The Cycle of Change

“By changing nothing, nothing changes.”

– Tony Robbins

There are many ways we would like to change our lives.  From the everyday habits we would like to introduce or tweak to the all-encompassing power goals that could bring total transformation. 

Either way, we tend to put more weight on making a change than is necessary or we simply ignore or bury it deep. 

Take your weight as an example, it’s super easy to slowly gain weight, indulge in those extra treats and drinks and then a few times a year we are reminded of the situation, most likely a holiday, special event, or a ‘suddenly’ ill-fitting garment which shifts us round the cycle of change faster than we could say ‘one more slice would be so nice’. 

Not thinking about it, worrying about it, finding a quick solution, losing some weight, keeping it off till the event, then putting the weight back on again!

Change in our minds is a cycle of stages. Some, where we are either totally (or deliberately) oblivious to the change required or others where we are engaged and processing making the change happen.

Let’s break down the cycle taking the example of someone in a career that they don’t feel passionately about.

Pre-contemplation is when you are getting on with your life, waking up each morning almost robotically, getting to work, doing what is expected of you and focusing your energy on the little time you have outside of that job to find some fulfilment in your life whether that be quality time with family and friends or binge-watching the next title in your Netflix list.  Some of this makes us happy but also it is partly a distraction.

In this stage, it may not be on your radar at all to make a change, you may have a feeling of uneasiness at times, you may even be aware that the job doesn’t exactly light you up but it pays the bills, it’s not that bad, you have some good work mates and when you are busy time can fly by.  And let’s not forget you have been told your whole life that this is how the world works so be grateful you have a job!  So, you are stuck without really knowing it.

If these feelings grow or play on your mind more, you enter the Contemplation stage.  This is where you may have very mixed feelings about a certain aspect of your life.  You are now aware that you spend an awful amount of time at your job and you don’t really enjoy it.  That the small amount of free time you have to do what you want isn’t really countering the huge amount of time at work.  Perhaps each new project, role, job or promotion just doesn’t bring the sustained rewarding feeling you thought it would.  But you are unsure of change, it is scary and unknown, and you are mentally very attached to your current situation.  You can’t quite see a way out and you are sceptical of opportunities that may come your way.

But you are problem aware now, you have had mixed feelings about making a change, but you can’t unsee this now, you may find yourself thinking about how you could make a change hypothetically or maybe even practically.  You are in Preparation and start asking yourself questions such as, ‘What are my hopes and dreams?’, ‘What else could I do?’ and ‘How can I make a change without affecting my income?’ 

You are daydreaming, you are wondering, and you are starting to believe.

Through the preparation stage you are priming yourself for the next step. 

The Action stage is all about making the change, but it doesn’t have to be extreme or overwhelming going 0-60 in record time by leaving your job and taking a punt on some get rich quick scheme, it will most likely be incremental.

You start actively seeking information, checking out options, watching relatable content and maybe speaking to close ones about it.  You are solution aware; you know what you would like from life, more time, money and fulfilment and you are open to possibilities. 

And the amazing thing is when you are in the action stage, things start to happen because you are clearer about what you want, you are putting yourself out there and you are learning about and exposing yourself to other careers, jobs, programmes, products, services and opportunities you didn’t even know existed.

Change perpetuates change and it can be an exhilarating ride!

The next stage is Maintenance and it is hopefully the longest stage in the cycle, it is where you have implemented some changes and you are keeping them going.  Whether that be continuing to look at further options, joining a programme or starting your own business.  It is about taking action every day and cementing those changes into your life. 

You are forming habits, transforming your life and have accepted the new you!

The final stage of the cycle is split between lapse and relapse.  A Lapse is a temporary breach of your change process. For example, you have a sudden loss of confidence in making this change and you decide it’s too hard to make your dreams a reality, so you pause your research, pause your course, pause your business.  But it is completely changeable, and you can press that play button and carry on, perhaps even more motivated than before.

A Relapse is when your change process goes backward or reverts back to old habits for a sustained period, it does not mean that you can’t be proud of all that you have achieved to that point and it certainly does not mean all is lost but it can mean you have found yourself in a place where you are re-engaging with your previous patterns and have given up on your dreams. 

This stage can occur for many reasons, perhaps your side hustle isn’t making any money, your first business fails, or you have a lack of belief because people around you are being negative. 

Whatever the reason the buck will always stop with you, you can walk back to the unfulfilling life you tried to escape or you can dust yourself off and work your way around the cycle again back to Maintenance, this time with more knowledge, experience and motivation to succeed.

The hardest step is the mental shift to change. 

Embrace change in your life and create the future of your dreams.

Believe in Plan B

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