Change is a process. It begins with an awareness of dissatisfaction, of something being less than fulfilling. Then follows a decision to find a different way of being and doing. Linking in to your emotions and passion, to the strong solid reasons for change, and focusing on the benefits it will bring about helps to motivate and guide you through the unfolding journey.
The clearer you are about the outcome you want, the more you can imagine yourself already experiencing it and living it, the easier it will be to put it into place. Knowing what you want out of life helps you take control and make plans to help you achieve your dreams and move on to be and do what is best for you in your life.
Times of change can give you the opportunity to step back and get to know yourself better. It can be helpful to identify your values and learn more about what is important to you. Acknowledging your strengths also reminds you of the personal resources you have to draw on to sustain you and see you through difficult and unsettling times.
As well as opening up possibilities for personal growth and positive transformation in your life, trying to change your beliefs, thoughts or actions can bring up all sorts of feelings and fears. Your attitude to change and your approach to it will help to determine the outcome.
The way things are now is familiar to you. Your brain is wired so that it wants you to keep things the same and have you stay within your comfort zone. You can feel overwhelmed by the enormity of change: it can all just seem too much to take in.
You may not like how things are now and you might want them to change, but it can still be confusing and difficult to move forward at times. You will probably experience a mix of emotions - some will be energising and keep you moving forward and others will seem to keep you stuck where you are.
Understanding that these emotions are normal is a good starting point. None of the feelings are ‘wrong’, but not all of them are helpful. You don’t have to fight your feelings, but you can question whether they are useful, and put them aside, or try something different to help motivate you towards the changes you seek.
It is natural to feel a sense of loss during a time of change. Even if the change is a positive one you are leaving behind not only the way things are now but also the way you thought they would be. Instead of staying stuck in the negative fears and emotions you can start focusing on what you hope to achieve and build a clear picture of how you want your life to be. That will give you more energy and more motivation to make changes or try new things.
Our minds can only hold one thought at a time, so if you can replace your negative thoughts with images of success then you can get yourself unstuck. If you stay focused on your worries and fear then that is all you will see. Limit the time you spend worrying. Identify your worries and see if there is anything positive you can do about them. If there is something you can do then take the action required; if not move on for now.
Change can be overwhelming. Don’t try to tackle it all at once. Instead, try to focus on one small step at a time. Keeping to your routines will help you experience more of a sense of security as you take the small steps that will lead you forward to what you want to ultimately achieve. Practicing new thoughts and behaviours helps you to build them into your life. The more you succeed in the small steps, the easier it becomes to choose those new thoughts and behaviours. Each small step gets you closer to where you want to be.
Don’t be worried if it isn’t all plain sailing. Many people go forward for a while and then seem to go back a little bit or get stuck where they are. The trick is not to stay stuck. If something isn’t working for you, try something else. The more you can focus on the positive outcomes you are seeking, the more you will build connections in your brain that will be positive and build the resilience and commitment you need to try a different way and find out what really does work for you.
Change takes time, it takes patience, and it takes repetition. Be gentle on yourself - small steps will get you to where you want to be. Building a strong sense of self will help sustain you through this time. Remind yourself of the wonderful person you are and remind yourself that you deserve the best. Also be assured that you have what it takes to achieve your dreams.
It takes 21 to 30 days to form a new habit. After that time it becomes a natural way to think or behave and you don’t even need to consciously try any more. The trick is to get through those first 3 or 4 weeks!
If you join the gym and immediately throw yourself into a full-out extra-high cardio workout followed by a circuit and free weights you are likely to be sore from head to foot the next day and most probably you won’t go back. But if you start small then you will build the strength and stamina you need to go further next time and eventually you will achieve your fitness goals.
In the same way, personal growth comes a little at a time. Celebrate each little achievement that you make. Congratulate yourself for every success you experience. Remind yourself of your own worth and ability every step along the way. Small steps will lead to positive change and personal growth that lasts.
© Copyright: Marian Kerr, Contemplate Life Coaching, 2009. All Rights Reserved