Do you know that feeling of procrastination that feels like you’re stuck? That stuckness can be a blocker in making big changes. And, all of us have someplace in our life where we know, it’s time for a change. So let’s dive in and look at what is required to overcome inertia and make big changes in your life.
Cha Cha Cha Changes…
Human growth and development comes at the cost of making changes through time. Yet, somewhere along the journey, many people think, “I shouldn’t have to change… I am fine just the way I am. In fact, you should change…” And this sentiment is the first step down a slippery path to a bumpy road. Change is growth. Changing ourselves is fundamental to our growth, spiritually, physically, mentally, and creatively. And re-writing our narrative to name change as growth can be a powerful transformation, allowing us to embrace change as part of our lives.
6 Stages of Change
Not every aspect of our lives needs to be changed radically at every moment, that would be exhausting. Yet, along the way, there are places where our actions cause us or others grief. And, the impact to ourselves and others outweighs our desire to keep doing the same thing.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Albert Einstein
So, in an effort to stop the insanity, let’s take a look at the typical steps in the change process.
If this is an interesting article, you may enjoy Understanding and Developing these 7 Habits that will Change Your Life.
I took a course on entrepreneurship, and one of the first principles of being an entrepreneur is the awareness of problems. If you can see all the problems around you, then you will have the basis for creating solutions, it’s a core business concept. I discuss this in my book StoryJacking; developing awareness about what isn’t working in your life, in a situation, and how you are treating yourself and/or others.
What stories do you tell yourself? And even more important, what stories do you repeat? If you are not where you want to be in your life, then it may be time to explore if you are in denial about changes that need to happen. Confronting our own denial is the most important first step in creating any meaningful changes. As long as you deny the need for change, you will not take action, and thusly, nothing will change.
Take a moment and consider a situation in your life, where you honestly need a change. Write it down.
Once you recognize that there are aspects of your life that need change, you can begin the process of developing your awareness. What stories do you believe about what you are capable of? Where do these stories come from? Do the stories work for you? Or, are these stories limiting you? Where is the gap in the story, from where you are now, to where you want to be?
Expanding your awareness about the stories that you may be telling yourself that are not benefiting you; is key to Jacking the Story.
There is a subtle difference between awareness and acknowledgment, but acknowledgment is important in recognizing the truth of your awareness. People can sit in the place of awareness for a long time before they are ready to move on I believe that acknowledging the importance of your awareness begins to shift us into thoughtful action. Acknowledgment requires that we own our behaviors, our thoughts, and accept that they didn’t develop in a vacuum, but rather that they came to us as a tool and they may no longer serve with the same benefit anymore. It is impossible to let go of anything that we are either in denial of or still fighting with inside ourself.
You can move from denial to awareness; you can have a deep understanding and have acknowledged the issues around you. But, if you don’t actually desire the changes, or want to shift or Jack your Story, nothing will happen. Desire can move mountains, and it can literally carry us along through difficulties that otherwise we would avoid. When the desire to be different overcomes the comfort of staying the same, we start to move from thoughtful action to actual action.
And, here’s the deal, we often take on changes because we think we are supposed to. Maybe our parents or our children want us to make a change. Possibly we are in the pre-contemplative stage and are only shopping the change, but not ready to commit. Whatever place you are in the change process, without a strong desire to see the change through, any bump in the road will likely knock you off the wagon. When I think about changes, especially big changes, I scale my desire. Zero (0) to ten (10); if I am not excited, energized or determined enough to be at least an 8 or 9 in commitment or desire for change, I have to wonder if I really want what I say I want.
If you find yourself lacking desire, rethink what you say you want. Look to your life, and sit with what is important enough for you to be at least an 8. Then make that the goal.
Blocks, Fears, and Sticking Points.
Once we know what we need to do, and we desire to do it, often comes a phase where our fears get triggered. We will often throw up all sorts of blocks, or fears, that can derail our forward trajectory.
The human brain hates change; there is some interesting research on the amounts of glucose that the brain uses to learn new things, and technically, the brain wants to conserve as much energy as possible. Trying to avoid change is the brains’ way of conserving energy. New habits require more attention than old hardwired habits.
Then there are the normal things that we use to avoid discomfort. Like the discomfort of being outside our of comfortable box. For instance, the stories that we have told ourselves for years about what we can and can’t do, what we should or shouldn’t do, these old stories will likely raise their voices and try and shut you down. I was just having a conversation with someone today about writing their book. They are in the space of not sharing what they are up to with others because other people’s limits get dumped on them too. “You know, it’s really hard… it’s probably a waste of time…” And all these are limiting perspectives.
The antidote to our fear is Grace. Giving ourselves permission to have fears, acknowledging them, breath through them, forgiving ourselves for being human, and then pushing on.
Creating a new story.
To make big changes, you are going to have to create a new story. StoryJacking your life doesn’t mean you have to know exactly what the end will look like. Yet you do have to design a story that resonates with you, and that shows you the horizon in the direction that you want to go. Questions that might help you think this through might sound like, what is important to me? What am I missing in my life that I will regret if it doesn’t happen? What am I passionate about? When I am having fun and talking with friends, what topics do I get really energized by? What do I think I am good at? What did I want to be when I was a kid? Is there a dream I gave up on that, I still think about?
Once you have a vision or goal of how you want to show up in your life, it’s much easier to determine the actions that will take you there. I ask myself this question for every goal I have. “Is what I am about to say, think, or do, going to take me one step closer to my goal or one step farther away?” This is my compass towards the destination of the story I want to live.
Once you have a vision of the new story that aligns with your big changes, then you can determine what actions need to happen. Habits of action, thinking, reacting, or responding are like superhighways in our minds. To create a new habit, we are going to have to look for tiny exit ramps and pull over and get some extra resources. One very useful technique comes from BJ Fogg’s work on Tiny Habits.
Tiny habits are based on habit links. For instance, if I have a hardwired habit of brushing my teeth, linking a new habit to the old habit can help to form the new wiring in my brain. If I want to build strength, maybe every time I brush my teeth, I also do 10 pushups. The point is to link something you already do with something you want to do more.
You might try to gamify your big change. My best friend and I both talked about wanting to get more fit. And, as much as I was talking about the desire to get more fit, my fitness app was showing me that in April I worked out 3 times, and in May I worked out 3 times. This wasn’t the sort of program that I wanted; I needed something more than my good intentions.
So, Michele and I discussed being accountability partners. In June I worked out 5 times, and July 9 times. I was moving s-l-o-w-l-y in the right direction, and while better than nothing, it wasn’t enough. In July, we discussed our accountability again, and Michele came up with the idea that used our natural competitiveness. Whoever worked out the most won and the other one owed them $25 dollars. The more we talked about this, the more we realized we wanted a way for both of us to win. Also, we were in competition with ourselves, not each other. So, we agreed to work out 20 days a month. If we didn’t work out at least 20 days, we owed the other person $50. If we both worked out 20 days or more, we would put $25 dollars in our travel savings for a trip together. As I write this, I have worked out 21 days in August.
If you have big dreams, what got you where you are, may need adjustments or flat out changes to get you further down the road towards your goal. Use these 6 stages to support yourself in plugging away towards what you say is important to you. Draw on your courage, fortitude, perseverance, and maybe your competitiveness and craft a story that opens the path to your dreams. Dream big – work smart.
I would LOVE to hear from YOU!
- Which of the questions in the blog spoke to you?
- What will you do with the awareness that you now have?
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article originally posted on Dec 2, 2019. Updated Feb 16, 2023.