The Formula For Change

Welcome to Format Free Fridays at, the one day a week when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life:  Unsolicited Advice.

I’ve spent my entire life studying the concept of change in one way or another.  Even as a kid, I was fascinated by the acquisition of certain traits that appeared to be hereditary but that I suspected could be acquired with the right skills:  Beauty, confidence, the *it* factor…   The concept of popularity kept me awake at night for most of 7th grade.  I wondered why some kids seemed to have an entourage at all times and others seemed to lose friends every two months.

As I matured, not surprisingly, my interest in what I wanted to change continued to uh, change.  I was never much of a student in high school so when I got to college, one of the first things I changed was how I spent my time, which now needed to include a ton of time for studying.

After graduate school I became fairly obsessed with my career and with establishing myself as a professional.  The transition from living the relatively carefree lifestyle of a grad student to having a mortgage and a ‘grownup job’ involved tremendous change.  Again, I found myself looking around and noticing how some 20-somethings seemed to naturally have it figured out while others couldn’t even make it to work on time.

In the last 5 years, I began focusing on the science behind change.  I was convinced, though I’d never seen any proof, that the process of change had to have common denominators, regardless of what type of change one was trying to create.  I won’t bore you with the details of how far and wide I searched for an answer, but eventually I did come up with something, and here it is:


No matter what we’re trying to change, there’s someone out in the world who possesses the attributes of the change that we desire.  Find that person, but not just anyone who walks the walk. Find the absolute best at whatever it is you desire to have.  Then study that person.  Watch everything she or he does.  Then do it.

It seemed like a very arduous process for such a simple conclusion.  The irony is that I’d actually figured this out in 7th grade, as I was flipping through the yearbook during a sleepless night, trying to determine who the most popular girl in middle school was.