How many "should's" do you have in your life? You know what I'm talking about:

"I should increase my sales pipeline"
"I should hire / fire a specific person"
"I should grow / expand my business"
"I should have fewer items on my To Do list"

You know what you need to do, but inevitably we all fall back into our old habits. Why? Inevitably, it's our habits that keep us doing the same things over and over again; repeatable patterns that inhibit our growth. We know we both want and need to change, but struggle with creating lasting, habitual change. Instead, we typically end up rationalizing our inactions. Worse yet, we're not feeling all that great as we "should" all over ourselves.

This weekend I went to my second Tony Robbins Unleash the Power Within event in Chicago and continued my ongoing training with a number of my employees and partners. One of the items we went deep on was the 3 steps of creating lasting change (and why most of us don't do it, even though we know we should).

Step 1: Get Leverage. Why is this change a MUST? Perhaps the most important step here is understanding the reasons why you must change. From a behavior to an emotion to a belief, creating lasting change is about getting out of the "should" model which rarely delivers the results you want and instead deeply reflecting on why the change is a MUST.

For example, "I should increase my sales pipeline" is a weak statement with no pull towards making it happen. Instead, turn that into a much more empowering statement like, "I MUST drive more sales in the next 90 days in order to stabilize our growth, attract the best people in our business and accomplish our mission".

The leverage model goes further than a powerful statement and addresses the fact that:

These are your three beliefs for lasting change, and unless you have committed to these beliefs, then you will fall back into a "should" which floats vaguely somewhere on your non-committed To Do list. This is the point where most people struggle. The pressure of the day (especially other people's "more urgent" needs) usually wins out over all those "should"-based action items.

Step 2: Interrupt the Pattern. Even when you have decided on why change is a must, deciding is only half the battle. Words without action are meaningless. So why don't most people take consistent actions that are congruent with their beliefs? It comes down to our habits and our patterns. If you spend your day reading and responding to email, for example, how will you have the time to take massive action on more important matters? Or, if social media is your Achilles Heel, then how can you spend quality time doing what you are committed to when you are reading and responding to multiple social networks?
The solution is to interrupt the pattern deliberately and with purpose. This means you need to get (or create) a new model and do something immediately different to interrupt the pattern you are used to. Rather than reading email in the morning, for example, set 1 or 2 hours aside to tackle your MUST list. Then, once you have momentum, you can decide how much of your previous patterns you wish to embrace. Which brings us to the final step.

Step 3: Create a New Empowering Alternative Pattern. Change is always a matter of motivation and never about ability. We know what to do and, if we've taken the first two steps, we know why to do it and what has been stopping us in the past. This third step is about establishing a new pattern that allows you to incorporate your MUST list. Creating a new empowering alternative pattern is about getting deep on your outcomes -- what do you really want and why is it important to you?

If you want to live life on your terms and grow the business that you set out to achieve, then you must embrace the truth. Most people end up spending their day helping others solve their problems rather thank being focused on what's really important. Yes, as an entrepreneur, you must split your role between your strategy work, culture, organizational growth, deploying your resources and managing your bottom line profits. But if you spend your day without a focus on the outcomes you want to achieve, you will end up bouncing around between other people's priorities.

Instead, create a new empowering alternative pattern where you decide what hours you will focus on your MUST list, which hours you will be available to your team, and which hours you will support the needs of your clients / customers. Your new alternative pattern must give you momentum -- forward motion with energy behind it.

And, as you well know, if your new pattern isn't giving you the leverage you need, then tweak it until it's right for you. Lasting change is about neuro-associative conditioning. When you break your old patterns, focus deeply on what you want and create new patterns that deliver what you really want, then you will condition your brain that the new way is better and you'll never want to fall back into your old habits. That is when you have truly created lasting change.

Thank you, Tony Robbins, I'm really enjoying my Ph.D in results! These seemingly small shifts are what makes the difference between your company being good, great or outstanding. I'm committed to building an outstanding company. I encourage you to do the same and enjoy the journey getting there.