your Family Will See A Change

12 Weeks Others Will See A Change

Hang In There You Are Almost There!

While running on the treadmill, I was contemplating this statement. It was either drawing from extensive research from well-educated physical trainers or a clever marketing scheme to keep me coming back. Certainly, if today were my first day at the gym, four weeks would seem like forever especially if I haven’t been to the gym in years (fortunately not the case).  In either case, I thought there was some merit to this proclamation and its application to many areas of our lives.

ropeWe have been told for years that starting a new habit takes two to three months before it becomes a habit.  Anytime we embark on a new behavior it is always reassuring when someone compliments us on a noticeable change or offers encouragement to continue pursuing your goal.  Although the sign was specifically referencing physical development, I thought how applicable it was to relationships.  For example, let us say you wanted to change the tense relationships at work, acquaintances, friends, spouse, or family. You cannot change other people and how they choose to behave.  But you can choose how you will behave.  You decide to make a concerted effort to smooth a current tense relationship with more grace and patience avoiding the comments that send the interaction into another tense scenario.  So on the first day of your resolution, you make a personal commitment driving to meet the individual how you will respond when an inevitable conflict develops.  To your relief that day nothing transpired that challenges your resolve and pleased with yourself as you drive away. Day One.

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As the gym sign states, it takes four weeks before you will see a change.  However, after a solid week of being gracious and patient, something happens, and you lose it.  You make the devastating comment that sends the conversation and situation where you had hope to avoid.  That’s okay.  The sign states it takes four weeks it didn’t say four weeks of perfection.

Don’t give up and throw out your resolution.  Come back and do what it takes to repair the relationship and start over. Even professional athletes have bad days or take time off to recover and prepare for their next workout. At the end of four weeks though few if any will make any comments about your amazing transformation in character and discipline. However, you will notice.  Your drives home will be satisfying as you think about comments or conversations that you re-directed that to your surprise lead to a positive outcome. You know you are changing and starting to feel good about it.  Just like going to the gym, after four weeks you look at yourself in the mirror and notice your body is starting to tone.  Nobody stops you on the street to compliment your physic but your making progress.

After eight weeks others will start to comment with, “lookin’ good” and offering encouragement to keep working out.  Remember the psychologists who say it takes 2 – 3 months for new behaviors to become a habit.

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Gyms encourage you to stay committed so you will experience physical progress at new levels.  The same is true with your new gracious and patient behavior.  The people in question may be the last to compliment you but rest assured they notice. Stay with it and don’t get discouraged with setbacks or mistakes.  They will become fewer and less dramatic.

After 12 weeks at the gym it is noticeable to anyone who knows you that you have lost weight, look more athletic, and have more energy (you, of course, noticed months ago).  Same will be the regular compliments of your behavior and even possibly from those you formerly couldn’t engage without some degree of tension.  They may not change and even if the relationship doesn’t develop any further than a more amicable interaction, you will have learned more about yourself and your abilities to develop positive character than you thought.

With all new resolutions or behavior, the first day is always the hardest.  However, with each day passing one experiences some level of satisfaction in at least knowing you are several days into the new goal.  It will get easier, and you can succeed.

In the Financial Time Traveler studio, we enjoy the opportunity to discuss building wealth.  However, wealth without happiness and friends and family to share it with is a waste. People we enjoy are not the ones that challenge our resolve of grace and patience.  Jerks in our life are like weights we add to build muscle.

More weight, more muscle. Smile when tension develops and think about the muscles you’re building.

Hang In There, You Are Almost There!

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