Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Make a Positive Change for a Fulfilling Life

How to Make a Positive Change for a Fulfilling Life

Whether you find yourself facing redundancy or the loss of a loved one, stuck in a rut or unable to stay motivated, making a positive change is likely to feature in the things you’re going to need to do to feel happy and successful again.

However, it can be easier said than done.

In this article, I will share with you how I helped my clients to change their lives and tips for you how to make a positive change for a fulfilling life.

From Losing Control to Radiating Happiness

They sat opposite me and didn’t just look dejected, they looked like the world had caved in on them and was likely to stop their heart with the effort of living. Everything felt wrong and seemed wrong. How could they move on from that?

This client had come to me because they felt like they’d lost all control over their life and it didn’t matter what they did, how they acted or who they spent time with, everything seemed to go wrong. When that is how life is, how do you make changes then?

Why should you even bother? This is exactly how the client had been feeling with the “what’s the point?” feelings. The point of change is that although it can feel tough and difficult to even get started, let alone keep up the changes you’ve made.

Change is something we can learn to do organically to live the life we want to, and feeling the way we want to. When we feel good somehow, we feel stronger and more capable like we can tackle anything.

Wind on 6 months and this client doesn’t just smile when they walk in, they radiate sunbeams and happiness. It’s almost like a different person is before me. And they’ve not just gained a smile and got rid of “the world hates me” look about them, they’ve “magically” found they are earning more money and attracting opportunities that hadn’t seem imaginable, let alone possible 6 months before.

What happened? How did they do that? No, we didn’t bring anyone back to life or help them win the lottery.

I want to share with you the tools and techniques we used. Before I do that we need to look at why we need to change.

Advertising

Why Change Is Necessary for Everyone

Like many things in life, the need to bring about change rarely happens overnight. It takes something like a Eureka moment, a coach or an accident for us to really look at ourselves and realize that something needs to change.

We don’t wake up one day mega stressed and feeling like life is like climbing a mountain of sand in heels, with our hands tied behind our back. These things gradually descend upon us until we start to suffer the results. It is often the results that we notice first and not the need for change.

Signs You Need Some Change

Here’s some signs your life needs some change:

  • Can’t get to sleep or can’t stay awake.
  • Can’t concentrate on a book.
  • You spend too long on social media scrolling through stuff you’ve already looked at.
  • Can’t focus your mind on work or study.
  • Lack interest in further learning or hobbies.
  • Gained some weird rash, random pains or headaches.
  • Eating too much or lost your appetite.
  • Steering clear of friends and family.
  • Snapping or moaning all the time.

All classic “My life needs some changes” results. What is worse, all the above damage your health, your career, your relationships, your earning potential, your happiness, your contentment and your life in general.

Perks of Making a Positive Change

Ever noticed that person that seems permanently happy and in a good mood? They aren’t necessarily the person with the biggest bank account and yet somehow, they exude true happiness. They are highly likely to be a person that is in touch with what they need so that they can be like that.

To really excite you about change and its potential for overhauling your life, here are some of the results I’ve seen with clients through change:

  • Higher earnings.
  • Stop fearing what people think of them.
  • Stop trying to please everyone and put themselves at the top of the importance list.
  • More confidence.
  • Happier.
  • Healthier.
  • New relationships.
  • New careers.
  • Overcome lifelong fears like the fear of public speaking.
  • Stood up for what they believed in.
  • Overcome shyness.
  • Better at sales.
  • Business growth.
  • Overcome agoraphobia.

To say the list is extensive would be an understatement, although I have coached thousands so I really believe in what I share here.

Let’s look at how you can create positive change in your life.

How to Prepare Your Mind for the Change

Feel the Pain

One of the reasons we don’t create positive change in our life is because we don’t have a big enough desire to do it. Before you do anything else, feel the pain of the way things are for you right now on a level that makes you physically want to squirm in your seat.

When I do this with clients, I lay it on thick. For instance, when a client told me that they want financial freedom, they talked about their over enthusiastic love of the credit cards. I picked up a note and a credit card and through them in the air joking “Fly free my pretties, fly free!” the client was highly embarrassed (as you would be with someone throwing money around a desk) but when the credit card landed on their notepad, they flicked it away.

