Last time we spoke about how to get started with making change.
In a nutshell, here’s what I mentioned:
- Make a decision – once you’ve decided you’d like to create change, make a firm decision that it’s something you WILL do.
- Do what it takes – ain’t nothing going to happen if you sit back wishing, waiting and hoping for change. That’s not how the world works. You’re the one that has to take the action.
- Make it manageable – as with so many things in life, it’s the manageable, consistent actions that create results not the occasional giant leap (which you’re unlikely to have the courage or motivation to take in the first place).
- Get real about what you can and can’t influence – as tough as this message may be, you need to get a clear picture of what you are able to influence and place your energy and effort there rather than wasting your time trying to control the uncontrollable.
For more detail check out my last blog
If you’re serious about your commitment to change, then this is a good start, but it’s unlikely to be enough to get you there, because your thoughts and behaviours are probably going to throw up roadblocks. That’s just the way we human beings are. If we can understand these barriers to change and find ways through them, our chances of succeeding become far greater.
Here are a few ideas:
Change your focus
As hardwired as you believe you are to keep looking back over your shoulder at the wrongs that have been done to you, the things you’ve suffered, your “failures” and the abortive attempts you’ve made to change before, stop doing it. It’s not only going to get you nowhere, it will also make you feel worse. Trapped in a cycle of feeling hopeless, helpless and despondent. Like a scab you keep picking, it’s never going to heal if you keep picking at it. If, however, you’ve suffered serious trauma, I encourage you to find some help to deal with it, it’s not something most of us can heal on our own.
However, assuming your challenges have been less serious, and the changes you want to make less radical, then having decided that you WILL make change, face in the opposite direction and put your energy and focus there, building up a picture of the changes you will make, the actions you are currently taking towards that and those you will take into the future. What is the direction you want to head in? What’s a small step you can take to start that journey? Yes the internal voices of doom might ring in your ears. Ignore them. They’re neither real nor helpful. If it’s hard to tune them out, tell them you aren’t listening and start talking to yourself more kindly, as a good friend would. Be your own supporter in your change.
Hold yourself accountable for the actions you do (and don’t) take
Owning your actions (and lack of actions) can be a very powerful tool in assisting you to make positive change, however if this is something you haven’t done before, you might find it a challenge to start getting in the habit. If you struggle to do this for yourself enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member to get you on your way. Maybe there’s something they want to do differently, so you can be each other’s “accountability buddies.”
Accountability is one of the things my clients value so much about coaching. They know that when we get together for their next session I’ll be asking them what actions they’ve taken since we last met and we’ll also talk about what changes they’re noticing are happening as a result of their action. Just knowing this is coming is motivation enough to get them moving until it’s something they can (and want to) do for themselves.
Once you realise and own “if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me” (and the converse of this: “if I don’t do anything about it, then who will?”) you are holding yourself to account. Imagine what could be possible for you now!
The thinking that got you here won’t get you there
Let’s let that sink in for a minute.
What I mean by that is that your thinking, which has led to your actions has got you to where you are now. I’ve said before that if you want to experience something new and different you’re going to need to do something new and different and the easiest and most effective way to do this is to get your thinking processes “onside.” If you want to create change, aligning your thinking with your actions and behaviours is going to be the most effective and least painful way to do it. It’s only in identifying, understanding and perhaps changing the thoughts underpinning our actions that we can more easily create change, otherwise it’s going to feel like hard work – it may not even be possible.
Most of what we think and do (and therefore experience) is guided by the unconscious part of our mind. Our beliefs (what we think is true) our values (what’s important to us) and other habits of thought driving our decisions and actions are things we’re usually unaware of; they’re unconscious. Because of this, changing the way we think is something that’s really difficult for us to do on our own. This is where coaching can be immensely powerful. A genuinely effective coach helps you create change by assisting you to change the way you think, not just by giving you new actions and strategies to take.
Play the long game
Not always but usually, if you’re wanting to make bigger and more sweeping changes, you’re going to have to develop the patience to be in it for the longer haul. This is the very opposite of instant gratification, which is why most people don’t want to go there. Making change can be slow, clunky and imperfect as we feel our way and we have to give ourselves permission to stumble around until we hit upon what we need and take the appropriate action. Sometimes this takes a while and requires trial and error. If you’re serious about creating lasting positive change, then a willingness to play the long game will be essential.
If you’ve been struggling to make change, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org