At any given moment most people report being dissatisfied with at least one of the following areas of their life.
- They feel like their relationship needs an overhaul.
- Or they feel chronically short of money to do the things they want to do.
- Career dissatisfaction often makes the list.
- Followed by feelings of being out of control, binging, or over-indulgence.
When asked if nothing changed for 10 years, would they be content?
The answer was a unanimous, NO!
When asked if nothing changed for 5 years, would they be okay with that result?
Again the response was an overwhelming, NO!
This next part is to be expected, but read on because there is still a surprise glitch in our logic around making desired changes in our lives.
When ask if participants would be willing to take some actions, make some changes from within their current circumstances, to make progress in their lives, would that be acceptable?
Of course the majority said, YES!
Now we get to the part that had my mouth drop open in astonishment. These same people were asked what actions they were currently taking to make progress in the area that they were dissatisfied with.
We have an area of our life that is unacceptable. people actually state that “if nothing changes in this area I would not be happy or content with my life”. They have stated that they would be willing to make some changes from within their current circumstances to make some progress over the next 12 months, and they are not taking any action at all to better their situation.
Why would any of us not be taking even one small action in this situation?
I have a bunch of ideas.
My favorite possible explanation for why people who are dissatisfied with a major area of their life don’t take any action to change it isn’t because they are lazy, or lacking in willpower, it is because they can’t see a different future.
They have not taken the time to stop and visualize the solution. By that I mean detail by detail imagining themselves in a better future.
- What would my life look like if I did get that degree and was working in the field that means something to me?
- What would it look like to have the money to pay for those unexpected expenses and stay on course to take the exotic vacation I have been saving for?
- What would it look like to be in a relationship with someone who is supportive of my needs and interests instead of constantly running me down?
When we don’t hold a powerful vision drawing us into the life of our dreams we remain unmotivated.
But even more than that we remain confused.
We don’t even know where to start!
Below are 4 steps you can take to get started making any change that you plan to make in your life.
First: Clarify and clearly define your vision of your life once your improvements are in place. Get the tools and support you need to help you get clear and get specific with your goal. The more specific you get the more you can feel why this change is important to you. When you know your why, you are more likely to continue to put the necessary effort forth, even when the going gets tough and you come up against some thing you don’t like doing on your way to achieving your personal vision of your life you will have your why to pull you through.
This isn’t always as easy as it sounds. As much as our hearts crave change, our minds resist it, telling us that we are being emotional or unreasonable. There are ways to get yourself ready to change, willing to do the work necessary to live life going after your hope for your future rather than continuing to exist in a less than satisfactory life. It needs to be yours and it needs to be personal, something you would run into a burning building in order to save.
Second: Early on in the path toward change a phenomena occurs that the psychologist C.G. Jung referred to as the shadow emerging. Every path of marked change includes a journey through the shadow. This is where the majority of people turn around and run the other way. The shadow is the feelings of insecurity, doubt, jealousy, fear, and other behaviors that are inconsistent with our goal.
The shadow is the burning building that you have to run into in order to have the change in your life that you’re going after. There is no way around it, you can only go through it. If your why is big enough you might be so lucky that you don’t even notice the heat.
We have unconscious commitments that cause us to behave in ways that run opposite our beliefs and desires. They are unconscious because at some point we decided they were not okay and we tried to suppress them. The simple truth is the more we try to suppress something the power of it increases exponentially and the behavior comes out sideways, almost unconsciously. We feel like powerless witnesses to our own destructive impulses sabotaging our chance for success.
Explore the shadow commitments that get in the way of your dream, find a way to understand and accept them. Then find a productive way to meet those needs that don’t run in opposition to your goals. You end up getting two needs met instead of sacrificing one in order to meet another.
Third: This section comes in three parts.
1) Create a strategy, determining all the actions that will be necessary to fulfill your goals. You may have a dream of opening your own restaurant because you love to cook with healthy natural foods and you want to share that love of food with the world. The actions necessary to open a restaurant are as far away from cooking as anything I can imagine. But if it really is your dream, because say your favorite uncle owned a restaurant and the best memories of your childhood were spent in the happy community feeling that he created there, so you want to create your own version of that. Your vision may be something simpler, it may be the vision of you pulling on your skinny jeans with ease again. What ever it is, create a strategy that best supports you as you do the work toward achieving your vision.
2) Time to upgrade the skills that will be necessary to achieve your results. If you want to take better control of your finances so you can save and have money to do some of the things that you have to continually put off due to budget restrictions, but you have never balanced a checkbook. You have some skills that need to be developed.
3) Determine what environment best supports your success for your goal and do your best to optimize your environment for success.
Going back to the skinny jeans; removing all junk food from the house. Enlisting family members in supporting your choices by keeping junk food out of the house, and providing healthy tasty treats so you do not feel like you have to suffer while everyone else is enjoying their old ways of eating.
Or for example; if you are running your home based business from your dining room and the kids are running through playing and wanting to talk all the time. Some optimization of your environment may be in order.
Last: But not by any means least. Meet your soul. This is where the real work begins. You have done a lot of work already. But in order to make that dream a reality there is going to be some more heavy lifting involved. There is going to be resistance and there are going to be endings.
Would you like me to tell you that in seven weeks, and three easy steps, your life will be fantastic! Just listen to my webinar, give me your money, and you will be well on your way… Sorry no can do.
Have you ever tried to organize a closet? Less than halfway through the project it looks like the closet threw up all over the room. I have had observers mock my efforts and make snarky comments like, “I thought you were supposed to be cleaning in there…” Making major changes is like cleaning the closet, first it gets messy. Then we get uncomfortable with the mess and we want to quit. I have, on more than one occasion, decided today was not the day to take on the closet and stuffed everything back in to wait for another more ambitious day.
This is when coaching becomes absolutely necessary. This is when outside wisdom, experience and support can keep you sorting through the closet with the end vision in sight. To remind you why you took the initial action in the first place and remind you how far you have already come. It is also nice to be reminded you that the only thing you will have to let go of in order to achieve a desired goal in your life are the things that are blocking that goal.
The beginning of any new thing is also the ending of another thing. Resistance to letting of that thing go can be the most difficult phase of change, this is when a healthy knowledge of change and someone who is not as emotionally involved in the process can be of great assistance.
One of the things I know about change is, once your soul has decided on a path, (has picked a closet for you to clean out), it will create many opportunities for you to get on that path. We can resist for a while, but we continually find ourselves back in front of that closet door. If we do not do the work ourselves, consciously, our soul will find a way for all the obstacles to be removed and drop us on our path anyway. You can either go willingly and go the easy way, or you can go the hard way and be dragged by life’s circumstance.
Sorry if that sounds like a downer, but I am all about truth telling, and I am also an advocate for doing it the easy way. I’m sure you are too.