How Do I Change My Life?
We all have things we would like to change in our lives. Are you looking to make one BIG change in a specific area of your life? Maybe you want to build on and improve something you’re already doing but don’t seem to be achieving the progress you would like. It could be that you’re just not happy with your life situation and/or the person you are right now and are looking to change everything (in which case I would suggest focusing on a few specific things to move yourself forward).
Whatever you are looking to change and whatever there may be that you’re not happy with, the following steps form a great framework to help you create the focus and actions you need to make your goals a reality.
If you feel like you are ‘not good enough’ or the thing you really want to change most is YOU, then the following steps are even more important. Combine these with building your confidence and self belief and you really can achieve amazing results. If you’d like more help in creating positive change (and even enjoying the process) take the first step now by booking a free chat with me here.
The Six (and a half) Steps To Change Just About Anything…
There may be a whole range of different specific actions that you need to take to implement a specific change in your life but whatever it is that you want to change it all starts in the same place. Whether it’s eliminating an unhealthy habit, building and embedding a new one, becoming a better person or wanting a better life, it all starts in the same place…
All effective change has to start with awareness. It is the most fundamental part of the process and yet it’s often the stage we are most resistant to. Whatever it is that you want to achieve you’ll find it far easier if you take the time to acknowledge things as they are first.
Growing your awareness can be uncomfortable at times. Sometimes it means recognising things that you’d would rather not focus on. With our awareness we always have three options available to us. We can choose to escape awareness: this may involve scrolling aimlessly through social media, playing games on a phone or zoning out in front of the tv. We can remain neutral and simply allow our attention to be dictated by our surroundings. Or, we can choose to increase our level of awareness. This is true for our self awareness as much as it is for our awareness of others and of situations around us.
A great example of the importance of awareness come from anxiety and panic attacks. Though it may seem like an extreme example I think it highlights the importance and power of acceptance nicely.
Often panic attacks often occur when there is SOMETHING uncomfortable, something undesirable, something difficult that we just don’t want to face (This could be the feelings of anxiety and worry in themselves). So we look away, we try to pretend it’s not a problem. We do whatever we can to shift our focus AWAY from the perceived problem. Unfortunately the problem doesn’t go away just because we are ignoring it. In fact, it just gets worse and the worry continues to grow. Eventually it reaches the stage where we can’t ignore it any longer and by then, the worry has grown so large that we are unable to ignore it any longer. By this point, when we are able to ignore it no longer, the worry has grown and it’s too ‘big’ an issue to do anything about. We feel like we have no control and that’s when the panic attack takes over. Imagine instead, taking the time earlier in the process to acknowledge the problem and decide to deal with it BEFORE it gets too much to handle.
How can we change anything if we don’t admit to ourselves that it needs to change?
Be intentional with your awareness.
Once you have awareness of the problem, the next step is to accept it for what it is. Acceptance of the way things are isn’t the same as settling for the way things are and it’s not about apportioning blame for the way things are. Whatever has already happened in the past has already happened. You CAN’T change the past. What you do have control over is what choice you make RIGHT NOW (like the decision to read this blog and put in to action what you learn). You can choose what you do next. Whatever has happened will never not have happened but it can lead you to somewhere better in the future.
You don’t need to consider things to be ‘desirable’ to accept them, you can love and accept yourself and still choose to improve and grow beyond that.
Example: Jane may not love her tummy as it is right now but she can accept it as it is, smile knowing that it’s a result of bringing her amazing children into this world and of having the ability to afford plenty of good food. Having accepted that it is as it is, she’s now ready to move forward and do something different.
Become aware of the way things are and accept everything for what it is. Only when you accept what is can you then identify the best way to change it. OF course, before you can actually put things in place to change it, there’s another step to take…
Embrace opportunities to accept things as they are.
Once you recognise and accept things as they, no matter how uncomfortable or undesirable they may be, you know what it is you want to change. The next step is to identify what you want instead.
