Those of us who consult with organizations going through large scale transformation can sometimes forget how unsettling change can be to the individuals involved. Below is an article written by Tamara Lechner providing practical advise on managing personal transformation. When coaching your clients (or yourself) through change, you may want to reference her advise for insights and perspective.
The Positive Approach to Transformation
If You Approach Transformation With Fear
People who approach change with fear of failure or fear of outcome are not setting themselves up for success. Before you begin, examine your beliefs about your goal. Transformation is the combination of becoming more knowledgeable about yourself and cultivating awareness of the basic connectivity of all things. If you want to lose weight, spend some time contemplating your thoughts around weight loss. Have you tried multiple times so your thought is “I cannot lose weight” or are all the women in your family a certain body type so you believe “I have a genetic pre-disposition to being heavy.” Your thoughts create your reality. In the words of Wayne Dyer, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Push through your fear by gathering evidence to support your transformation goal.
Ask Yourself: Are you scared of failure? Why?
Real Life Example
James spent the four years following college in a job that felt soulless. The work was not challenging intellectually and he had a problem with the company’s basic philosophy. James pressed forward despite a nagging feeling that there was something better for him because he was successfully climbing the corporate ladder. He felt that his position should make him happy. James wanted to leave yet his fear of the unknown kept him paralyzed. Eventually he had an aha moment when he had a health scare that got him to examine his fear.
“I was scared of failing if I tried something else. People might judge me for leaving a solid job to try something less secure,” James said. Once he recognized that this was a risk he was willing to take, making a career change was easy.
If You Approach Change Tentatively
Some people recognize patterns in their lives that would be healthy to change but they don’t follow the thought with a clear plan. You may have the thought that it would be healthy to drink more water. Without following the thought with a plan to carry a water bottle in the car or drink a glass of water with each meal, you’re no closer to becoming more hydrated than before having the thought. You have identified something that needs to be changed but you have not taken the first step on the path to creating the change. Confucius said, “It does not matter how slow you go as long as you do not stop.” So make a plan and get started.
Ask Yourself: How have I successfully motivated myself to change in the past? What will I feel like once this change is in place?
Real Life Example
Lauren resolved to stop yelling at her teenagers. She understood that it had never been effective in changing their behavior nor did it feel good for her to communicate this way. Yet she found that when the kids were late getting up or if they didn’t put their shoes in the hall closet she would hear herself yelling at them before she even had time to think about it. Lauren identified a change but failed to plan. Once she was able to visualize her teens listening to her requests and acting on them, she knew how much better she would feel if she kept her cool. She put a plan into place where she took deep breaths before she spoke to her children and she started only making requests if they were in the same room.
If You Approach Change With Aggression
You may be the kind of person who decides to make a change and attacks it full flame. Maybe you decided to change your diet and drop gluten, carbs, and meat all at once. You may stick with it out of sheer willpower but it feels like denial rather than a lifestyle change. Do you find yourself preaching your choices to those around you, telling anyone who will listen why gluten is evil and how carbs are bad for you? It feels like effort more than ease and ultimately the resistance you feel both internally and from your audience will usually nudge you back into old habits.
Ask Yourself: Do I believe I need to be uncomfortable to prod myself into change? Am I attached to the outcome of this transformation? Am I moving toward what I want or away from something I don’t want?
Real Life Example
I had a health practitioner who was very supportive of the gluten-free diet before it was a popular trend. She had cut gluten entirely out of her diet and she was sure that it changed her digestion, her sleep, her skin, and her energy level. She insisted that all her clients, her friends, and her family start eating gluten-free. She refused to treat clients who ate gluten, resulting in some clients who left and others who lied. Ultimately eating gluten-free affected her entire life and practice. What started out as a healthy choice ended up as an unhealthy beginning to a downward spiral of stress and resistance.
If You Approach Change With Confidence, Commitment, and Clarity
Deciding to change might be as simple as a snap of your fingers. When you see a pattern that you want to change, you can decide to change it and then align your actions with your decision. As Deepak Chopra says, “The secret to personal change is to stop fighting against yourself.” Have awareness and gratitude, and celebrate your success. If you begin your transformation feeling as though change has already occurred, you strengthen the neural pathways that support change.
Ask Yourself: How will I feel once I have made this change? How will it feel to celebrate my success?
Real Life Example
Heather read some articles on meditation and felt the current research supported it as a healthy addition to her lifestyle. She imagined feeling less stress and more creativity. After registering for a beginner class Heather made time in her busy morning schedule for a 20-minute daily practice. She started with a goal of one month and to motivate herself she built in the reward of a pedicure at the end of 30 days. Her co-workers all noticed that she was less grumpy and she was on a creative streak at the ad agency where she worked. She felt better and celebrated this.
You too can approach transformation with confidence, commitment and clarity. Start with small steps and keep your focus forward. As Socrates said, “The secret to change is to focus all your energy, not on changing the old, but on building the new.”
Tamara Lechner is a happiness expert and Chopra-Certified Instructor based in Victoria, BC.
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