Advertising

I asked them if they felt the credit card was dangerous or something? And they were able to feel the full pain that the credit card was bringing to their lives and their families. Together we could see that the credit card was a symbol of all of the emotions and negative feelings that they hated in their lives. When they left, they made a point of saying they were going to leave a credit card on the side in their home to remind them powerfully why things had to change.

Imagine every aspect of the pain so that it makes you feel miserable and every other bad emotion that hides in your mind.

Feel the Pleasure

Once you’ve felt the pain and realize powerfully why you want to get away from it, now consider the opposite emotions.

If you want to be financially free, what does that look like? How does it feel? You could concentrate on the car and home you will own, however in my experience that is harder to powerfully visualize than emotions are. You see when you get accomplished at this, you are able to change your emotion and feelings in less than a second because you appreciate why you need to and the damage of not doing so. Therefore if you can really feel the emotions, this can help you stay on track when you have a new plan for change.

I find that for most clients, this exercise is best done last thing at night as you drift off to sleep:

  • It stops you from stressing about everything that is going on in life.
  • You are ending your day with a surge of positive emotions
  • You give your mind clear ideas on what to work on.

I honestly believe that creating space in our brain enables us to get answers that we’ve been struggling to find. It’s almost like asking a giant computer to create the formula for success, and your job is to recharge your mind and body while the computer gets on with it. That may sound daft, however I’ve seen astonishing things achieved by clients that have asked the question, worked out what they wanted and gone off to Sleeplyland.

Feel the pleasure of what you wish to achieve on a level that makes you grin. You remember the excitement and happiness you felt on Christmas Eve as a child? The level of energy that felt like it was going to burst out of you? That is how feeling the pleasure of change should feel. No need to work out why, how, where or with whom. Just think about the way you want to feel.

Feel the Fear

We can’t move forward without accepting that change can bring fear. My book Fight the Fear – How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life helps people to deal with 12 of the top fears that impact on success — whether it’s the fear that you can’t really change, or that you will never have the confidence to say or do that, or the fear that you set the wrong goals or worry constantly about what other people think.

Many fears hide, lurking in our way just as we aim to change. By feeling the fear and understanding how it impacts on you, you can make a decision to do something about it. Fear is the result of a lack of confidence and confidence comes from doing. The irony is (and what stops positive change) is that we are scared to do something different and so stay stuck in the place we are with the results we get.

Here are 5 ideas to help you fight the fear:

Advertising

Know Why You Are Awesome

We often have plenty of proof that says we rock but we are unlikely to pay attention to that when fear of change is encroaching upon us. I call it the head to heart disparity.

Appreciating why you are awesome and all the things you have achieved enables you to ignore the heart’s noisy “you can’t do it” attitude to hear the facts that the head holds on to.

Lean on Someone

Whether people do this deliberately from a place of love or spite, or whether they are unaware of the damage they are causing to your confidence and thus, helping to reinforce fear; the wrong people will keep you fearful and stuck.

There are many reasons for this – they don’t want you to fail and be sad, they don’t want you to be different, they don’t want you to look better than them, it’s a long list.

Your job is not to change their minds, it’s to find the right people to help you. They don’t ever have to say a word about what you aim to do, just be the positive, “can do” people that will help you stay on track.

Love Failure

Failure is good for us. At the time it doesn’t feel like it, it can feel more like we were not just the last in the running race at schools sports day but like we are the biggest loser on the planet. Don’t let that happen.

Accept that through failure, you learn. By learning what went wrong, you have powerful information to help you move forward. One failure doesn’t make a life of ineptitude.

Understand and Accept That Fear Can Be Fixed in 2 Ways

Some fears I can fix for a client in an hour, because it is about dealing with their mindset, others need a little longer because the client also has to learn new skills.

Skill set and mindset are the key to fighting fears that stop change. What skills do you need?

Take Action

Fear hates action. It’s very happy when you do nothing, divert your eyes from the fear and feel stuck and out of control. That makes fear smile.

Advertising

Fear hates it when you get a plan. When you get a plan, it won’t always go right. Fear will try and be a noisy voice in your head that says “ha ha, I told you that wouldn’t work.” Ignore it! At the start, it doesn’t matter a great deal what action you take, just that you take action.

Remember to ask yourself, “how will I shut up fear when it tries to keep me here?”