For example: Someone wanted to quit smoking. They had the awareness that the habit was undesirable and they knew it would be better for their health if they quit. They accepted that the smoking had become a habit and that they did not want to continue it. They also realised and accepted that they had become an expert at making excuses for themselves and justifying ‘just finishing this packet’ or that “I can quit, I just don’t really want to yet” etc. If this person jumps ahead to the next step it will be harder for them to change their habits and behaviours because they will be focused on “giving up” smoking. Who really wants to work hard to give up something that they believe they enjoy? Taking some time to stop and become clear about what you really DO want – what you ASPIRE to – will make the process far easier and more enjoyable.
Rather than quitting smoking, focus on becoming smoke-free. Think about (and even visualise) what it will be like when you achieve the change you want to make. In this example it may be about having more energy, being able to exercise/play more without getting out of breath, enjoying uninterrupted time with friends or family in the warm (rather than not disrupting social events to go and have a smoke). You get the idea.
It’s different for everyone and every change but stop and get clear about what it is you really DO want. Focus on that and what you are moving toward rather than placing all your focus on what you are moving away from.
When you know where you want to be and keep you focus there, it’s a lot easy to get there and to notice when you’re course needs adjustment.
Be clear about what you want and aspire to be the person you need to be to make it happen.
In the (paraphrased) words of Sir Issac Newton: An object in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
I think all of these steps are important and awareness has to come first on the list but without action the rest of these steps won’t get you to where you want to be. You’ve recognised (awareness) something that you consider undesirable, some kind of opportunity for growth, then you’ve accepted it as it is rather than denying the reality. You’ve decided what “good looks like” and the reality you want to create for yourself – GREAT! Now you need to take action!
You could sit and make an action plan, you could create daily habits that move you forward, you could reach out for some help and support form those around you or a professional like myself, There’s a whole load of different actions you can take depending on what you need most and what the change is that you wish to create but regardless of the details one thing is certain:
There is no change without ACTION.
After writing this I realised that there was another element to the process. Conveniently it also begins with an A.
The first three steps are in order but just because you were ready to move to step four doesn’t mean that you can forget all about the previous steps. It’s still important to maintain and increase awareness as this allows you to discover and learn more about yourself as you work through the ‘A’s. Keep learning as you go, driven by awareness, acceptance and aspiration. Take action to move things forward BUT… be prepared to make adjustments as you go. Keep learning and stay aware so that you can make sure you’re still on track and that you still have the same aspiration. Particularly with bigger, long-term changes it’s possible that the process of change may uncover new learnings and new opportunities for greater awareness that may impact your aspirations.
Sometimes the best adjustment you can make is to your own thinking.
With the right actions built from a place of awareness and acceptance, focused on what you aspire to and adjusted as needed to get you the results you desire, comes achievement.
There’s a good chance that there will be a number of different moments and levels of achievement along the way too. It’s not just about the end result. Remember to notice, enjoy and celebrate these achievements. Most of us are very well practiced at beating ourselves up and focusing on the things that we didn’t do so well. Remember to embrace your achievements as you go and recognise the results of the effort and focus you put in.
Celebrate your achievements with pride!
Congratulations. You achieved something. You have moved yourself forward you have created change. The journey isn’t over yet though. What you have now is greater experience and better understanding of yourself and of what it takes to generate change. Keep going and continue the great work you have put in and keep learning. By assessing the process and recognising the progress you can increase your awareness further. You can learn what worked well and what you can do better in the future.
Personal Growth is a life-long journey.
Are You Ready To Change?
The chances are, if you are reading this article (and especially if you stayed with me to this point) that you have already attempted to make some sizeable changes to your life. Realistically, you’ve probably succeeded to make some changes too. But that’s not why you’re here, you’re reading this because there’s a change (or series of changes) that you want to make and haven’t yet nailed it. That’s okay. (You may also want to check out my article about why relying on willpower alone doesn’t work)
One of the key factors to your success will come down to whether you believe that you’re capable of influencing events in your life enough to create the desired change. The good news is – you absolutely CAN make it happen. If you would like further support in making that a reality, especially if you’re looking for help building your own self-confidence and belief in being able to attain the positive results you’re looking for, get in touch to find out how Mind Affinity can help you to Empower Yourself.
You may also want to check out my older article about the six areas of focus that will help you improve your life.