Each year as spring approaches, I gear up for “spring cleaning.” In addition to physically cleaning my house and office, I also think about cleaning up my actions and behaviors. To help get you started on developing new good habits on etiquette today so by summer you will have changed how you do things and act toward others forever, here are a few tips to follow:
“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your DESTINY.”
1. Start today. Studies have shown that you must practice new skills for 21 days to develop a new pattern. It will take about 100 days for a new pattern to become an automatic habit.
2. Choose your changes. Pick two or three etiquette adjustments you want to master during this Spring Cleaning period. If you need ideas, review the past “Etiquette Tip of the Month” articles sent over these past two years or dedicate some time to read one of the hundreds of self-help, personal, or professional development books you’ve collected for years. Make a decision to change an action or behavior, establish a new way of performing a task, or complete something you’ve always meant to do but never quite put into practice.
3. Make a list. Writing down your Spring Cleaning goals will reinforce your decision. Find creative ways to remind yourself of what you’ve pledged to work on for the next three months: Keep the list visible on your desk, on the refrigerator, or on your bulletin board as a constant guide. Write your goals on sticky notes and place the notes on your April and May calendars. Code your computer calendar to remind you of your Spring Cleaning commitments on various days for the next 12 weeks.
4. Do it. Once you’ve identified your Spring Cleaning goals, put new skills into action immediately in order to better your chances of making a permanent change in your behavior. Studies indicate that 66% of a message is forgotten in 24 hours and that it takes 8 days of constant reminding for 99% of a message to be retained in 30 days
5. Think positively. It is easy to slip away from new habits. As Sir Walter Scott said so accurately, “Success or failure is caused more by mental attitude than by mental capacity.” So, please consider this:
“Change your attitude!
When you change your attitude, You change your behavior
When you change your behavior, You change your performance
When you change your performance, You change your life!”
—By Walter Doyle Staples in Performance: Your Guide to Personal & Professional Excellence
6. Make a new model. We all need to eliminate trash lying around. Whether your goal is better managing physical paperwork or wiping out mental “head trash,” Spring Cleaning will clear a path to success. Every etiquette adjustment you make will have a positive impact on your life.
The art of changing yourself requires the substituting of new habits for old. You mold your character and your future by your thoughts and acts. You cannot climb uphill by thinking downhill thoughts. You must change your mind to change your world. Make yourself do what needs to be done. Man alone, of all the creatures of the earth, is the architect of his destiny.
—By Wilferd A. Peterson in The Art of Living
Question: What other items do you have to add to this list? Do let us hear from you in the area below. You may also reach us at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com. If you enjoyed this article and want more, subscribe to our “Etiquette Tip of the Month” newsletter—at no charge—filled with great monthly tips on all sorts of topics from international business and social etiquette and protocol to everyday life subjects. It will be great to have you as a member of our happy family of subscribers at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/subscribe.
Happy Spring Cleaning!