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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

6 Challenges in Life You Must Overcome to Become a Better Person

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6 Challenges in Life You Must Overcome to Become a Better Person

Life is an uncertain roller coaster. You can choose to embrace it and enjoy the ride, joyfully learning from your experiences along the way; or you can choose to rebel against all of life’s challenges, resenting every moment of your journey. The latter robs you of any growth or development, while the former gives you the opportunity to learn from those challenges and become a better person for having experienced them.

While “better” may be relative, one thing is certain – “better” means improved. No matter where you find yourself, there is always room for improvement. Even a monk strives daily to improve himself, striving always to become a better person.

Challenges in life are a given, and they can be used to your advantage. Each one is an opportunity for personal growth and self-improvement. Ultimately, the goal is to use what you learn as you grow to become the best version of yourself.

Here are 6 common challenges in life you must overcome on your road to becoming a better person:

1. Loss

Whether you lose your job, an opportunity, or a relationship – loss is an inevitable part of life.

Regardless of how it happens, loss is one of the life’s biggest challenges. It can feel abrupt and disruptive. However, loss gives you the opportunity to reflect on what is truly important so that you to keep moving forward.

Losing something that you had, or really wanted, can be a welcome wake up call. Loss forces you to ask yourself, “What about what I lost was valuable to me?” and “What am I willing to do to get what I want?”

Choosing to examine your loss through the lens of these questions causes you to assess the true value of what you lost, as well as why you value it. Having a clear understanding of what you value and why you value it, is key to becoming a better person because it gives your words & actions integrity.

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2. Failure

There is not a single person alive who hasn’t experienced failure. To grow, you must fail. Failure offers a natural checkpoint on your journey, one that allows you to evaluate your recent behavioral choices so that you can make improvements. When you fail, you get the chance to review your decisions and behaviors, like an athlete reviews the taped footage between games.

Reviewing the decisions and actions that lead you to fail is an invaluable exercise. Understanding how the decisions you made led to certain behaviors and actions can prevent you from making the same mistakes again. Such a review can also reveal important details you missed the first time that would allow you to take a better and more informed approach the next time.

The experience of failure causes you to develop compassion, empathy and sympathy. Your experience gives you a point of commonality with anyone who has had a similar experience. Those three emotions are essential tools on your journey to becoming a better person because they allow others to feel safe and seen around you.

3. Setbacks

They have many names: missteps, monkey wrenches, unforeseen circumstances. But setbacks are ever present on our journey to becoming a better person.

We have all experienced a slow in progress, hindrance or delay on our journey. The challenge is understanding why the delay happened. What caused our progress to slow down or plateau?

You can intellectually know all the right things to do or say, but there are those moments when your humanness gets the best of you. Despite your best efforts to be a better person, you suddenly do or say something you regret. Perhaps you react in a way that is negative or out of alignment with your desire to become a better person. ITS OKAY!

Setbacks are learning opportunities. Having a firm understanding of the types of things that slow your progress will allow you to both avoid and preempt them.

Resilience is one positive side effect of overcoming setbacks. The journey to becoming a better person requires that you be mentally tough. Setbacks are an organic way to build that mental toughness while still maintaining integrity in your actions, and a sense of emotional awareness that promotes a safe environment where others feel seen.

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4. Establishing Your Moral Compass

Distinguishing right from wrong for yourself is an ever present life challenge. You may agree with one ideology today, and another tomorrow. Changing your mind is your right, and deciding where you stand is your responsibility. The two go hand in hand.

Deciding what you believe is important on your road to becoming a better person. Self-improvement is anchored in your own personal sense of right and wrong.

Most people act in accordance with their values and beliefs. Giving yourself permission to grow as person means taking time to reexamine them both. It is possible you will discover that your values and beliefs are no longer in alignment with your end goal.

Thankfully, your assessment of the misalignment will lead you to do what is necessary to once again find your true north. The ability to self-correct will serve you on you journey.

