What Makes Change So Challenging?
Are you a big dreamer? Do you find yourself brimming with amazing ideas? Are you known as a visionary; a true possibility thinker? That’s an amazing place to be, provided you also possess the ability to follow through and work hard to make those dreams a reality.
Or are you a doer by nature who is not fazed by hard work? That’s also not a bad place to be, provided you have a dream worth pursuing.
Whether you are a dreamer or a doer, in order for you to reach your full potential and walk more fully in who God created you to be, odds are you can’t remain where you are. Not to mention, life is about change —there’s no getting around it. When growth, reproduction, activity, and continual change are no longer present, neither is life!
So how will you tackle the gap between where you are and where you need to be? That’s tricky – change is not easy! What makes it so hard? Change is more challenging when you don’t…
1. Know WHAT to change
You may have a sense of where you would like to be, but have no idea how to get there. Settling on a starting point to begin making changes can be overwhelming! Is it best to start with tasks, your habits, weaknesses, behaviors, or mindsets? Or is what needs to be adjusted something that you are not even aware of?
To pinpoint a starting point consider…
- Setting aside time alone with God, asking Him to reveal what He wants you to change.
- Asking trusted family members or friends to share with you five things they love and appreciate about you, and one change you might make.
- Working with a life coach who can provide a safe place for you to explore the gap between where you are and where you want to be in your life and leadership. A life coach will help you identify what needs to change, support you through the process, and help you reframe your situation so that you are able to see new possibilities.
You may want to take one, two, or all three of these steps. One thing is for certain: the clearer you are on what needs to change the easier it will be to make a change.
2. Take the TIME to change
There is no getting around it, change is a process and processes take time. If you venture into change expecting immediate results you are sure to be disappointed.
New habits take a minimum of thirty days to take hold, sometimes longer. Too often, you get off to a great start but by the end of the first week you drift back to your old ways. A few false starts like this and you have less and less motivation to try again.
3. Make a PLAN for change
If you’re serious about making changes, slow down, stop running in circles, and create a plan that includes:
- Setting a SMART goal or goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound.
- Breaking down your goal into teeny tiny steps that when completed leave you with a feeling of accomplishment and motivation to take on the next step. As they say, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”
- Identifying potential obstacles before they derail you.
- Creating an accountability team – family, friends, or a life coach that can support you and hold you accountable through your change process.
- Re-evaluating along the way. What patterns do you see creeping in? What adjustments do you need to make to your plan? These are not failure moments, but learning moments.
- Establishing rewards for the steps you take towards changes.
4. Prepare for the EMOTIONS of change
Surprising emotions bubble up when you are in the process of change. Don’t be surprised by feelings of loss, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and more. That’s why it is important to give yourself permission to feel and to take the time to be curious about what your emotions are revealing. Journaling, talking with a friend, or working with a coach can be incredibly useful in the discovery process!
5. Create an ENVIRONMENT for change
Without setting the stage for success, the odds are naturally against you. Ready to create an environment conducive to change? It’s all about adding and subtracting; adding to your life what will facilitate change, and eliminating whatever will hold you back.
For example, if you are trying to eat healthier – hang out with health nuts and stock up on healthy foods. Then limit your time with the junk food junkies in your life and toss the junk food.
Trying to increase your productivity? Add what inspires you to your work space as well as tools like timers to keep you working within set time blocks, a proper filing system, or even a scented candle if that helps you focus. Eliminate clutter; turn off social media, emails, and anything that is a distraction.
6. Know how to handle the DISCOMFORT of change
Who wants to be uncomfortable? No one really! Clinging to comfort – that’s the very thing that will prevent you from making necessary alterations. As a life coach, I frequently talk with people who are frustrated, down, and hating life, yet so afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone and experiencing temporary discomfort that they do nothing. What they don’t realize is that experiencing discomfort gets a little easier each time you do it. And the longer you put off the discomfort, the harder it is to make changes.
Remember, discomfort is temporary and pales by comparison to your current unhappiness or the many benefits of change.
7. Include GOD in the process of change
In the end, the thing that has to change is your heart. The only one who can do that is God. That’s why it is imperative that you include Him in your process by spending time with Him daily and relying on Him for help each step of the way! Perhaps the most important change you can make is making daily time with Him a priority if you haven’t already.
What changes do you need to make? What are you missing out on if you don’t?
© Can Stock Photo / kchungtw