How to make a change and mean it

butterfly

Change is a comin’….How to get ready and mean it

“When you are trying to motivate yourself, first, appreciate the fact that you are even thinking about making a change and then as you move forward, allow yourself to be good enough.” Alice Domar

Is there something happening right now, in this moment that is making you aware that a change needs to happen sooner rather than later? Get out a piece of paper and a pen and let’s get to work on that change.

1)      Select a behavior or situation you genuinely want to change. This needs to be about you alone. It should not involve anyone else. Start to write about the change you want to make. Include every thought you have. No judgments.

2)      You should be able to track your progress. This can be done with a daily journal or on a calendar designated specifically for tracking this change or with the guidance of a helping professional.

3)      Your goal toward this change has to be real. Losing 30lbs. in 90 days is more of a fantasy than a resolute goal.

4)       Make friends with time. Create a vision board that outlines a 3 month plan, a 6 month plan and a one year plan. What would you like to have accomplished by each marker?

5)      The change has to be within your control as do the steps you take toward that change. If your desired change involves other people helping you then you lose a good portion of the control you need. Emotional support is all you will need from anyone. The rest is up to you.

6)      State your desired goal using positive language. Instead of saying what you want to change state how you will go about making your change; small steps you can do every day toward your desired outcome.*

“You have to speak your dream out loud.”– Kelly Corrigan

One year ago I was beyond fed up with the job I was in and wanted to make a career change. I was nervous because change in itself is not something I have ever been friends with but my need to get out of what I was doing was stronger than my fear of change. I quietly began to research where I might belong based on my likes and dislikes. I was still nervous at this point to tell anyone what I was thinking or feeling.

Once I saw myself in a career fit I went about writing down all the steps I would need to take to get me to where I wanted to be. I’ll admit that there were some steps I was against doing and afraid to do but I kept telling myself that anything worth having is worth working hard for. I didn’t put the pressure of a time frame on myself only in so far as I knew I didn’t want to wait to start. My emotional level toward making this change was very strong and very passionate.

I kept my passion level high and my determination level higher. The very first thing I needed to do was address the fear I was feeling around making this big change so I began by writing about why I wanted to make this career change. My “why” became my motto. The next thing I needed to do was to get important people in my life on board with my career change so that I had the emotional support I needed. I talked to my family about why I wanted to make this change. Hearing myself talk out loud was very important because it made the dream real and it got me the input and support I ultimately needed. I then had to deal with my inner critic who is a genius at always telling me that I was not good at making changes and that I was going to fail miserably. I kept asking myself, “so what?” until the fear became manageable and my inner critic had nothing left to throw at me. Once I started to feel strength toward my fear and my inner critic I knew I was ready to get started on my to-do list of steps toward my goal.

I worked those steps diligently and got a little thrill each time I got to check off an action step that I completed. Before I knew what was happening I had accomplished a lot more than I originally set out to do.

It is one year later and it has been quite an adventure. I had lots of encouragement along the way and lots of moments that could have brought me to my knees in defeat but I kept saying those two words, “so what” and in the end all the hard work was done by only me and I used my “disasters” as learning opportunities.

I can happily, powerfully and encouragingly say that I have accomplished most of the steps on my original to-do list and am working on a new list right now. I will never let my to-do list be empty. There are lingering steps I still need to take toward my original goal but I know without a doubt that I will get there and go beyond. As each to-do step was taken I could feel my confidence building and could feel how empowering those accomplishments made me feel. There are times even now when I feel impatient but I find that I am thoroughly enjoying the learning process and even more so enjoying all the new people in my life.

Recently I read an article written by a man who had gotten into a very bad car accident and died. He wrote the article from what he remembered of his death, what he thought about most of all at the moment he knew he died and of being brought back to life. It was a fascinating and surreal story; it gave me goose bumps. He left his reading audience with three questions that honestly, deeply resonated with me for which I now have made a permanent part of my wallpaper.  Whenever you are thinking about making a change, whether by choice or out of necessity keep these ideas with you as a guide post:

1)      Am I passionate? This speaks to all the reasons you do anything in your life. Are the things you do driven by passion toward your actions and goals?

