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Whenever someone says or thinks they need to change, they do some typical change-type things. They get out of a bad relationship. They cut off toxic friends and start looking for new ones. They dump their car or get a new apartment. They change their wardrobe.

People do everything they can to change their surroundings, banking on the idea that different scenery will make them different people. A quick consultation with a go-to feng shui expert and a brand-new wardrobe later, people truly believe that they have changed because they filled their lives with new stuff. After all, “the clothes make the man”…right?

This urge to change is rarely a spur-of-the-moment decision; it happens over a period of time after a series of experiences that force us to re-evaluate our lives and ourselves. Eventually, we want to change because we think this change will make us a better person. Or it will protect us from getting hurt. Or from coming off a certain way. We feel the need change because something’s going on internally that isn’t fulfilling us.

When those unpleasant feelings turn into persistent urges, why do we go for the outside more than the inside? We change externally hoping that it makes a difference for us internally. We’re banking our internal happiness or our security or our safety on external things.

See the problem here?

As we’re all very aware, December is a month of great reflection; and for many of us it’s a primer for great change in the form of a New Years’ resolutions. And they overwhelm us! Advertisers jump on the resolution train offering big discounts to those looking to lose weight, hit the gym, save more money, or get a new look.

And a lot of us get in on the action. We set big goals and we drop serious cash (for the sake of personal development) to position ourselves to achieve them. Then we work really hard at them for a few weeks or months. Eventually, though, we become discouraged at the progress we’ve made, and then we move on to other things. And we leave those big New Years’ resolutions in the rearview mirror.

I talk a lot about you figuring out what’s in your heart space and getting to know your true authentic self. As a financial planner, I of course want you to save money and live a life that’s within your means financially. As an author, I want you to understand why you spend the way you do. Once you figure that out, I want to help you rewire your thinking, get rid of those bad habits, and live the life of your dreams. And as a human being that has walked both of those paths, I can tell you that’s it’s possible to have the life you want. But it must start with internal change.

True, long-term change doesn’t happen when you buy an ab machine off of an infomercial to lose weight. It won’t happen when you fill your closet with new clothes. And it won’t be in the new apartment or new city you move to in search of it. Real change happens when you look within.

In 2012, focus on making yourself better from the inside, out. Seek out the most positive and supportive people you can. Surround yourself with people who radiate happiness. And find people that are truly successful – both personally and professionally – and don’t be afraid to ask them for advice. The more positive action steps you take this year, the better of a place you will find yourself in both now and for each New Year to come.

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