When it comes to change, there are a ton of long-held perspectives that have infiltrated our collective psyches. Here’s what immediately pops for me:
Change is bad.
Change is good.
Change is scary.
Change is essential.
Change is inevitable.
Please fill in the blank: Change is ___________.
And boy, did crowd-sourcing get crowded. People showed up:
Change is growth.
Change is a new beginning.
Change is an opportunity
Change is constant. As in, nothing is constant by change
Change is hard when you want it and even harder when you don't.
Change is obliviously necessary.
Change is a rolling sea of self-discovery.
Change is the only sure thing.
Change is fun!!!
Change is the nervous, scary, thrilling, hell YES! swirly feeling in your stomach.
Change is the nature of reality.
Change is the one thing we all want. Even though we pretend we don't.
Change is never as scary as the story made up in our heads says it is.
Change is healing.
Change is constant, scary and liberating.
Change stop in your tracks if you let or it can fly you forward if you jump on and hang on.
Change is creation at work.
Change is the E-ticket ride of life.
Change challenges us to become someone we were waiting to be!
Change is inevitable and can't happen too quickly.
Change is up to me.
Change is good. Even if it comes kicking and screaming.
Change is necessary for growth and survival.
Change is certain, whether you are ready or not.
Change is welcome.
Change is inevitable.
Change is freeing!
To every last statement.
At various points along the path of change, some answers feel more relevant than others…
…but with each answer, I felt truth resonate.
(Psssst…Here’s a litmus test to reveal your own perspective on change. Notice your reactions when you read the words: “Change of plans.” Or: “time for a change”. How do you feel? Excited? Annoyed? Frustrated? Fearful?)
Change is…Different. And So Your Responses Will Be Different, Too.
When I think about change, I notice that there are two TYPES of change:
1) Change that is thrust upon us.
2) Change we choose (a.k.a. change we thrust upon ourselves).
Circumstantial change can be complicated in how it manifests and yet simple in how we must approach it: adapt or die.
Your partner loses their job. There’s an unexpected pregnancy. You’re asked to relocate.
At our worst, we kick, scream, deny and avoid. At our best, we recognize the opportunity (after we’ve kicked and screamed and denied and avoided). And then we proceed. Evolving as we go.
But choosing to make a change?
Ahhhh. THIS is where the honey is at.
By and large, most respondents to my less-than-scientific-experiment suggested that this kind of change is essential.
We know it. We know we’ve been making excuses our whole lives: for our disconnection, for our weight, for our smoking, for our poor diet, for our unfulfilling career.
Then something happens. It could be an event, or we hit a wall, or we just get tired. In that moment, we decide to stop making excuses and start making changes.
And that moment is exhilarating…
…and scary as hell.
Immediately, our now-wide-awake inner voices (critics, gremlins, saboteurs…whatever you call them) start frantically screaming: “NO NO NO!!!! Don’t change! Stay safe! Keep your head down. WHATEVER YOU DO…DO NOTHING!!!!”
Given the visceral knee-jerk reaction, it’s a wonder we persevere. And yet we do.
Persevere. Change. Plan. Shine.
Here’s how to make a change. Any change. On your terms.
- Get clear about WHY you want to make the change. What’s the ultimate goal and how will you FEEL? What will this change give you?
- Set your “start” and “by when” dates. And don’t allow yourself to get freaked out about either date. They can’t hurt you…I promise.
- Know your triggers and plan for work-arounds. And if you DON’T know your triggers, spend some time documenting them before your start date. (What was going on before you reached for the Chips Ahoy, cigarette, or remote control?)
- Decide how you’ll measure your progress. Is Excel your friend or foe? A whiteboard checklist? A notepad that goes everywhere you go?
- Ready your support systems (accountability partnerships work wonders).
- Commit fully to your start date. Do this as publicly as you are willing to. (Maybe even more so).
- Check in truthfully with yourself as you log your progress. Also take time to feel into what’s going on with you. Where’s the resistance? What are you resisting (for real?) How can this be more fun (yup, I went there)?
- Expect homeostasis and be ready for it. Know it’s a good sign (it will set in when you’re partway through the change when the old is undone and the new is not yet embedded). You’re mostly there, Rock Star!
- Lean into your support. They said “yes” because they want you to succeed.
- Celebrate every win. Daily.
- Count on slipping and know how you are with that. Learn from it, recalibrate and have another go. You must. You’re counting on you.
And while you're doing all of that, remember this, Sunshine: you can make changes or you can make excuses. Your choice.