2)      Am I productive? This speaks to how you get your passionate actions done. Are the steps you are taking toward your goal, toward what holds your interests, productive steps or wasting time kind of steps? Is there true purpose for your actions?

3)      Am I making a difference? This speaks to how what you do, what you want to do will impact others. We are all here to serve each other in some way. Even if your goal is to lose weight, how do you think your story will impact someone else? What difference will your weight loss make beyond your own health and well-being?  In most cases you will see that you are not alone in what you are going through. The difference is in the fact that it is you who is going through it and therefore your story should be shared.

“The defining characteristic of every successful person I have met? They have passion.” –Dr. Phil

*From the book, “Changeology” by Dr. John C. Norcross, PhD.

Lisa is a career and life coach. She has been featured in Parent Magazine and in the book, A Stay-At-Home Mom’s Guide to Making Money by Liz Folger. If you would like to explore how coaching can help you please write to lisa@journeyoncoaching.com to set up a free 30 minute coaching consultation.

“Fake it ’til you make it…”

fake it 001Whispers from my Wallpaper

 

          Fake it ‘til you make it….

Have you ever heard this phrase? What does it mean to you? I think it takes on different meanings depending on who is applying it. For me it calls to something deep inside, confidence and attitude. It asks me to challenge myself and dare to live “as if…”.

My oldest son is leaving home next month to test his independence and his self-confidence by moving far away from home, away from his safety net, his foundation, his comfort zone. As his mom it is hard for me to come to terms with his decision, but if I step back and put myself in his shoes I can almost taste the excitement of the adventure and feel the energy of ownership of making his own decisions, his own space, and his own time. Who among us doesn’t remember the feeling of wanting to take life into their own hands? He always imagined himself a leader, a doer. He is now faced with faking it ‘til he makes it; to dare and live “as if”; putting on the mask of the person he wants to one day become.

“The thing that is really hard and really amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” Anna Quindlen

And boy oh boy is it ever hard work to become yourself. Are you even there yet? Can you remember when you were little and dressing up for Halloween? The costume you chose, whether to be a superhero or a princess? Each costume came with a mask or make-up that allowed you to transform into the idea of who you wanted to be. Can you remember what you felt like once the mask and costume were in place? There was a sort of empowerment, ownership of this imagined you. Maybe grown-ups didn’t really believe who you were imagining yourself to be but you felt encouraged to go on and be your Batman self or your Little Mermaid self. You would never know that the grown-ups could see right through because they always greeted you as if you were the superhero or the princess. You were emotionally invested in the persona. Faking it at a young age gave you the freedom of your imagination and creativity to keep on putting on masks and trying them out as you got older. What stuck? What did you ultimately believe about yourself?

Emotions play a big role in all of our life pursuits. Emotions are our fuel. In his book, Happier, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar writes, “Emotions cause motion; they provide a motive that drives our actions; emotion, motion, motivation are intimately linked.” It is absolutely emotion that is driving my son to seek his independence and declare his abilities to himself and the world. Whenever I try to talk to him about this big step he gets emotional just trying to talk to me. It is emotion that drives the idea of “fake it ‘til you make it.” It is with emotion that we chose the costumes that we did when we were little. Emotion feeds our determination to conquer whatever we choose to do in life.

I have to wonder what his personal questions were:

1)      What motivates me to consider this move?

2)      What is the opportunity?

3)      Who do I need to be in order to become who I want to be?

The philosopher and founder of American Psychology, William James believed that  ”acting a certain way could make you feel that way.” In the thought processes of “fake it ‘til you make it” that is exactly the case. Hundreds of experiments have proved this theory correct. For example, a Clark University study showed that smiling, whether on purpose or naturally induced, made people feel happier. Try this experiment when you don’t really feel like smiling, smile wide and hold for 20 seconds. Take notice of how you feel during the experiment and at the end. Keep trying it and you will start to believe in the emotional effects of smiling.

