I read once that all it takes is one person – one person to believe in you and it can make the difference between becoming a heroin addict on the street vs. becoming a happy, successful person. I agree, but seriously? It takes way more to make real, lasting change in your life. I have always embraced change because I know that while it is tough, good things happen on the other side. It’s the only way to move forward! That’s why change management is one of the best parts of my work. I get to listen to people share their concerns and help them get to the other side. It’s very satisfying to see people get there and know that I played a small part in that journey.
There are a few things I’ve learned along the way that you might find useful. Now, bear in mind, I am not a counselor. I am not a psychologist. I am just a person like you who’s had to navigate my share of change. Here’s what helped me and I hope it helps you too:
1. Hold the intention. Whether your goal is to lose weight, advance in your career, get back to your creative work, or anything else, you must hold the intention to focus on that goal. Block time out on your calendar each week that is dedicated to achieving your goal and plan for that time. Set out your workout clothes the night before your workout. Cook your healthy food for the week every Sunday. Get your creative space ready with all the materials you need the day before. Think about your dedicated time and plan for it. Hold the intention to do the thing that you want to do. The thing that you think you cannot do, to paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt. You not only can do it. You will. Your stuff is already out and ready, after all. 🙂 I used this technique to lose 40 pounds and keep it off for 2.5 years. I’m nothing special – if I can do it, you can too!
2. Use the Power of 3. In fiction, everything happens in threes. Three wishes. Three encounters. Three challenges. Keep your approach simple, high level and easy to remember. Three goals, three steps, three rules, whatever you decide – make it so simple that you can deliver it like a 30-second elevator pitch to anyone, anywhere. For example, I have three simple rules for the way I eat: No sugar. No processed food. No white carbs. It’s easy to remember, easy to follow, and I follow the 80/20 rule – 80% of the time, I eat by the rules. The other 20%? I eat what I want – especially pizza and french fries! Most of the time, I don’t want the crap I would have craved normally and it works well. I don’t want to ruin the 80% momentum I’ve built up.
3. Build your “Go You!” Team. So it’s hard to change, right? That’s why you need to surround yourself with supportive, positive people who can help you get there when you lose sight of your path. Your team can consist of positive friends, other creative people, therapists, attorney, accountant, family, colleagues, groups – whatever works for you. As long as you have someone to back you up, support your efforts, and compel you forward especially in those weak moments. The only people on your team should be those who lift you up and make you feel energized.
4. Face your worst fears. What is the worst thing that could happen if things change? Write it down. Think about it. Is it really as bad as you think? Now – what is the best thing that could happen if things change? Write that down too. Now think about how great things could be if you could get to the best thing. Visualize your new life, the new you, the new change – right down to what shoes you’d be wearing in your new life. When you see it, it is easier to get there. Your brain needs a visual cue. I will tell you that it is not easy to make any change. Losing weight, for example, won’t fix everything that is wrong in your life. Becoming debt-free is great, but if you don’t know how you got in debt in the first place, you’ll end up right back where you started a few month later. Which leads me to number five…
5. Ask why. Why do you want to change? Why do you want to write/paint/create more? Why do you want to lose 10 pounds? Why do you want to go back to work? Why do you work too much? Often we avoid the things we can’t face with food, overwork, or excuses. Sometimes we’re just not ready to peel back the layers of the onion to uncover the real problem. But that’s the catalyst for change. Sometimes just asking why can get your started on the path to becoming strong enough to start peeling. I promise you – it is worth it. If you are like me and cry when you peel onions, brace yourself. You may need to cry. You may need to face things you really aren’t ready to face. But you are just asking a question. No harm there, right? It’s just a question. It may take you awhile to answer it. But by asking – you are starting the journey to changing things for the better. When you are ready, you will take the next step.
As one of my favorite poets Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.” 🙂
So what helped you make a change for the better?