How to Make Important Life Changes
Happy fall! In the spirit of Thanksgiving, thank you for the opportunity to connect with inspiring, thoughtful folks like you. I feel incredibly fortunate to have a career that empowers others to effect meaningful change in their lives.
Speaking of change, autumn often evokes powerful images of change. If you’re thinking about making a big change in your life – for example a new career, more time with family, a healthier lifestyle, etc. – this issue will help you break through barriers and create your own action plan.
“If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.” – Author Unknown
With deep gratitude,
How to Make Important Life Changes
If you’re like many of my clients, you may want to make big changes in your life – for example, a new career, more time with family or a healthier lifestyle – but you don’t know where to start, life gets in the way or you end up feeling stuck.
So, what’s holding you back?
Perhaps it’s procrastination, self-sabotage or fear of the unknown. Or maybe you start initiating change, but quickly fall back into an existing comfort zone. This “easy route” often leads to complacency and stagnation.
How can you make lasting changes to enrich your life?
Here are a few thoughts that I’ve picked up through coaching over the years:
Slow Down – If you’re stressed out or operating at full steam all the time, it’s incredibly difficult to make any real, lasting change in any part of your life. So, your first step is to slow down and free up the mental and emotional space that’s needed. Decades of research point to the benefit of reflective activities that quiet fear, doubt and worry and allow you to be more energized, engaged and in the moment. For example, try carving out 10 minutes twice a day for a daily renewal ritual such as meditation, yoga, prayer, writing, listening to music, walking, painting, knitting, etc. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it allows you to truly slow down, create space, and renew your energy – all necessary ingredients for change.
Draft a Vision – Before you spend the time and energy that’s required to make a big change, take a step back and focus on what’s really important to you. When the time feels right, write out a couple of paragraphs about where you want to be with your goals one year from now. For example, how will success with your goals impact your life and how you show up in the world?
Identify Your Strengths – In our culture, there’s a lot of focus on shortcomings and weaknesses which can make us feel powerless. Instead, what if you empowered yourself by focusing on the strengths that are inherent in you? If you determine your core strengths and leverage them, you’ll be more successful in achieving your vision and more fulfilled in the process. For example, if you want to get into a new career and one of your strengths is connecting with others, it will serve you well to attend networking events and to conduct informational interviews. Since you excel at these types of activities and they come naturally to you, chances are you will not only succeed but also enjoy the process.
Craft a Plan – Once you know your strengths and have a clear vision, break your goal into small, achievable action steps that are big enough to give you a sense of progress yet small enough to be realistic. If you’re a high-achiever, you may try to take on everything all at once, which can set you up for failure. Instead, set yourself up for success by starting with small action steps and slowly working towards your goal.
Create Accountability – On average, it takes about 28 days to create a new habit. For example, if you’re trying to create a healthier lifestyle by eating right and exercising more, it will take about a month for these actions to become routine. Change is often one step forward and two steps back and you’ll inevitably face challenges and set-backs along the way. You’ll need support while you make major changes in your life and work towards your vision. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. Talk to your friends, colleagues or coach about your plans and ask them to help hold you accountable. Other people will help you stay motivated, accountable and on track and when you accomplish your goals, you’ll have others with which to celebrate.
Now that you have an rough outline of how to effect personal change, I encourage you to work through your plan and customize it in a way that serves you.
Ready, set, go. You can do it.