Change Begins When You Do: Practical Steps to Achieving Your GoalsGeorgina Cannon, D.MsC, M.NLP, M.Ht May 1, 2012
I don’t believe that we humans work well with personal revolution – instant change. I believe we work best with evolution – slow, progressive change.
I also believe that change is not just about us, but about the people around us. And they can make a huge difference in the process of our ability to change.
If we look at the arc of change, we tend to move from guilt (generally speaking) into fear or uncertainty. What do I mean by that? Well, we wouldn’t be wanting to change something if we were satisfied with the way we are. And if it’s a debilitating habit like procrastination, smoking, always being late for appointments, or wanting to exercise and somehow never finding the time – there’s a sense of guilt or ‘should and haven’t’ around it.
Then, because we’re moving into the unknown of ‘what if?’ when we make changes, there’s a certain amount of fear or uncertainty about the ‘new you.’ Also the people around you may resist or resent that change. “I think you’re fine just the way you are. Why do you have to starve yourself to look different?” (This came from the mother of one of our clients who wanted to let go of some weight.)
So, how to overcome these obstacles and allow the evolution of change to take place?
Essential Steps to Positive Change
First, you need to know exactly what it is you want to change. And by when. Look at where you are now, and where you want to be in the future. That vision or decision about you in your future has to be exact – what it looks like, what it feels like, and what it sounds like. At the same time, visualize the environment in which that change completion takes place. Indoors or outside? Day time or night-time? Sum- mer, winter, spring or fall?
Second, you need a team to support your change. Not exactly a board of advisors, but more a team of quietly supportive coaches, who understand your intentions, and are totally with you in the vision of the outcome. This doesn’t have to be a huge team, it can be a buddy, a couple of people – one at home, one at work, or more. But you do need people onside to cheer you on, to help lift you up when you stumble into obstacles – because there will be obstacles. You also need to feel and hear that folks are on your side as you’re making this journey – there’s always nay-sayers, so you need some yeah-sayers!
Identify the Obstacles
Now let’s look at the obstacles for your change. Not doing this step is most often the downfall of all change plans. If we don’t acknowledge the potential obstacles or barriers to change, we’re going to be blindsided by them and might give up. So, what to do? Start a list of everything that could be an obstacle in your way of the change journey:
• Let’s begin with the oldie – no time;
• No energy at the end of the day;
• I’ll feel like an outsider – and my family will see me as being difficult;
• People will expect me to fail – I always do. I start and don’t finish things;
• I forget to do my homework;
• Missing one day doesn’t matter;
• I didn’t realize I’d be under so much stress;
• Maybe I should wait until after the holidays/my birthday/ my kids leaving home/starting school/my spouse getting a new job, etc.
Overcome the Obstacles
Before starting any change process, the plan has to be a set of actions to follow to achieve that change goal. And the plans must include how to overcome those obstacles. There is always a way. Most often, we have to give up something to make space for new behaviour in life. For instance, if you’re too tired to exercise after work, you could forgo a leisurely lunch and go to the gym then, or get up half an hour earlier and do your exercise/meditation then.
If the family will see you as being difficult because you’re eating differently or quitting smoking – then think about what you might want to do to offset that. Do some cooking yourself and take it over there? Get a family member onside who supports you. Just say it’s a health matter, without going into details. There’s a way, and if you ‘will’ it, rather than ‘won’t’ it, it will come to you.
Neither stress nor lack of time works as a reason not to change. Both have solutions, and both will help the process of change. Stress is released by physical exercise or meditation. Exercise can be as simple as walking a block a day, or up a flight of stairs to build body resilience.
Develop a plan of action to achieve your goal – what by when. Write it down and share it with your support team. See if they can find any holes in it, because you want to know now, before you start, that you have their support all the way.
List the benefits of achieving your goals – make your plan go somewhere, so that you can see, feel and viscerally experience success. Remember you’re building the pathway mentally and physically for change. Your behaviour, body, mind – both conscious and subconscious – have all to be aligned. All pointing in the same direction. This is true decision making.
Two tips to keep you on track: 1) Make a three-minute space in your day, every day, to visualize success. See and be there in all its glory! 2) Change your language. If you keep referring to yourself as a procrastinator, accident-prone, lazy or needing to lose weight, this is past language, it’s not part of the new you. Change your language; make it current. “I’m accomplishing more in my day,” “I’m someone who likes to finish what I start,” “I feel so great when I eat like this – even my skin looks better”. Be current and up-to-date in your language about yourself. You are creating a new you. Let your language echo that change.
As you get closer to achieving your goal, start thinking about what’s next. You now know that real change runs deep. It’s a slow, considered, evolutionary process. So what else can you use this process for?
Be proud of yourself, allow your success to be recognized and acknowledged, first by you, and then by your team. Celebrate and move forward into your new way of living.