Change is optional and so is success. They both result from awareness and choice. The choice to move towards discomfort, which is a practice, rather than staying rooted in comfort, which can be a trap. Choice requires us to acknowledge our feelings, doubts, fears, limitations and discomforts and then do the most unnatural thing and move into and through that discomfort. Moving out into the realm of the scary unknown is where the whole world of possibility, potential and adventure lives. It is where that other career is waiting; or the love of your life lives; or that dream of sailing around the world is waiting.
Choice is action-focused and requires on-going practice within the realm of awareness and accountability. The art of practicing in the presence of fear challenges people to stretch, grow, adapt and change. And, practicing within our safety zone, is akin to driving a car without leaving the driveway. This action-focused process also helps us to normalize our predictable obstacles, such as procrastination, uncertainty and guilt. You cannot conquer anything you do not acknowledge exists including the possibility of failure, fear and the unknown. These are all speedbumps we put in our own way of creating what it is we want. Recycling the past creates the same future. For lasting change to occur, breaking out of old patterns, habits and normalizing our speedbumps is important. Speedbumps that are huge are difficult to get over but speedbumps that are small can be stepped over or gone around.
This concept of removing, or minimizing, what is in our way starts with shifting the context in-order-to view obstacles as challenges, rather than problems. Problems are often perceived as something that is broken and, therefore, requires fixing. It is often rooted in fear and is limited in its outcome. Challenges, on the other hand, are perceived as obstacles which require creativity and ingenuity. Challenges are curious and exciting, and the possibilities are endless. When we shift from problem context into challenge context our options for change are limitless. Take the idea of possibly losing your job next month. Shift from problem mode into possibility mode and you go from fear and dread, to curiosity and excitement. The only challenge left is how to manage that change.
The concept of successfully managing change begins with separating facts from perceptions and interpretations and then observing the thoughts surrounding those facts. This allows us to create actions and practices based on reality and not a story we have created from our interpretations. From this place we are equipped to manage the different phases of change and change does not manage us.
If this article has you curious about how you view and manage change, consider the following 3 questions: What are the 5 most common obstacles you put in your own way? How can you normalize those obstacles? What 3 areas of life have you become too comfortable in? Once you have identified the obstacles and how to normalize them, you have a choice around what you are going to do next. For example, procrastination is a common obstacle and getting rid of cable TV for a month might be a neutralizer. What could you do with all the time that would have been filled with watching television? Without awareness, there can be no choice. Next, look at the obstacles you have identified and notice how they show up in the areas of your life you have become too comfortable in and ask yourself, ‘what do I want this to look like 3 months from now?’.
Powerful and lasting change occurs when we declare our future without any evidence that it actually can happen. This requires awareness, normalizing fears, focused-action, practice and motivation from within.
Change begins with the person who wants the change, not from external motivation, which is temporary. From this place, you are free to paint the blank canvas in any way you choose.