When was the last time you really wanted to change something? How easy was it? Changing aspects of your life or work can be quite a challenge. Over 70% of all initiated changes fail to meet expectations. Why is that?
I can think of two main reasons:
First, “People are attached to the life they know – it’s within their comfort zone.” We all have our own automatic patterns that determine our behavior, and we are often unaware of these.
Second, “Real changes require commitment – the courage to look at your patterns and see things with fresh eyes.” You could say it requires leadership, taking responsibility for your life.
Discover the challenges of change in seven steps:
1. A change is usually born out of a crisis. You may get an uncomfortable feeling when things aren’t working for you anymore. Maybe at first you try to avoid the situation, or to fight against it. There is a clear wish to change the situation.
2. The most reliable way of predicting the future is to look at how you behaved yesterday. This is the most probable future. If you were doing things that didn’t work for you yesterday, you will probably do more of the same tomorrow. We all have automatic patterns that we just fall into. We replay those patterns over and over again without knowing it. But not dealing with them is a recipe for failure.
3. If you really want to change something, you will have to go to a deeper level, to your blind spot. Be brave here. This may be confronting and uncomfortable at first, discovering things about yourself you didn’t know. Look back at events in your life that remind you of your current situation, from your most recent to your earliest memory:
a) Think about a situation in which you failed. What was it? What did not work for you?
b) How did the fact that it wasn’t working feel to you?
c) How did you respond to failure? Did you fight, freeze or flee?
d) What did you say to yourself (negative self-talk)?
What is your pattern?
Doing this exercise myself, I discovered that my very first school day was an important moment. I was six years old. The new teacher was testing our skills. Most children could read and write a little, but I couldn’t, and I felt dumb. I said to myself, “It is not good enough, you’ve got to do this better!” Over time, I became a hardworking person, very much focused on the content, but as a result, I wasn’t very flexible.
4. Be kind to yourself. Do not blame yourself here. This is probably a pattern you adopted a long time ago for reasons that at the time were valid. Just feel it is OK, there is nothing wrong with you.
5. Discover how it feels if there wouldn’t be this negative self-talk. You may experience freedom and feel at ease. What would your actions be like? Would they be different? Connect to this feeling, and use it in the future.
6. A real change always starts with a decision. Commit to things that matter to you in a way that inspires you.
7. Get ready to take action. Describe what you would like to achieve in detail. Make lists of plans and action steps. Keep the decision alive, perform the actions, and share experiences with others.
Once your pattern is no longer automatically taking over your life, you will start to experience freedom. Freedom to create what matters to you.
Are you ready for taking responsibility for your life?