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5. Mastering Your Mind

Your mind can be a formidable opponent on your path to becoming a better person. It can pipe up with all kinds of negative commentary when things are not going well, and can have the power to derail you with doubt and fear – if you let it. Mastering your mind is one of the greatest life challenges of all.

Your mind controls your perspective, it informs how you receive and process your interactions with the world around you. Unlike other things you can claim mastery over after a finite amount of time, the mind can take some a lifetime to master. The challenge is showing up willing to do the work of mastering the mind everyday, while having a complete awareness of the infinite nature of this work.

Where ever you go, there you are; thus it’s impossible to hide from yourself. If your mind is unruly and unkind, then it will be hard for you to become a better person, primarily because you are not being better to yourself.

Luckily, there are a myriad of ways to begin the work of mastering you mind. The key is to create space for you to be with yourself in a healthy way that promotes growth. Some common methods to facilitate focused personal time are therapy, meditation, self-reflection, prayer, intentional silence, journaling and being out in nature.

6. Overcoming Your Story

Everyone was once a child. There are things you experienced that were outside of your control, regardless of their severity those experiences stay with you. Those experiences become part of your story. Overcoming the story you tell yourself about your own experience can be quite the life challenge.

Whether you grew up poor, didn’t have a lot of love in your house, or didn’t feel seen, it affects the way you move through the world. There are the facts of these experiences and there are fuzzy edges where our minds fill in the blanks.

For Example: if you say “I grew up poor and I am always going to be poor,” that is an example of your story taking control.

Comparatively, if you said “I grew up poor, but I am working hard now. I’m doing whatever I can to make sure I have all the things I need and am comfortable”– even if it’s hard, that is still an example of overcoming your story.

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I grew up in an out of apartments, worried about money, with feelings of unworthiness because of what I saw around me. I thought struggling was normal and survival was a default mode of being – it became part of my story. Yet as an adult, I had to make a choice, either I allow the past experiences shape my current narrative OR I focus on the circumstances of the present as a reflection of my current reality.

While the choice may be clear, the action required to shift the narrative is challenging. It requires intentionality and self-awareness. You have to be willing to let go of the stories that don’t serve you anymore, in favor of exploring the present moment to the fullest. Carrying around stale, negative narratives stifles your ability engage in positive self-reflection which is the corner stone of personal growth.

When you have set your story aside in favor of embracing the present, you encourage others to do the same. Overcoming your story empowers you to embrace this moment as opportunity to write a new story – one you are in control of. On the road to becoming a better person focusing on what you can control and letting go of what you can’t control is critical.

Final Thoughts

These challenges in life are common. No matter who you are, or where you are, if your goal is to become a better person, you will encounter these 6 challenges in some form or fashion.

Fortunately, you are now prepared to overcome them with grace and strategy. As you continue along your journey to becoming a better person, remember to let go of the things you can’t control in exchange for being present in the moment, create space for healthy self-reflection, give yourself permission to reexamine your values and beliefs, embrace the resilience that comes from encountering setbacks, allow your failures to be the source of compassionate resonance, and let loss teach you about what you value.

Now that you know what you have to overcome, get out there and summit those peaks, life is waiting for you on the other side.

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Featured photo credit: Luke van Zyl via unsplash.com

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Awilda Rivera

Success Coach - Author - Speaker - Yogi - Advisor

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

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How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

Quitting smoking is the easiest thing in the world. Some people quit smoking a thousand times in their lives! Everyone knows someone with this mindset.

But this type of change is superficial. It doesn’t last. For real, lasting change to take place, we need to consider the quadrants of change.

Real change, the change that is fundamental, consistent, and longitudinal (lasting over time) has to happen in four quadrants of your life.

It doesn’t have to be quitting smoking; it can be any habit you want to break — drinking, biting your nails, overeating, playing video games, shopping, and more.

Most experts focus on only one area of change, some focus on two areas, but almost none focus on all four quadrants of change. That’s why much of change management fails.