Perhaps you are not taking a leap of faith and going out to conquer the world in the way my son has decided to do. Perhaps you are or will be a new college graduate and wondering what now? We live in tough economic times and finding a job in your field of study is not easy. You may and probably will have to take a job way outside of your degree in order to start paying back those student loans. Will you fake it ‘til you make it? Will you have the self-confidence and positive attitude to push forward no matter what? What mask will you choose to wear so that people outwardly will believe in who you are trying to become inwardly, but more so that you will start to believe in who you are trying to become? In every job experience you will have you will always need to ask yourself these questions:

1)      What gives my life a sense of purpose?

2)      What do I enjoy doing?

3)      What am I good at?

Answering these questions might guide you toward a calling or help you get through each phase of your life in general. Staying true to who you are and how you answer these questions will always lead you to doing good work. You might not yet know the answers to these questions because you are about to test them all out in the real world. Fake it ‘til you make it. Try on different masks and costumes until you find what fits.

DO smile always. People are attracted to smiling people.

DO stand up straight and tall and proud whether you feel like it or not. People will believe in your inner strength if they see it outwardly.

DO contribute where and when you can. Talk to people and be part of conversations. Make an effort to believe that you have something to say because you know what, you do have something to say, you do have worth and substance; you are enough.

DO know that you are not alone. There is a world full of people faking it until they make it; practicing to become the person they want to be.

DO know your own strengths. Take time to discover all the great success characteristics about yourself. It will empower you to smile more, stand taller and contribute endlessly.

DON’T hide in corners or find distractions like using your cell phone too often in social situations. Make people see that they matter to you and you will matter to them. People like to feel validated (and so do you).

DON’T gossip. Don’t tell tall tales and don’t talk about others behind their backs.

Dr. Ben-Shahar writes, “Happiness at whatever level, does not require a constant experience of ecstasy nor does it require an unbroken chain of positive emotions. To be happy, we have to feel that, on the whole, whatever sorrow, trials, and tribulations we may encounter, we still experience the joy of being alive.” There was pure joy in wearing those costumes so long ago. There can be joy in allowing life to be the teacher now. Putting on the fake it ‘til you make it mask has a more positive impact on the overall experience.  Despite feeling frustrated or let down by not getting that all important job in your field of study right away, smiling anyway, choosing to take each experience for all it’s worth goes a long way to help you and everyone around you believe that you are right where you should be. I know that my son will have no choice but to fake it ‘til he makes it because as far as the real world is concerned he is a newbie and at the same time doesn’t want his inexperience to shine brighter than his determination.

At the University of Rochester, researchers gave subjects an unsolvable problem. Those people that folded their arms in a stubborn pose persevered twice as long as the people that did not display any body language. A study in Singapore revealed that clenching your fist powers your willpower. Try some experiments to see if you can empower yourself to get through some tough moments.  Turn your have-to situations into want-to situations by readjusting your confidence and your attitude. Live “as if” this is exactly where you want to be, “as if” you are experiencing exactly what you hoped to experience. How we perceive the work we do, how we perceive the situations we are in matters more than the work or the situation. My son perceives his life’s journey to be in a different location from where he grew up, with different people surrounding him and influencing his perspective. He is approaching this with zest and humor and courage. What more could a mom ask for?

“Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

What thoughts will you produce? What actions will you take to make your moments uniquely you? Will you smile anyway, will you laugh anyway, and will you allow for gain in the experience? What words will you say to start living “as if…?” What about you will you allow to bear your signature? Fake it ‘til you make it and enjoy the ecstatic experience. Journey On…

 

If you would like to explore how coaching can help move your life forward powerfully and purposefully, email Lisa for a complimentary 30 minute coaching consultation at: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com

Journey On Coaching Services would like to extend condolences to the victims and their families of the tragic Boston Marathon Bombing. I encourage all my clients to give to the American Red Cross or any charity in support of a stronger, happier, healthier America.