3 Essential Steps to Start Making the Change You Want

Lastly here are the steps I’d take to make change:

1. Know What Fears and Obstacles You Could Experience

List them – for me this is always in a mindmap. It can be visual or a list. Knowing your natural style can be powerful for other things you aim to achieve in the future.

2. Ignore the Rules

When we say we are looking to change, we can often feel like it’s a good idea to look at what everyone else is doing. Only get your ideas from inside you. One of the reasons change is so hard is because we try to do it like other people. You are not them and they are not you.

Learn to know your values, loves, beliefs and how they fit into your way of change. If you find yourself comparing yourself with your friends, peers and family, you are not working according to the most powerful way, which is your way.

3. Challenge Your Thoughts

Thoughts can sneak into your head and before you know it, you are the one damaging your chances of success. What thoughts do you have connected to this change?

For instance, I had a client advise me that they felt our plan of action we had created was going to be hard work. On exploring this, the client admitted that everything they had achieved had just “fallen in their lap” and they “were allergic to hard work”. How likely were they to succeed if they felt it was going to be hard?

Be mindful of the way you word your change and actions. For example, instead of saying “this is going to be hard work”, say “this is the next stage in my life and I’m excited to get on with it.” (And yes it did work for this client!)

Final Thoughts

The personal and professional development industry is worth billions. That’s because while we may know what needs to happen, we often want a magic pill or something that will make it happen instantaneously. Anything you truly want in life takes effort, a change in thought and time. So if you don’t create the space to think about it, how will you create the space to actually do it?

Change is powerful and change is natural but, it does take some effort on your part. Nothing in nature is ever the same. Follow this plan and you could create the understanding of yourself, the plan of action and the results you want.

More Tips About Making Changes in Life

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

More by this author

Mandie Holgate

Coach, International BEST Selling Author, Speaker & Blogger helping thousands around the world.

Motion vs Action: Which One Is More Important for Success? 9 Most Essential Leadership Attributes of a Great Leader What Is Self Efficacy and How to Improve Yours How to Make a Positive Change for a Fulfilling Life 13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride

Trending in Mental Strength

1 Positive and Negative Reinforcement: Which Is More Effective? 2 13 Reasons Why You Should Fail Fast to Learn Fast 3 10 Things to Do If You’re Feeling Hopeless About Your Future 4 5 Ways to Help Yourself Advance Your Mental Strength 5 Feeling Like a Failure? 10 Simple Things to Help You Rise Again

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 3, 2020

Positive and Negative Reinforcement: Which Is More Effective?

Positive and Negative Reinforcement: Which Is More Effective?

It has been said that rarely am I short of words, and yet I’ve rewritten this article on positive and negative reinforcement five times. Why?

It’s not as if I have a lack of thoughts on this subject. It’s not as if I don’t spend my days enabling people to communicate powerfully and get what they want in life. So why the rewrites?

I’ve found myself thinking about the diversity of people I’ve coached and how different we all can be. Usually when I write for Lifehack, I’m able to see instant commonality in the subject that means I could share some ideas that would resonate wherever you are in life, whoever you are, regardless of what you were looking to achieve or what adversity you may be facing.

However, with this, it’s a “How long’s a piece of string?” answer, i.e. I could probably write a whole book’s worth of words and still have ideas to share.

Let’s look at some key points:

  • You will have times in your life where you need to get someone to do something.
  • You will have times when someone needs you to do something.

Let’s look at how positive and negative reinforcement would work. In both of these situations, you can face some big obstacles:

  • Someone may resist your desire for them to change.
  • Someone may challenge your authority or leadership.
  • Someone may be at risk of getting hurt.

The important thing to remember is that, in life, we all have to be influenced and influence those around us, and some ways will help us get the result we want, and others won’t. However, that may differ on where you are, who you are talking to, and what you want to see happen!

So, how do we know when positive reinforcement is effective[1], and can there ever be a time when negative reinforcement is good?

Worryingly, if you get positive and negative reinforcement wrong, you can risk your career, your business, your relationships, your reputation, and your brand.

Positive and negative reinforcement each have their merits, so it’s imperative to know when to employ them. Interestingly, despite a ton of evidence to the contrary, we still rely on the wrongs ones in society, business, and even in parenting.

