Some people thrive on change and seek to create changes regularly, whilst for others change can be something they’ll go to great lengths to avoid. Trouble is, though, not changing when you know you really need or want to can cause frustration, a sense of being stuck, or even worse the same poor or distressing outcomes over and over (and over…) Give this situation enough time and the helplessness and hopelessness kicks in and you start to believe that change isn’t possible for you.
I think it’s a very human thing to not make change until it is forced upon us – our literal back against the wall – but imagine if instead of believing that change is something that’s hard and painful, you could start to see it as something achievable, positive and liberating. That way you’ll be able to make changes more proactively and more often thereby reducing discomfort and maybe even pain. You’ll also be able to create a more powerful sense of direction, enabling you to create new opportunities and pursue more of what you want.
Wouldn’t it be great to realise that you don’t have to stay wedded to your pain, frustration and disappointment, that instead you can step away from it and towards something more positive?
People come to me for help to create change – usually in relation to their career. Some have already tried to make change themselves and on some level they might have already had some success with this, which is awesome. Others feel completely stuck: On the one hand they’re itching to move forward, yet on the other they’re hesitant to take steps in a new direction because they’re unsure how to proceed and maybe even afraid to create yet more pain.
I want to reassure you that creating change is possible and it may be easier than you think.
Here’s how I suggest making the change process as smooth as possible.
Make a decision
When flirting with the idea of creating change, it’s easy to let indecision, lack of clarity about the detail, doubt and fear throw up roadblocks. After all, you could say to yourself “If I had been able to create this change I would have done so already.” And, “oh well, it mustn’t be possible, I’d better give up then.” Having assisted many people through many different types of change, I disagree. Just because you haven’t been able to make the changes you want yet doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, it’s simply that what you’ve tried so far hasn’t worked. There will ALWAYS be other options to try.
A necessary precursor to creating change begins with the conscious and committed decision that you WILL do it. Not that you really should do it or have to do it, you actually WILL do it. When you’ve finally decided that you’ve had enough of a given situation there is immense power in deciding “enough already, now I WILL make change.”
Do what it takes
Once you make the decision that you WILL be making change, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do what it takes, ‘cos it’s unlikely to happen on its own. People I work with often come to me seeking the one silver bullet that will change everything. They’re inevitably crestfallen when I tell them that like the unicorn, this doesn’t exist.
Usually creating positive change is a matter of utilising multiple levers and approaches and we have no idea what’s going to work until we get in there and try it. There’s no need to put off making change until “I’m feeling ready” or “I have enough time/headspace/money/the kids have left home/my husband is supportive/insert your convenient excuse here.” Those ducks are unlikely ever to be in a row. Instead, you can start right here, right now. Get reading, listening and watching. There is an abundance of free material online and in the library and who knows what will resonate with you. It’s amazing how just what you’re looking for has a tendency to show up when you need it once you go looking for it and commit to finding it. Many, many of my clients have shared cool stories about this happening to them, and I’ve lost count of the number of times it’s happened to me.
You can start by going back through all the blog posts I’ve written – there are loads of change-making ideas on there. Just start anywhere, apply what you learn (by that I mean actually try what I suggest for yourself in your own situation) and see what lands for you. Some of it will and some of it won’t.
Make it manageable
Tony Robbins urges us to make massive change if we’re not happy with our situation. Dare I say it, but I disagree with this approach. After all, if you were learning to dive, would you walk straight up to the highest diving board and take that leap? Didn’t think so. I wouldn’t and nor would most people. Contemplating a radical fear-inducing change is enough to paralyse the most courageous among us into inaction. As we attempt to psych ourselves up our unconscious mind will find all manner of ways to convince us that it’s impossible or too risky to even try, so we stay stuck, rooted to the spot, unable to take any action whatsoever. The longer we stay here, the less likely it is that we’ll do anything because the voices of doom, fear and doubt will start convincing us that we can’t take that leap. That’s why I suggest small, manageable and consistent steps as the more effective route to change. That way we’ll have regular small “wins” that boost us and spur us on to keep going in the direction we are aiming, thereby continually walking towards the changes we are determined to create.
Get real about what you can and can’t influence
Sorry, but I won’t soften this message, so if you’re easily offended you might like to stop reading right here.
There’s so much energy expended by so many people so often on things they have no influence or control over.
And while you’re wasting time doing that, you’re not putting your energy where it might actually be effective for you. All you can genuinely control or influence is your own thoughts, feelings, behaviours, actions and decisions so put your focus here rather than wasting your time and energy trying to control the uncontrollable. When you’re trying to create change, consider what you can (and will) do rather than wishing, waiting and hoping for the uncontrollable to conspire for your success.