Change does not come all at once. I’ve found that it’s a step by step process that combines our minds, our hearts, and our hands. Here’s a quick summary of the steps:
- Get clear about the truth.
- Face your resistance head on
- Explore possibilities, build momentum, nurture desire
- Vision the end result
- Internalize commitment
- Overcome fear and take action (often action that just “shows up”)
- Stay the course, be persistent
- Feel deserving and open to receiving what you want
- Celebrate and formalize your success
- Be grateful
Step One. The journey begins with coming out of denial about “what’s so.” When we either get the “ah ha” experience, or get fed up enough with the way things are, our mind more easily connects with the truth of where we are.
Step Two. Once out of denial, however, we meet head on with resistance. For example, when the scale says 220, the thought might be, “NFL football players are often that weight or more”. But one day you look down at your toes, and can’t see them due to your midsection protruding a bit too far. “Oh my goodness, I’m too darn fat!” becomes the new reality. But the habit of reaching for the chocolate chip cookies when you feel a bit stressed hasn’t stopped, and your body doesn’t want it to.
Resistance can last a long time, if we let it. In my own experience, when I’ve been stuck in resistance, my whole being gets stuck. I feel dragged down, sometimes even despairing. I get critical of life “doing it to me”, rather than taking responsibility for creating my reality. The way out of being stuck is through awareness, which not only establishes a new pathway for moving on, but shifts the responsibility back to where it belongs: within you.
Step Three. In creating change in your life, explore new possibilities, new options, and gain momentum. This step is sometimes referred to as “wandering in the wilderness”, for things often look confusing and unclear. Many job seekers, those who have lost their job due to a reduction-in-force, are faced with this experience, especially if the job they held wasn’t satisfying.
Step Four. Ultimately, and with persistence and new desire, things do change with the coalescing of a new vision. And we get excited! Sometimes there’s even a “YES!” that just comes out of our mouths!
Step Five. After picturing the end result, it’s necessary to form a new commitment. This commitment is not just a softly spoken wish that things would be different, but rather a heartfelt, full body engagement that declares a new reality! The more you can see this new reality in your mind, and the more you can feel the new reality in your heart, the more power it has to manifest itself into reality.
Here’s my own story that demonstrates just how powerful commitment can be. I had an experience at a workshop in which I uncovered and discovered my reality of not having completed my master’s degree. Not only did I finally get clear about this, but I then declared (in front of witnesses who would hold me accountable!) I was going to complete the degree. I became committed, at least for some heartfelt moments. As I left the workshop, however, my mind began practicing its usual stuff. How was I going to do the seemingly impossible task of taking on an Action Research Project (ARP), actually doing it, then writing it up (similar to a master’s thesis), and getting it approved all within my timeline of five months? I sheepishly went off to work the next day, wondering just what I had done, knowing I was surely a fool for declaring this new commitment. But a big surprise was in store for me as my boss (the Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration) called me into his office. At that time I was the Manager of Employee Involvement for a shipbuilding company in the Northeast.
“Jim, I want you to work with the Contracts Department, and help them with a project to improve the workflow.” Holy bonkers, batman! Here was my project! I declared my goal, and it began to manifest the very next day! While being both shocked and encouraged, (maybe this project would work), I was also scared. Again, old patterns of “not capable enough” started showing up again. So I got a coach, my consultant friend Harry. Harry was good enough to help me process what was going on, and offer some encouragement and insight as more opportunity came my way.
Step Six. Step into the fear, and remain in action. The significant lesson in my experience was that I was not solely in the director’s chair—some other force was at work and even taking the lead. Yes, I met with teams, offered feedback, processed information, and helped this department gain awareness. But I felt more like the facilitator and guide. And although the role was new and scary, I trusted my intuition and pushed on.
But now it was September, and my declaration to have my degree by January 1 of the following year seemed like an impossible accomplishment. Would another miracle be coming around the corner? So it seemed as the company was sold, senior management changed hands, and I was laid off. Fortunately, I had enough time to complete my project. On my last day of work I had the final meeting with the department managers to summarize the findings, then cleaned out my desk and left the building.
With time on my hands, I went to work writing and editing my ARP. I spent my days in the library, and my evenings with my good friend (and later wife) doing the word processing. At times we were at her office computer into the dark hours of early morning pounding out the work that needed to get done.
Step Seven. Be persistent and keep going! It took hard work and a few drafts before the final version was in order. On December 31st I put the last draft in the mail, and my advisor approved the project. While my actual degree came in the mail months later, the work was done; I had completed my master’s degree! It was clearly my inner commitment that started the ball rolling, and the courage to step into the opportunities that came my way that helped complete the success.
Goethe’s quote about commitment never ceases to impress me with its power. I hope these words inspire you to create your own success aligned with inner purpose.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elemental truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Sometimes two more steps are necessary to achieve the success you want (before you again have an opportunity to repeat the process).
Step Eight. Be willing to receive what it is you want. Many of us, consciously or unconsciously, feel undeserving of achieving success, for whatever reason. Check this out. If it is true for you, begin the shift. Notice the underlying feeling, (fear of success?) experience it, then let it go and replace the thought, combined with a new feeling, with a new one. Sorry; there is not an easier way. And, unfortunately, this too requires persistence. But worth it! You do deserve to achieve your goals, complete your vision, and have the success you want.
Step nine. Complete the process with some kind of personal reward or celebration. This outward expression formalizes the good work you just accomplished. It could be as simple as taking yourself out for a walk and reviewing the process with gratitude and self-appreciation. Or, what the heck, book that trip to Ireland that you always wanted to do!
Step ten. To cement the experience in a way that helps me move on, I end a process with gratitude. This helps me release the focus on myself, look outward and more toward assisting others, and step forward into new opportunities.
Based on these steps, you might say change is hard work. But when you are engaged in the moment, focused on the process and fully committed, it can feel effortless . . . and well worth the journey.