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Having to cope with change is one of life’s certainties. We’ve all had more than our fair share of change during 2020. In reality, change catapults you into the latest version of your life. But what about when you want to make a change, break a habit or start a new one?
Here are 10 steps to help you to be successful as you bring about the change you desire:
Get clear on your ‘why’. Why are you bringing about this change? Your ‘why’ comes from within you. It’s a feeling that compels you to do what is necessary, even if it requires sacrifice. Regardless of those sacrifices, you still feel driven to pursue your goal. Initial change is the hardest because it is new and different. Once you build momentum it’s easier to keep going.
Don’t aim to bring about too much change at once. Implement gradual changes. If you want to get up early, take it in small steps. Make the changes incremental using a step-by-step approach. Your chance of success is better if you are not making sudden or radical changes.
Pace yourself to give you time to adjust to the changes. Set realistic, reachable goals and schedules. Prioritise easier changes. This programs you for success which builds confidence.
Be brave and dare to experiment. Acting bravely generally makes us feel good because it involves mastering our emotions. Bravery is about being ok with tolerating uncertainty. Try new things. Dare to turn up the risk. Risk the unknown. Risk embarrassment. Risk failure. Setbacks and failures are inevitable in life. No one is perfect. Failure is part of the process. As John C. Maxwell says “Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.”
Expect and accept setbacks. Some backsliding is inevitable. Be patient. Don’t get discouraged at this point. Setbacks teaches you more than success ever could. Change is often like dancing – two steps forward and one step back. That’s OK because the overall momentum is forward and that spells progress.
Celebrate your small victories and triumphs with little rewards or self-compliments. In one study, published in the Harvard Business Review, it was found that capturing small wins every day, enhances a worker’s motivation. Simply recording progress in some way helps to boost self-confidence and can be put to use towards future successes. Some changes are real breakthroughs – quantum leaps forward. But most comes in small incremental strides which accumulate over time to produce noticeable results.
Avoid negative self-talk and pessimism. Focusing on negative thoughts may lead to decreased motivation as well as greater feelings of helplessness. Avoid phrases such as: I’m too old, it’s too late, it’s no use, I can’t. Instead use positive self-talk. It’s a powerful tool for increasing your self-confidence and curbing negative motions. People who can master positive self-talk are thought to be more confident, motivated and productive.
Anxiety about change is normal and predictable – but shouldn’t be allowed to be a barrier. As you adapt to the latest version of your life, you might feel anxious or overemotional until you regain your footing. The fact is, any time you’re out of your comfort zone, you’re going to feel anxious. Just because you feel anxious, doesn’t mean something bad is going to happen. Most of the time, anxiety means something really great is going on and you are moving through new territory in the direction of your dreams.
Never stop trying. Even in your dreams, don’t give up. Eventually, all your determination will pay off. You have to believe that. No one else will do it for you. Take a little rest if you have to. Then keep on doing what you need to do. Become a student of life and learn from others. Learn from the people you want to become like. Use those lessons that life gives you to make better decisions. Use them to help you to push through whatever hurdles you are facing. You owe it to yourself not to give up.
Have fun. Lighten up. Learn to laugh at yourself. Being able to laugh at yourself is a sign of resiliency and mental toughness. It’s one thing to find humour in particular situations, it’s another to be reflective and self-aware enough to laugh at oneself. Enjoy being you. You deserve to love all that you love. Even if you have a challenging life, make a decision to appreciate yourself and to fully enjoy being you, with all that entails.
Finally, change can be fun, interesting, challenging, exciting. Instead of relying on pain or the avoidance of pain to drive change efforts, consider this question: What would it take to inject more pleasure into the change process itself? Managing change enables us to learn to adapt and develop resilience. Whether you are bringing about change in the way you present yourself, developing new skills, taking a course or changing your routine – you are your own boss in life and a huge amount of change comes from within.