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Last Updated on May 8, 2019

9 Ways to Prepare for Change and Live Your Dream Life

9 Ways to Prepare for Change and Live Your Dream Life

Every year, many of us may have launched initiatives for change in the form of resolutions. We often feel inspired to reflect, look back, and take stock of our lives, deciding what is working for us, and what isn’t.

The changes we seek may be relatively small or short-term, such as losing those holiday love handles or decluttering the garage. We may also feel a strong desire or need for more profound, long-term transformation in the form of a career change, quitting long-term habit, or moving to a new town.

Whether we deliberately pursue personal transformation and growth or have it thrust upon us, we can greatly improve our chances of achieving success by preparing for the changes we seek.

In this article, we will look into 9 ways to prepare for change. These tips will help you navigate transitions both small and large, and set you firmly on the path toward the life of your dreams.[1]

1. Understand the Logical Levels of Change

It’s important to understand how change actually works so you know what to expect during the process.

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), we use the Five Logical Levels to understand what’s involved in making personal change. This is a simple model that gives five useful windows through which to view any issue.[2]

Here’s a quick breakdown of the five Logical Levels:

  1. Identity – Who are you? What roles do you play in your life?
  2. Beliefs – Why do you do what you do? What are your values and beliefs?
  3. Capabilities – How do you do things? What are your skills and strategies?
  4. Behaviors – What are you doing? What are your current behaviors?
  5. Environment – Where, when and with whom are you displaying your behaviors?

Changes and factors at each level impact those above and below it to a greater or lesser degree. For example, changing your environment may affect the levels above it, but altering a belief you hold will most certainly influence the levels below it.

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To shift a behavior, which is the level we typically target when we resolve to ‘make a change’ in our lives, we often need to become aware of and adjust our underlying beliefs and sense of self, build our capabilities to include new skills, and possibly support the shift by changing our environment.

Let’s use an example to walk through each level; you’re unhappy in your current career as a Chartered Accountant, and have decided to go back to school to retrain as a Registered Massage Therapist.

  • Identity – is your purpose to be happy and fulfilled, or to be the successful bread-winner of your family?
  • Beliefs – do you value helping others? How much do you value income and status vs. happiness and satisfaction? Do you believe you are capable of making the necessary changes?
  • Capabilities – how will you gain the skills you need to become a massage therapist? What training will you need? What soft skills will you need that you don’t currently have (i.e. communication, making people feel at ease)? Are you willing to do what it takes to obtain these new capabilities?
  • Behaviors – aside from physically leaving your current job, what other behaviors might need to change? Will you need to cut down on luxuries to afford the transition? Are your beliefs in line with the changes you will need to make?
  • Environment – does your current environment support the necessary changes (i.e. your spouse, boss)? Will you be able to study and work in your current situation, or will you need to move? When is the best time to make the transition?

2. Get Clear on Your Desired Outcome

Take the time to clearly define exactly what it is you want to accomplish with the change in terms of what it will look like, when you want it to happen, how long you want it to take, and a basic outline of how you will accomplish it.

This is particularly important for those who like to jump right in once they’ve made a decision; enthusiasm is wonderful and will serve you well, but you also need a clear path and solid understanding of what it is you want.

3. Create a Pros and Cons List

It’s inevitable that with big change comes fear and doubt. Even when we know a particular decision is right for us and will benefit us in the long-term, we may feel a pull back to the familiar and comforting behaviors, habits, jobs and situations we are attempting to leave behind.

Make a list of the reasons you want to change. What are the deeper desires behind your decision? What specific positive outcomes will you experience as a result of your change? And finally, what are the negative consequences of NOT changing?

Create a detailed list of your answers to these questions, and post them where you will be able to review them often. When doubt creeps in, or when your motivation lags, your list will serve as an encouraging reminder of why you’re doing all this in the first place.

4. Imagine the Outcome

In NLP, we refer to this important step in accomplishing any chosen goal or outcome as Future Pacing. Simply put, you imagine and visualize the end result of the change you are making.

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This step accomplishes two important things:

One, you now have a richly imagined successful future outcome as positive motivation on your journey; and two, from your imagined place of success, you can then ask yourself how you got there, creatively envisioning overcoming any obstacles and challenges from a place of guaranteed achievement.