Advertising

The 4 examples below showcase the use of positive and negative reinforcement, and whether they personally apply to you right now or not, they will resonate and be very useful to you personally in every area of your life.

For each we will look at:

  1. What’s the problem?
  2. What have you tried?
  3. Now what?
  4. The results!

The Boss

Okay, you may not be a boss, but everyone will have times in their life where they need to get people organized and working together to get the best result. Often, leaders say things like this to me:

  • “I’ve told them until I’m blue in the face not to do that!”
  • “They constantly refuse to use the new system.”
  • “They just don’t listen.”
  • “They don’t respect me.”

What Did the Boss Try?

Often, I hear “We’ve tried everything!” No matter who is reading this, trust me, you’ve not tried everything. (That’s the first thing to accept.) When you accept that, you then need to look at what you have tried to move forward.

The boss has tried:

  • Giving the person training.
  • Spending time with them and showing them how to do it.
  • Telling them it wasn’t good enough.
  • Telling them we aren’t doing that any more.

Now What?

The above situations create tension between the two as you constantly battle to maintain your position on the situation. If you are looking to get someone to do something, and they constantly resist, you need to stop and ask yourself some questions:

  1. What have we tried? This helps you to understand what they are good at, so you can utilize that in the conversation.
  2. From their viewpoint, what could prevent them from doing what I’ve asked? What could they fear, and how will we allay those fears?
  3. What do they want? Seeing their viewpoint enables you to use their terminology and language so they feel listened to.
  4. What do they believe? Do their beliefs prevent them from seeing the benefits? Beliefs can be changed but not by force—coaching is very powerful for this.
  5. How do these answers differ from my beliefs and views? Bridging the gap helps you to see both views and communicate more powerfully.

In my experience, rarely does a boss or leader need to say the word “No.” If someone is not doing what you want them to, the quickest way to see results is to ask questions and listen. Often, when you really listen, you discover a big gap between what you think you are saying and what the other person is hearing.

The reasons why someone is not doing what you want can include:

  • They don’t know how to do what you’ve asked them to do.
  • They are scared to get it wrong.
  • They fear what people will think of them.
  • They don’t have the confidence to come and tell you they need help.
  • They are scared that someone will tell them off.
  • They don’t understand where the boundaries are.

People tell me, “But I said that to them!” If you are too close to the situation, then how likely are they to take notice from you? Here’s what you can do:

  • Get out of your usual environment – Neutral environments make difficult conversations easier. They can take you both off your guard, which can be good.
  • Start by making that person feel safe to say anything. Start with ground rules like “This is a confidential conversation” and “I won’t make any judgement on what you say, I just want to understand.”
  • Be prepared to say “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t realize.” When you do this, positive and negative reinforcement can be used.

Learning how to coach people instead of tell people is key. Enabling the other person to see the benefits of what you want for them (and not you) is quicker than trying to dictate action.

Advertising

  • Lay out expected outcomes.
  • Create boundaries.
  • Explain what support and help you will provide.

The Results

This style of reinforcement is about utilizing both positive and negative reinforcement. It enables someone to feel safe to explain why they’ve not been taking action and helps them to overcome the limitations they feel while safe in the knowledge that they will get the support to change with the positive results explained in a way that matters to them.

The Young Child

If you’ve ever found yourself on the wrong end of a relentless tantrum of a small child, you will know it can feel impossible to get through to them. While many elements of The Boss scenario could work, there are times where you may need some negative reinforcement.

What’s the Problem?

My children are now 15 and 18. I can honestly say that, while we have had some challenging behaviors, our parenting means I have two children I’m very proud of–great communicators, great work ethic, kind, funny, considerate. The point is that, for my children, this stuff works. And, to be honest, when I’m with other people’s children, they often say “How did you get them to do that!”

Young children are amazing. It’s like they’ve just woken up in a new body and have been told to go touch, feel, experience everything–every emotion, every taste, smell, experience, texture, the lot! They are curious and keen to know more. They sap up everything, and a lot of that we don’t want them sapping up!

When they go to put a pencil in an electric socket, or let go of your hand as you cross the road, it’s imperative they get the learning and knowledge they need fast. I once was talking to a parent that said I was wrong to say no to my children. I asked, “At what age would you like me to introduce them to that word?” to which they had no answer.

While I agree that there are usually a lot more words than just no for children, “no” is a word that kept you and I safe when we were small.

