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Success in 2023 by acting like a 3-year-old!

emotional wellbeing new year personal growth perspective Jan 01, 2023

For many people, the New Year is a time of looking forward and making a decision to change for the better. The fact is, though, that far more people end up staying stuck than succeeding at making permanent, positive change. is how to make 2023 the best year yet: act like a 3-year-old.

For any of you who are parents, or have been around a young child for any period of time, you know that change can be overwhelming for kids, especially if it is not something the child wants. And, the younger the child, the more likely that the change is going to be met with very clear and strong objection; my husband and I call it "acting like a loonball".

This is the manifestation of one of the most basic beliefs of childhood: "If I don't want to do it, I won't! And you can't make me!" Kids are very good at identifying what they do and do not want to do and will put a huge amount of energy into not doing what they don't want to do.

Why is this important? It's a big deal because the main reason that people fail at achieving their change goals is self-sabotage. We become our success's worst enemy when our goals are not what we truly want! For example, what happens when our goals are something like: eating better (veggies suck), getting more exercise (sweating sucks), or developing healthy relationships (people suck)? If your goal is not truly something that you want, your inner 3-year-old goes into high gear to figure out how to get out of it: self-sabotage.

So, the first part of success is choosing goals that you actually want to accomplish! Instead of resolving to stop procrastinating (one of my personal favorites), how about I resolve to do the (grown-up) things I like to do (making lists, sorting paperwork, checking emails, organizing closets, and networking and brainstorming), followed by the things I don't like to do so much (doing the tasks on the lists and in the paperwork and emails, putting away all the clutter, and marketing) while I'm on a productivity high. And pay someone to do everything else (my kid scrubs the toilet like a pro for a quarter!) I know from experience that if my mindset is that I need to stop procrastinating because I have SO MUCH TO DO, my motivation is shot from the beginning, and my piles of things that need to get done get bigger, and bigger, and bigger. However, if I bribe myself with something that I enjoy and ask for help with the things I don't, the end result is that stuff gets done. Watch the 3-year-olds in your life: those kids are masters at putting their energy into the things they want and getting others to help them with the things they don't.

Which leads me to the second part: what if you don't know what you want? Believe it or not, this is a huge factor in many people's lack of success in working toward positive change. We have spent years and decades trying to live up to other people's expectations that, sometimes, we don't even know what we want anymore. Our goals are so often about what we think we need to be or accomplish based on what our families, our bosses, and our culture ingrain in us. The result is that we live in a consistent state of dissatisfaction: unhappy when we don't succeed, but still unhappy when we do!

The way to combat this is to ask "Why?" A lot. Just like a 3-year-old. Basically, you keep asking yourself "why" until you get to where there are no more "why's" to answer. For example, I want to stop procrastinating:

  • Why? - So I can get everything on my to-do lists done.
  • Why? - So I can be successful.
  • Why? - Because when I am successful, others view me as valuable.
  • Why? - Because when others view me as valuable, they like me and think that I add to their lives.
  • Why? - Because, then, they will let me help them make their lives better, which is what I feel is my purpose on this planet.

Do you see the difference between the first and last answers? There are no motivating warm-fuzzies in that first answer, but there are some powerful, positive feelings in the last. Also, look at how the answers morph from general, external expectations to core, internal needs. The end result may be the same (I have stopped procrastinating), but it becomes something that I want to do.

So, I encourage you to tap into your inner child for this next year. Have a successful acting like a 3-year-old.

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