Richly visualizing the life you will experience after you have accomplished your goals as a daily exercise is also a great way to practice manifesting your reality.

5. Ecology Check

Another NLP term, an ecology check is simply holding your envisioned end result up to the microscope of inquiry:

  • What possible obstacles or conflicts may arise?
  • What mindsets, habits or behaviors might sabotage your efforts?
  • How will achieving your desired change affect others in your life (family, friends)?
  • Are there any sacrifices you will need to make? Are you ready to make them?
  • How will your life need to change in order for you to achieve your end result?
  • Is the end result aligned with your core values and beliefs?

Asking yourself these important questions before you embark on a significant life change can save you time, effort and heartache, and allow you to make any necessary adjustments ahead of time.

6. Build Your Assets

Make a list of any assets you currently have, such as money and other resources, skills, training, talents and supportive individuals.

Now make a list of those assets, you still need to acquire in order to successfully accomplish the change before you, including things like adopting new mindsets and behaviors, training and education, mentorship, and physical assets such as living and working spaces, loans or transportation.

Make a plan for how you will obtain any skill or resources that are currently lacking.

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7. Create Contingency Plans for Possible Obstacles

Once you’ve envisioned your desired future outcome, and scrutinized it for possible challenges and obstacles, you can come up with plans for those possibilities.

You don’t have to go into too much detail; just decide ahead of time how you might handle the bumps in the road should they arise.

For instance, if you anticipate resistance to your life decision from those around you, you might prepare a short and punchy answer to the question of why you’re doing it.

8. Create an Action Plan

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when we are facing big life changes, even those we choose and want. Any worthwhile life change involves letting go of familiarity and stepping outside our comfort zones, and this can be a frightening experience.

Having a clearly defined action plan will not only help you stay on track with your progress, but also provide you with reassuring structure in the midst of what may at times feel like chaos.

When you formulate your plan, be sure to chunk it down into manageable, preferably daily tasks and action items, and set several achievable milestones along the way towards your end goal.

9. Keep Calm and Carry On

Remember to be compassionate with yourself. Making significant personal and life changes can be challenging, and as with any journey, there will be bumps as well as milestones along the way.

You will make mistakes, and there will be unforeseen setbacks. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Stay present as best you can, stick with your action plan, and review that Pros and Cons list you created to remind yourself of why it’s all worthwhile.

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Take time each day to visualize your desired outcome, and don’t forget to celebrate those little milestones and victories along the way.

The Bottom Line

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.  — Barack Obama

And therefore, you’re the only one who is responsible to change yourself for a better life.

Before you decide to make changes, be clear about what you want and what you need. And identify the skills you need and find the environment that supports you to make the change you desire.

Keep calm and carry on, and you will be the change you’ve always wanted!

More Articles to Help You Change Your Life

Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Mike Bundrant

Co-Founder @inlpcenter, which offers NLP training and life coach certification to students in over 70 countries.

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Published on May 20, 2019

How to Prevent Inaction from Leading to Regret

How to Prevent Inaction from Leading to Regret

Time.

When you think of this construct, where do you see your time being spent?

As William Shakespeare famously wrote “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me…”

Have you used your time wisely? Are you where you want to be?

Or do you have unfinished goals to attain… places you want to be, things you still need to do?

The hard truth is, that time once passed cannot be replaced–which is why it is common to hear people say that one should not squander time doing nothing, or delay certain decisions for later. More often than not, the biggest blocker from reaching our goals is often inaction – which is essentially doing nothing, rather than doing something. 

There are many reasons why we may not do something. Most often it boils down to adequate time. We may feel we don’t have enough time, or that it’s never quite the right time to pursue our goals.

Maybe next month, or maybe next year…

And, before you know it, the time has passed and you’re still no where near achieving those goals you dream about. This inaction often leads to strong regret once we look at the situation through hindsight. So, take some time now to reflect on any goal(s) you may have in mind, or hidden at the back of your mind; and, think about how you can truly start working on them now, and not later.

So, how do you start?

Figure Out Your Purpose (Your Main Goal)


The first important step is to figure out your purpose, or your main goal.

