Make Changes For a Change!
Change is an inevitable part of life. And, for the first 16 or so years of a human’s life change tends to happen TO us, whether this is nature changing us from babies to teenagers or parents dictating where we live, what we eat, and how we spend our time. So, one of the biggest challenges of growing up and becoming an adult is both managing the changes that happen to us and actually instigating the changes that we want in our lives.
As children, we are constantly changing as we grow and it is completely out of our control. What we eat also changes and is in the main out of our control. Similarly, we change school, our parents move house, we may get siblings, and none of these changes are within our control. An important part of growing up is firstly, learning how to cope with changes without getting anxious, and then learning how to make choices for ourselves. As children, the choices that we are allowed to make are inevitably not life-changing, but more along the lines of what you prefer for tea or choosing a new paint colour for your bedroom wall.
Making good choices is an important part of the learning process in learning how to make changes in your life.
These years are traumatic because we change from children to adults, and this huge change is controlled by nature and totally out of our control. Our bodies change to the extent that we no longer recognise ourselves. I suspect that anorexia is one way in which anxious teenagers try to stop these changes and regain control of their bodies. There is a huge responsibility on both the education system and our parents to guide us how best to deal with these drastic, inevitable changes.
Fast forward to adulthood and until the ageing process or ill health really take a grip, changes only happen if we instigate them. We choose where we live, who we share our life with, where we work, what job we do, what we spend our money on, what we eat and how we spend our free time. At that point we risk being totally overwhelmed by the choices facing us, and we risk letting anxiety prevent us from making changes. Previous generations didn’t have these choices. There was an inevitability about following your father down the local coalmine, and spending your life living in the same street as most of your family. People just earned enough money to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. Change was to be avoided and choices were few. And I fully appreciate that in many parts of the world this is still the case.
So, being faced by a multitude of choices on a daily basis and having the capacity to make far-reaching changes at many stages in our own lives are very recent phenomena.
The Process of Change
The starting point of making changes is obviously identifying the changes you wish to make. And to do this, it is best to focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want, and to express any changes in positive terms, rather than negative ones. In fact it isn’t just best, it is critical to the success of making rewarding changes in your life. You need to express changes in a positive & specific way so that you can envisage the outcome. For example ‘I need to quit this terrible job’ is a relatively easy change to make. You simply have to write your letter of resignation! But, will that make you happy? Probably not, because you’ll be broke! You need to invest some time ascertaining what sort of job or self-employment you want to replace it with, so that there is a positive outcome, and so that the change you wish to make becomes ‘Get myself a financially rewarding and professionally fulfilling job, relatively near to my home, within the next 3 months’. In this scenario you can now identify the steps you need to take and a timeline of events. You will also be able to mentally rehearse what your life will be like when you have made this change. You will also be able to take complete responsibility for making the change.
One thing that is NOT a pre-requisite to making changes, is developing a deep understanding of why you think and feel that you need to make changes. Instead focus on the outcome in your mind, until thinking about the outcome makes you want it so badly, that you are in no doubt that it is the right thing.
You must take responsibility for change. Don’t let it just happen. Adults don’t do that!
To make changes in your physical circumstances requires a change in your state of mind first. In the example above, you may first need to convince yourself that you have the skills, experience and confidence to take on a new challenge. Self-confidence is very important. To quote Henry Ford ‘Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are right.’ Also, our perceptions change the world around us.
It is important to only make changes that are in keeping with your core values and that help you move towards your big dream. If you don’t know what your core values are, then identifying them is your first step in the change process. And if you don’t have a big dream, identifying what that is, is your second step. As Paul McKenna says, ‘When you pursue your goals guided by your values in the context of your dream, miracles happen!’ Or if not miracles, at least positive changes happen more easily!
As a reality check for the changes you are planning, ask yourself 2 things:
- What is the worst thing that could happen if you make these changes?
- If someone offered you £1million to make the changes, what would you do differently?
Change and risk go together. If you don’t take risks, you won’t change things. But if you aren’t proactive, there is a huge risk that others will enforce change upon you, and then those changes will be beyond your control. Before you plan changes, it is worth assessing the risks. But, you also need to assess the risks of not making changes. That carries risks too!
Do NOT try and change other people! It is a thankless task. Like so many other things, focus on what you can change, not what you can’t. So, change how you feel about the other person and how you react to them. That will produce a positive outcome.
Be prepared for the impact that any changes you make, has on other people. Others may not like you being more confident, getting a better job or losing weight. Is that a risk you are prepared to take?
Just Do It
Some changes are relatively simple and quick to make e.g. get up at 6am every day instead of 7am. However most require planning, hard work, persistence and dedication. Think of changes that you have successfully made in the past, and reflect upon the state of mind you were in at that time. Stress may actually have been an important component! Stress can sometimes drive us to make changes, and provides us with the adrenaline to get going!
Use your Imagination
The more frequently and intensely you imagine your life after you have made changes, the more likely it is that the whole change process will be successful. In NLP terms this is because your subconscious mind will drive you on to take the right decisions and identify the right opportunities. Others consider this to be ‘the Law of Attraction’ whereby what you focus on most, is what you get more of in your life. To some this is the power of prayer. It doesn’t matter which of these you believe in. Quite simply, the more you believe that positive changes will happen in the future, and the more intensely you imagine your life after these changes, the greater the likelihood of them actually happening.
This article was written by Pamela Carvell, November 2018
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