5 Strategies for Lasting Change

“Be the change you wish to see.” Mahatma Gandhi

In the last issue of Along The Purpose Path I told the story of a client who’s been working to make a change in her life. She wants to grow her business while at the same time, decrease her stress level and increase how much she enjoys herself. She’s not alone.

My client’s breakthrough began when she made a mental shift from a state of striving to state of thriving.

What seems to make the difference between those who thrive versus those who strive comes down to the willingness to identify what is and isn’t working in life; and then making the appropriate changes. Yet, studies indicate that most – over three-quarters of us – fail to follow through on the changes we set out to make.

The reality is change is difficult for just about everyone. Those who do manage to follow though on life changes aren’t simply lucky. Instead, they’ve mastered the skills to not only make change easier, but also to make their changes sustainable over time.

It’s a cliché that bears repeating. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Change happens one step at a time. The most effective change a person can make is when it’s taken in small increments. People often get stopped because they don’t shift their focus from the big picture long enough to effectively plan.  When you don’t have a solid plan, and support for your plan, it’s easy to get bumped off course and become disillusioned.

The good news is every time you successfully implement a change, small or large, your life gets better. Success builds new evidence that change is possible. It spreads confidence and a sense of achievement throughout your life.

It’s New Years Resolution season. It seems there’s something magical about new beginnings that inspires most of us to reexamine our lives, renew our commitment to a goal or resolve to make changes. Some of us aim even higher toward a complete reinvention of our selves.

As a Coach, I earn my living by helping people make changes in their personal and professional lives. So it won’t surprise you to hear me suggest these five strategies you can begin using to make changes, stop striving and begin thriving in the year ahead.

1. Identify the “gap”

A “gap” represents the difference between where you are currently and where you want to be. An example of a gap might be: I want to be exercising regularly but I’m currently not exercising at all. Or I want to start my own home business and I’m currently employed. There can be small gaps or there can be big gaps.

Having the life you want is really a matter of identifying and closing your gaps. This perspective can reduce the feelings of overwhelm. Instead of looking at life as one huge problem, you begin to see a series of gaps that needs filling one at a time.

Once you identify your gaps, you have a road map to follow.

2. Reveal and disqualify the disempowering beliefs that energize your gap

Now that you have identified your gaps you can begin to close them.

At the heart of every gap is an underlying belief or story that is limiting. It’s necessary to flush out these disempowering beliefs that may get in your way of closing the gap. Usually, these beliefs are transparent to us, and we aren’t aware of how powerfully and pervasively they operate to control our choices.  When you shine the light of awareness on these beliefs, they’re neutralized, and you’re able to make more empowered choices in closing your gap.

Let’s play with examples. What might be a disempowering belief behind my exercise example? What thoughts or stories might be transparently shaping your inability to stick to an exercise program?

  1. I can’t follow through anything.
  2. Exercise is hard and I hate it
  3. There’s not enough time

Once the limiting thought is revealed, now what?

3. Build a positive case for yourself

After revealing the belief, it’s important that you find out what’s true about you and your life. You need to inquire to discover if your beliefs are real obstacles or if they’re just a product of old thought patterns.

Go back to the exercise example. “I don’t follow through on anything.” Is that true? Can you find examples of where you have followed through on something? If so, make a list that disqualifies this particular belief.

This process will help you build a more positive case for your own success, and when you notice yourself slipping into the old thought pattern, you can shift to what’s true something more true and much more positive. It’s really a matter of building new thinking habits and practicing them.

When you get to the truth, you feel better. In the example, all the energy tied up in resisting exercise can now go into exercising.

4. Make a plan and take action

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. All the inspiration and awareness will only go so far. Who hasn’t had the experience where you get inspired about something and go off to accomplish it only to lose steam and give up on your dream or project?

That’s where having a solid plan comes in, an action plan. Write out the steps of your plan. Be specific.

An important part of designing a successful action plan is building an accountability structure. When you’re accountable to specifics or someone else you have a better chance of following through with what you say you want.

This brings us to the last step.

5. Create a circle of support

We all need support. Often the difference between getting successful results and not, depends on how well supported you are.

I was just working with a client who wanted to introduce a new routine into her life. She questioned her ability to stick to it. When I asked her what in the past helped her stay on track with something new she said, “Telling someone my plan made me more accountable. By speaking my intention out loud made it harder to just blow it off”. Then I asked her whom she would tell about her new plan. She decided to tell her husband and use him for her accountability. You could take it a step further and ask the person to periodically check in with you how you are doing with your commitment. Now, that’s support.

A circle of support can mean a lot of different things. It can be your partner, your best friend, colleagues at work, or your family. Meaningful support can be any or all of these people, the more support you have the better. The only critical distinction is that you are supported for YOUR agenda, not the supporters.

Establishing and calling on your “circle of support” will help you sustain yourself through all of life through challenging times and through great times.

Why not give this strategy a try. Begin to thrive in your life. I’d love to hear your thoughts, feedback and successes.

It’s YOUR life…imagine the possibilities!

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