What is it that you’re after in life? And, are there any barriers preventing you from reaching your goal? These are good questions to ask when it comes to figuring out how (and for what purpose) you are spending your time.

Your purpose will guide you, and it will ensure your time spent is within the bounds of what you actually want to accomplish.

A good amount of research has been done on how we as humans develop and embrace long-term and highly meaningful goals in our lives. So much so, that having a purpose has connections to reduced stroke, and heart attack. It turns out, our desire to accomplish goals actually has an evolutionary connection–especially goals with a greater purpose to them. This is because a greater purpose often helps both the individual, and our species as a whole, survive.

Knowing why it is you’re doing something is important; and, when you do, it will be easier to budget your time and effort into pursuing after those milestones or tasks that will lead to the accomplishment of your main goal.

Assess Your Current Time Spent

Next comes the actual time usage. Once you know what your main goal is, you’ll want to make the most of the time you have now. It’s good to know how you’re currently spending your time, so that you can start making improvements and easily assess what can stay and what can go in your day to day routine.

For just one day, ideally on a day when you’d like to be more productive, I encourage you to record a time journal, down to the quarter hour if you can manage. You may be quite surprised at how little things—such as checking social media, answering emails that could wait, or idling at the water cooler or office pantry —can add up to a lot of wasted time.

To get you started, I recommend you check out this quick self assessment to assess your current productivity: Want To Know How Much You’re Getting Done In A Day?

Tricks to Tackle Distractions

Once you’ve assessed how you’re currently spending your time, I hope you won’t be in for too big of a shock when you see just how big of an impact distractions and time wasters are in your life.

Every time your mind wanders from your work, it takes an average of 25 minutes and 26 seconds to get into focus again. That’s almost half an hour of precious time every time you entertain a distraction!

Which is why it’s important to learn how to focus, and tackle distractions effectively. Here’s how to do it:

1. Set Time Aside for Focusing

One way to stay focused is to set focused sessions for yourself. During a focused session, you should let people know that you won’t be responding unless it’s a real emergency.

Set your messaging apps and shared calendars as “busy” to reduce interruptions. Think of these sessions as one on one time with yourself so that you can truly focus on what’s important, without external distractions coming your way.

2. Beware of Emails

Emails may sound harmless, but they can come into our inbox continuously throughout the day, and it’s tempting to respond to them as we receive them. Especially if you’re one to check your notifications frequently.

Instead of checking them every time a new notification sounds, set a specific time to deal with your emails at one go. This will no doubt increase your productivity as you’re dealing with emails one after the other, rather than interrupting your focus on another project each time an email comes in.

Besides switching off your email notifications so as not to get distracted, you could also install a Chrome extension called Block Site that helps to stop Gmail notifications coming through at specific times, making it easier for you to manage these subtle daily distractions.

3. Let Technology Help

As much as we are getting increasingly distracted because of technology, we can’t deny it’s many advantages. So instead of feeling controlled by technology, why not make use of disabling options that the devices offer?

Turn off email alerts, app notifications, or set your phone to go straight to voicemail and even create auto-responses to incoming text messages. There are also apps like Forrest that help to increase your productivity by rewarding you each time you focus well, which encourages you to ignore your phone.

4. Schedule Time to Get Distracted

Just as important as scheduling focus time, is scheduling break times. Balance is always key, so when you start scheduling focused sessions, you should also intentionally pen down some break time slots for your mind to relax.

This is because the brain isn’t created to sustain long periods of focus and concentration. The average attention span for an adult is between 15 and 40 minutes. After this time, your likelihood of distractions get stronger and you’ll become less motivated.

So while taking a mental break might seem unproductive, in the long run it makes your brain work more efficiently, and you’ll end up getting more work done overall.

Time is in Your Hands

At the end of the day, we all have a certain amount of time to go all out to pursue our heart’s desires. Whatever your goals are, the time you have now, is in your hands to make them come true.

You simply need to start somewhere, instead of allowing inaction waste your time away, leaving you with regret later on. With a main goal or purpose in mind, you can be on the right track to attaining your desired outcomes.

Being aware of how you spend your time and learning how to tackle common distractions can help boost you forward in completing what’s necessary to reach your most desired goals.

So what are you waiting for? 

Featured photo credit: Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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