Every year, many of us may have launched initiatives to prepare 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 a 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. 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.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the five Logical Levels:
- Identity – Who are you? What roles do you play in your life?
- Beliefs – Why do you do what you do? What are your values and beliefs?
- Capabilities – How do you do things? What are your skills and strategies?
- Behaviors – What are you doing? What are your current behaviors?
- Environment – Where, when, and with whom do 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.
To shift a behavior, which is the level we typically target when we resolve to prepare for 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)?
- 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 as you prepare for 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.
This article can help you with this: How to Makes Lasting Changes with Smart Goal Setting
3. Create a Pros and Cons List
It’s inevitable that with big change come 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 pulled 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? 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
Visualizing the end result as you prepare for change is a great way to create a richly imagined successful future outcome as positive motivation on your journey. 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. If you’re not sure how to visualize results, check out this article to learn more.
You can learn some more simple hacks to help change your life in this video:
5. Ecology Check
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 assets you still need to acquire in order to successfully accomplish the change ahead of 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 skills or resources that are currently lacking as you prepare for change.
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 start to prepare for change, even if we want it. 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 daily tasks and action items, and set several achievable milestones along the way.
Start creating your action plan: How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals
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. 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.
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
As the former president of the United States makes clear above, you’re the only one who is responsible for the changes you make in your pursuit of a better life.
As you prepare for change, be clear about what you want and what you need. Identify the skills you need and find the environment that supports you to make the change you desire, and you will be the change you’ve always wanted!
More Tips on Making Changes
- How to Overcome Your Resistance to Change to Live a Better Life
- How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits
- 10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever
Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com
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