In my previous post, the focus was on the first step in changing your life, which is awareness. As you now know, you cannot change if you’re not aware. The post included a list of questions to help you identify where to start. If you haven’t read that yet, start there, before you move on toward this step. The second phase in changing your life might sound obvious, which is choosing to change.
In reality often people say they want to change but they never truly make an intentional decision to change. Is the fear and uncertainty of changing preventing you from making changes you know will benefit you? The secret to transformation is learning how to make yourself accountable to your own commitments.
It starts by taking small steps and keeping each commitment you say you're going to do (or not do). When you do, you'll gain confidence and gain momentum and start believing in your ability, which will impact how you feel about yourself. Your past failures don't matter, regardless of what your negative self-talk might want to say. The past does not equal the future. It's time to move forward by choosing to change!
Now that you’ve identified what you think needs to change, choose what you’re willing to change. Keep in mind, there’s a BIG difference between feeling like you “have to” change and “choosing to” change.
We can often feel we have to change to please someone else. In truth, you don’t have to do anything. Choosing to do something empowers you whereas having to do something enslaves you.
So, you’ve committed to changing, now it’s time to get started:
- To begin, pick one thing. Write down what change you are choosing to make.
- Now determine and write down how this change will benefit YOU.
- Also write down why these benefits are important and meaningful to YOU.
Next, it’s time to put emotion into action. You’ve just identified the emotional reason behind your decision; now identify what specific steps you’re going to take to change.
For example, let’s say that you identified that you want to improve your relationship with your spouse or kids. You decide that on Sunday you will review your schedules for the week and then put on your calendar the times you’ll spend with your spouse or kids.
The more specific you make your goal the better. So, you decide you want to spend 15 minutes of uninterrupted time, four times during the week, with each of your kids. On your schedule, that’s what you plan. And, you tell your kids when it’s going to be, so they can expect it and put in on their calendars, too. That’s it…you’ve just initiated the change.
Here are some reminders to help you work through the change process:
- No positive change happens without growth. And, no growth happens without change.
- In order to change, you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. No growth happens inside your comfort zone. You can do it...you've done it before.
- When the temptation comes or you get tired and the urge comes to skip the 'date,' review in your mind what you wrote down for the top three steps above...your 'why.'
- Do you struggle with control? You may have to relinquish the feeling of control in order to get what you really want. It may not be safe, but safe has kept you where you are.
- You want to be able to see yourself doing it. If you can't see yourself spending 15 minutes with each of the kids, how about 5 or 10 minutes? Then start there.
- Keep your focus on outcome you desire. As was mentioned, it'll be easy to come up with an excuse or reason to let the new behavior slide. That's why identifying and focusing on your 'why' is a critical step.
- Always keep a solutions-focused mindset versus a problem-focused mindset. Focusing on the problems keep you stuck in the past. Solutions-focused thinking allow you to move beyond your past or current circumstances and become creative in finding solutions.
- Find a coach or find a mutual accountability partner. Change can be difficult. Often a coach is the best way to help you see what you can't see, so you can become what you didn't think you could become. It's worth the investment.
If you’ve read this far, you must be interesting in changing something in your life that isn’t working. Or, you may have a sense that things can be better and that desire is what’s driving you.
Nevertheless, at this point, fear is often the biggest obstacle. And doubt is probably another stumbling block. That’s ok. Acknowledge the fear and doubt and be ‘ok’ with it. If you’re not sure how, try to think of a situation or an obstacle in the past that you’ve not been able to overcome. Since you’re still alive and reading this…THERE ISN’T ANY…is there.
In the next post, we’ll focus on the last step in changing behavior, which is creating a supportive environment.