What Have You Tried?

While young children are incredibly intelligent, explaining the merits of your preferred course of action is not going to keep them safe. Tying them to your waist isn’t working. Punishing them and telling them there’s no more park time until you walk next to me doesn’t work either. So how do you say no and keep them safe?

Now What?

Sometimes negative reinforcement is essential[2]. For instance, my son (who adored Bob the Builder when he was little) was playing with his plastic tool kit and discovered an electric socket…I didn’t stop to explain the merits of how that could be dangerous. I said calmly, “No, that’s dangerous!”

Here’s the important point: It’s not just about your words. With young children, it’s important that your body language clearly says the same.

The Results

I did feel like the luckiest parent on the planet to have two children sleeping through the night, but that didn’t tell the full story. I can remember spending a few weeks calmly picking my daughter up with no eye contact, no overly big hug, no conversation, just saying, “Sorry darling but now’s bedtime, so back we go.” And yes, being the strong-willed girl that she is, there was sometimes a good hour of that until she got the message that Mum really isn’t going to play, turn into a dinosaur, sing, or read a story.

Advertising

The thing with positive and negative reinforcement is that you need to have faith it will work, and you are doing the right thing.

Of course, when I went in to get her from her cot the next morning, I had a big grin on my face that said, “Wow, what a grown up girl you are staying in your bed all night!” I used positive reinforcement to get the day started.

The Teenager

What’s the Problem?

If I’m honest, I don’t have problems with my teenagers. However, I think that is in no small part to my style of communication. Having respect for them is key, and appreciating how much change is happening in their lives really helps–as someone who helps large teams of people deal with change, I know how hard it can be.

However, when I wrote the article How to Enjoy Parenting Teens and Help Your Kids Thrive, I was inundated with stories of hellish behavior from other parent’s teenagers, tales of staying out all night and not phoning home, abusive behavior towards parents and teens–I really felt for all involved.

What Have You Tried?

The problem with teens is they know exactly how to wind you up like a little clock-work toy. And if you’ve had a tough day, the last thing you want is to have to deal with someone who can’t even communicate with words, let alone put their dishes in the dishwasher.

Losing it is never the option, but it can easily happen. Shouting, bribery, and doing it yourself because it’s just easier really don’t work in the long run.

Now What?

If you consider everything we’ve covered, you can see that you need to communicate using positive and negative reinforcement. In life, there are consequences to all actions, and teens have a ton of stuff to learn to become effective, successful, happy adults.

Before you embark on any course of action, consider how the other person perceives the world. What are they going through?

You may have loved being a teen, but that doesn’t ensure your children will. Likewise, in life, there are things you love that others will loathe–seeing the world through other people’s eyes really helps you to understand the best way to communicate.

The only big difference for teenagers is to use emotion with caution. I personally let my children see all emotions–I’ve not hidden my tears when I’ve lost a loved one as it’s a perfectly normal thing to do. However, if a teenager in a foul mood can spot a weakness, they may just take advantage of it.

Advertising

The Results

My kids love to tell everyone I’m a scary mom. I’m not, I just have high standards, and I’m not prepared to drop them.

We shy away from telling people what we expect and then wonder why we are getting as stressed as the other party because no one knows where they stand.

I’m happy for my children to take over the TV room and eat far too much sweet stuff and binge on a box set. Just don’t put cups on the carpet, we have places for drinks. It’s having the confidence to say this is the rule.

People think negative reinforcement is a bad thing. However, how can someone change if they don’t know what they are doing wrong? And that’s the issue: so many of us are fearful of saying “Stop doing that!” If you lack confidence, find your voice because people aren’t mind-readers.

Final Thoughts

Before you start considering whether positive or negative reinforcement is best for others, ask yourself what you respond better to.

Personally, I respond far better to negative reinforcement–I can improve and be more successful and happier if I know what I’m doing wrong. Furthermore, I know that sometimes negative reinforcement works better with some clients who really don’t want to look at the issue–but it’s always done with respect and love.

Coaching people is also a great representation of when positive and negative reinforcement is best. We are looking to find ways to increase the positive action with positive reinforcement and ways to reduce the negative results with negative reinforcement–and usually my clients keep those changes for the rest of their lives.

More on Positive and Negative Reinforcement

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next