I noticed I didn’t have a lot to say when I sat down to journal last week. That happened a few days in a row. So I tried taking my own advice and just started writing. “I don’t know what to write. My mind is sort of blank, I’m just writing, writing, writing. Keep doing what works. Just keep doing what works.” Wow! Where did that come from? Keep doing what works! That’s something I’m always promoting, so I continued to write. “Even if I’ve stopped doing it, if it works, go back to doing it. Keep doing what works.” Well, of course.

Then I was on such a roll, I kept writing. Eventually, I wrote, “Stop doing what doesn’t work.” That’s a tough one. Have you ever noticed how many things you do and continue to do, even though they don’t work? I was trying to think of a good example that everyone could identify with and came up with this one: I’ll put the money that is left over at the end of the month into my Emergency Fund. Isn’t that a joke? I never have anything left over at the end of the month. If I want to designate money for a contingency or for a vacation or for some other special cause, I have to take care of it at the beginning of the month before I start spending.

Anyway, I’m fairly sure you can see that to continue thinking “I will save what’s left at the end of the month” is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Someone said that such an idea is the definition of insanity. Who was that? If it’s true, probably we are all insane because it’s all too easy to be unaware that something hasn’t worked and just keep doing the same thing.

Here’s an example of something that does work. My mail. I have a practice of ”handle it once” (well, maybe it’s once and a half). As soon as the mail comes in the house, I sort it. I throw away the junk, which is 90% of snail mail these days. I put the bills in a specific place. Here’s the half: the next time I go to my computer I pay the bills and file them. Yup, I pay them the day they come in. The other stuff – things I really don’t know what to do with, I file in an A-Z flexible file. So when I get the water filter warranty, I file it. Of course, I do have the difficulty of knowing whether I filed it under W or F, but that’s fairly simple. That system works and if I stop doing it, I’ll find an overdue credit card bill in the middle of my catalogs. (Oh yeah, I have a place for the catalogs I keep, but many of them go into the recycling.) I hate finding an overdue bill and especially paying the late charge, so if I start allowing mail muddle, an errant bill reinforces my going back to what works!

Sorting the mail is dependent on me alone except, of course, for Jim’s dealing with his part of the mail. But what about events and processes with other participants, such as bed time for kids, or family reunions or business meetings or social programs? Those are much harder. The first step, though, is to recognize when something isn’t working. If every night you have a drama about brushing teeth and how many stories to read, and yet you approach bedtime the same way every night, it’s time to say, “This is insane—or at least ridiculous!” It’s time for a different plan. I wish there was a simple one, like sorting the mail, because I would be a rich woman from the Hale Foolproof Bedtime Process!

The point I’m hoping to emphasize is that continuing to do something that doesn’t work is crazy-making.

Are You Ready to Explore?

First, identify what isn’t working. Be honest about it. Come up with an alternative way to do or think about the process. Talk it over with friends, family, colleagues. Brainstorm about something new, and try it. Ask yourself the following questions:

* What results do I want?
* Who or what is involved?
* How can I/we do it differently?
* What are my options?
* What am I and the others involved willing to do?

Finally, lay out a plan, inform others, and give it a try!

Author's Bio: 

Jacquie Hale is a personal life coach who helps people discover what excites and fulfills them in life. She was trained at the Coaches Training Institute and is certified by the International Coach Federation. She was personally trained by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks to teach and coach their Conscious Living work. She has used Deliberate Attraction all of her life and conducts teleclasses and telesupport to provide tools that enable people to get what they really want in life. She helps people discover their Authentic Genius which helps them recognize choices that are on their life path. She works with couples and individuals on the phone and in person.

She has written three books:

Transformation: Coach Your Self to Wholeness

Coaching Skills for Body Workers: How to Enlist Your Clients in Their Own Health Process

Serenity is an Inside Job: How to Relieve Stress and Reclaim Your Life

Jacquie is one of the authors in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life