Over the past year, I have been witness to two different stages of the transformation process when it comes to changing someone’s way of living. Each person is someone I either work with or care deeply for, and so I have keenly observed what they were going through. What I have noticed was something I have spoke about previously on the blog regarding having to struggle as we shed old skins, in other words ways of doing things, in order to create a new and more wonderful life for ourselves.
Each stage is different and involves its own unique emotions, patterns and behaviors, but like the stages of grief, each stage is necessary to go through in order to emerge on the other side, in order to reach the much desired (and often needed) change. Now some people will stay in one particular stage longer than others and less at times in others. How this change occurs in their lives won’t look exactly like someone else’s, but the following six stages are certainly something to be aware of especially when you begin, so that you don’t become frustrated and throw your hands up walking away when you’ve made so much progress.
1. Ignorant of the Reality
The beginning of the process of making a lifestyle change often begins without our knowing it needs to take place. Most likely, others are noticing that something needs to change, but we are ignorant to this fact, or don’t want to listen. For some people this stage takes longer than others, but it similar to having a broken gas light in your car that alerts you when you are low on full. The fact is (whether you know it or not) you are about to run out of gas and be stranded if you don’t pull into the next gas station, but at the present moment because the car is running, it appears that everything is going just fine.
At this stage, you are aware that a change needs to occur and are beginning to mull over ideas on how to accomplish it. However, no action is occurring; therefore, nothing is getting done.
3. Becoming Resolute
No longer are you simply considering the idea of change, but you are more than convinced that something must be altered because you can no longer go on doing what you’ve always done – only getting three hours of sleep, refusing to exercise and eating poorly, or living like there are 48 hours in a day when unfortunately that number will always be stuck at 24.
Now that you know exactly what you want to change and accept that it is necessary in order to live a better life, the brainstorming begins. Once all the possible options are laid out on the table, a decision is made regarding the best plan for your personality and success in making sure the needed change becomes a reality. This will also include the preparation of supplies if you are going to need assistance – a healthy clear out of the fridge and restocking, or making an appointment with a personal trainer, or contacting your human resources department, just as examples. In other words, you become ready to take action.
5. Putting it into Play
Now you are doing what is necessary to move yourself closer to your goal of change. You are engaged and garnering the strength to say no to that extra serving, saying no to friends who want to hold you back because they don’t understand why you are choosing to change, saying no to a way of life that is not lifting you to your best potential but instead pulling you down.
6. Making it a Way of Life
The initial first few attempts will be exhilarating, not only because they are new, but also because the surprise of realizing you really can do what you’ve set out to do, will lift your spirits; however, it is continuing on even when that giddy energy dissipates that will ultimately cause the change to stick. Once you make it clear to others (whether through your actions or your words) that this change you are taking on isn’t a phase, they will either back off or support you. When this happens, it actually makes it easier for you to make the change a way of life because you are creating a culture around yourself that is getting to know the “new” you and slowly this change that you are seeking will no longer be new, but will be the new and improved you.
I will tell you this, many people don’t make it through the entire process, as I alluded to earlier. Many people assume that change can occur without too much effort, but once you realize that true, lasting and life-changing alterations take time and diligent perseverance, you will hopefully stay the course, navigating through each of the above six steps so that you can experience what exquisite experiences await.
Do this for yourself. Do this for a better life for those you care about, and most importantly, dig deep to find that inner strength that is needed to be successful. It’s there if you’re willing to look for it.