“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or step back into safety.” - Abraham Maslow
Change. Growth. Transformation. What do you think of when you hear these words? As someone who has reinvented herself, these words have defined the last decade of my life.
My life has been a series of changes especially since moving from Connecticut to San Diego eight years ago come Sunday. In fact, I’m still undergoing transformation. I only just recently entered the next phase in my journey by finding my voice in my blog and podcasts. So, it was no surprise to me when I was recently asked why it’s so hard for people to make a change and how does one make a change.
Any kind of change can be hard. And, change can be hard for anyone. But, I believe it’s hard for people to make a change because change requires self-reflection, self-awareness, and brutal honesty. Making changes first requires acknowledging or agreeing that a change is needed. But, you can’t possibly agree to make a change without first being made aware that there is a problem that warrants the change.
For many people, taking a hard look at themselves or their lives is extremely uncomfortable. Some people don’t want to see what’s wrong or what’s not working. For some, that is an ugly and unbearable process. Some people would rather keep their blinders on, remain oblivious, or just stay the same because they don’t want to do any work.
Change requires work. Staying the same is easier. It is the path of least resistance. Change is work, but it is also a reward.
“Change is painful, but nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.”- Mandy Hale
Self-reflection can also trigger feelings of not being good enough. Not feeling good enough just doesn't feel good. But, you don’t have to feel bad. That is a choice. Instead, think of change as a call to action to recognize you deserve more! In fact, it’s not that you are not good enough at all; it’s the opposite. You are good enough, but you actually deserve so much more than you might be allowing yourself. Do you see the difference?
You deserve peace, love, kindness, good health, happiness, and success! So, what would you be willing to change to achieve this? You can either keep going as you have been or you could do what’s necessary to fulfill your potential. If you are not completely content with who you are or what your life looks like, then be open to change. When you change how you see yourself or feel about yourself, your life will automatically change, too. In other words, changing what you see within you changes what you see around you. Therefore, change your thoughts and feelings, and you will change how you interact with the world.
When making changes in your life, consider these six steps:
1. Define. Define your ideal self and your ideal life. What do health, happiness, and success mean to you? When you close your eyes and dream, what do you see? Do you see a loving relationship, a big house, or a strong, lean body?
Only you can define for yourself what would make you feel happy, healthy, and successful. Think about how your life would be different if you felt different. How would your life look if you felt better about yourself? Don’t worry quite yet what it would take to feel better. Just first focus on the vision you hold in your head. Do you see yourself as having more energy, being more positive, confident, and stress-free? Are you active, outgoing, and social? Do you belong to a club or civic organization? Who would be in your life? Would you make new friends, date, or get married again? Would you get a new job or start a whole new career? Would you travel the world or take more vacations with your family? Where would you live? Would you have a big house in the country or would you look for a high-rise apartment in a city? Consider every detail because they all count in shaping the life you’re looking to create for yourself.
2. Assess. Self-reflection and self-awareness require an assessment. By assessment, I mean you need to evaluate your current state of being and living. It’s not a test. It’s not about being right or wrong or passing or failing. It’s merely a check-up on the quality of your life at this very moment. Do not judge yourself or feel bad about your current set of circumstances. Just be honest and realistic. Then, take a snapshot of what it is like now. At some point, you will want to look back to see how far you’ve come. You can’t see progress if you don’t have anything to measure against.
Looking in the mirror, what do you see? How would you describe yourself? Are you self-critical? Do you often put yourself down? Look at your life and do the same. How do you currently think or feel about yourself and your life? What kinds of thoughts run through your mind on a daily basis? Do they run more negative or positive? Are you more pessimistic or optimistic? Are you happy? How happy are you? Do you like your life and where it’s headed, or do you often daydream about a life you would have preferred?
What kinds of things do you hear yourself complaining about to others or saying out loud? Do you live in regret and hear words like “shoulda’s, coulda’s, or woulda’s” in your dialogue? If how you see, think, or feel about yourself does not support your highest good, consider a change. Negative self-talk, regrets, resentment, and dissatisfaction are all indicators or seeds of change. If you do not like what you think, feel, see, or hear in your assessment, consider making changes that would lead you to the results or outcomes you desire.
3. Identify. Identify what you want to change about yourself or your life. Identify how you want to think about yourself and your life. What would your ideal self or life look like? If you rubbed a magic lamp and a genie popped out to grant you three wishes you could use to change anything about yourself or your life, what would you ask for? Do you wish you had more energy, better health, a leaner body, a career you enjoyed, or a loving relationship? What changes would you want to make?
4. Commit. Change begins with making a commitment to becoming your best self and creating your best life. Once you’ve identified what you’d like to be different or change in your life, the only thing holding you back is you.
Courage and worthiness are essential elements to making a lasting commitment to change. Transformation is not for the weak. It is for the brave. So, have the courage to get out of your comfort zone. See yourself as a brave warrior willing to fight for your own health, happiness, and success as you have defined them for yourself.
In order to make any lasting changes in your life, you’d first have to believe that you deserved the life you pictured in your mind. This is the part many people miss. We all deserve peace, love, kindness, happiness, good health, and success, and that means you, too! But, if you don’t understand that you deserve to live your best life, there will be no willingness on your part to take the necessary action that would result in the changes you seek. If you need to give yourself permission, then give it! Once you accept that you deserve all the goodness life has to offer than all you need to do is commit to taking a chance. Take a chance on making a change that supports your goals and dreams.
5. Take Action. The ultimate step in making changes and getting the results you want is taking action. Action is the only thing that will ultimately bring the vision or the picture you have in your mind to live. Transforming your dreams into reality requires positive action. Positive actions are those actions that support your vision, goals, and dreams. Actions shape your life and define your destiny.
Change requires work on your part. Changes don’t just happen overnight. Be willing to invest in the time, effort, and energy it will take to get you there. Identify the key steps you need to take that will lead you in the direction of achieving your goals and dreams. If you don’t yet know what that looks like, that’s OK. Just take a step. In fact, take a leap of faith! Just go at a pace that works best for you at this moment in time. Your pace may change as you move forward in your journey to creating your best self and best life.
6. Practice Aloha. Change can be difficult and uncomfortable. The key to making any successful changes in your life is how you treat yourself in the process. Change requires patience and perseverance. So, practice more love, kindness, and compassion for yourself. They are the best tools to gently motivate you to keep going because they make you feel good in the process. Being too critical or putting too much pressure on yourself won’t feel good and may interfere with your progress. Therefore, they won’t ensure success. In fact, being too self-critical or putting too much pressure on yourself could hold you back, demotivate, and discourage you instead. So, think a little more kindness and a lot less judgment.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t worry about what other people are thinking or doing. Unless they are willing to encourage, support, or help you in your transformation, you don’t even have to involve anyone in your plans. Keep your circle positive to maintain positive thoughts and actions. In the meantime, focus on your own path.
Lastly, focus on progress over perfection. Take it one step at a time even if some steps go backward or sideways at times. Initially, any movement is good movement. Movement can positively impact your mindset because it makes you feel more in control of your destiny. It gets you started while you figure out the best paths to take in your transformation. It is all a learning process. Give yourself permission to learn what is working and not working in your process of change or transformation. This takes time.
Change is good. Something good always comes from change. And, you are capable of making changes. You can change as little or as much as you want. There are no rules to this thing. You make the rules. You can define and refine yourself and your life every minute and every day of your life.
Live, Love, and Lead with Aloha.