Whether it is in the personal life of a single individual through actions and habits, or in a corporate environment, regarding the way they conduct their business, current change management strategies are lacking.

It all stems from ignoring at least one part of the equation.

So, today, we will cover all four quadrants of change and learn the formula for how to change fundamentally and never go back to your “old self.”

A word of warning: this is simple to do, but it’s not easy. Anyone who tells you that change is easy is either trying to sell you something, or they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Those who want an overnight solution have left the article now, so that leaves you, me, and the real process of change.

The Four Quadrants of Change

There are four areas, or quadrants, in which you need to make a change in order for it to stick. If you miss or ignore a single one of these, your change won’t stick, and you will go back to your previous behavior.

The four quadrants are:

  1. Internal individual – mindset
  2. External individual – behavior
  3. Internal collective – culture/support system
  4. External collective – laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

All four of these quadrants of change may sound like they could carry change all by themselves, but they can’t. So, be sure to implement your change in all four quadrants. Otherwise, it will all be in vain.

First Quadrant — Internal Individual

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of an individual, and it concerns itself with the mindset of a person.

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Our actions stem from our thoughts (most of the time), and if we change our mindset toward something, we will begin to process of changing the way we act.

People who use the law of attraction fall into this category, where they’ve recognized the strength of thoughts and how they make us change ourselves.

Even Lao Tzu had a great saying regarding this:

“Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything.” [1]

One of the most impactful ways you can make a change in this quadrant is to implement what James Clear calls identity-based habits. [2]

Instead of prioritizing the outcome of a change (ex.: I want to lose 20 pounds), you prioritize your identity as a person (I want to become/remain a healthy person).

Here are a couple of examples for you to see the strength of this kind of resolution:

I want to watch many movies = I am a cinema lover
I want to clean my apartment = I am a clean person
I want to harvest my crops = I am a harvester (farmer)
I want to swim = I am a swimmer

This quadrant is about changing the identity you attach to a certain action. Once you re-frame your thinking in this way, you will have completed the first of the quadrants of change.

Second Quadrant — External Individual

This quadrant focuses on the external world of an individual and concerns itself with the behavior of a person.

This is where people like Darren Hardy, the author of the Compound Effect reside. Hardy is about doing small, consistent actions that will create change in the long run (the compound effect).

You want to lose 30 pounds? Start by eating just 150 calories (approximately two slices of bread) less a day, and in two and a half years, you will have lost 30 pounds.

The same rules apply to business, investing, sports, and multiple other areas. Small, consistent actions can create big changes.

This works — I’ve read 20 extra pages a day for the past two years, and it accumulated into 90 books read in two years. [3]

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Here, you have two ways of dealing with change behaviorally: negative environmental design and positive environmental design.

Negative Environmental Design

This is when you eliminate the things from your environment that revert you to the old behavior. If you want to stop eating ice cream, you don’t keep it in your freezer.

If you want to stop watching TV, you remove the batteries from the remote and put them on the other side of the house (it works!).

Positive Environmental Design

This is when you put the things that you want to do withing reach — literally!

You want to learn how to play guitar? Put your guitar right next to your sofa. You want to head to the gym? Put the gym clothes in a backpack and put it on top of your shoes.

You want to read more books? Have a book on your nightstand, your kitchen table, and on the sofa.

You can even combine this last trick with my early advice about removing the batteries from your remote control, combining the negative and positive environmental designs for maximum effect.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

If you just change your behavior and leave your intentions (thoughts) intact, your discipline will fail you and the real change won’t happen.

You will simply revert back to the previous behavior because you haven’t changed the fundamental root of why this problem occurs in the first place.

That is why you need to create change both in the first quadrant (internal individual — mindset) and the second quadrant (external individual — behavior). These quadrants of change are two sides of the same coin.

Most change management would stop here, and that’s why most change management fails.

No matter how much you focus on yourself, there are things that affect our lives that are happening outside of us. That is the focus of the two remaining quadrants.

Third Quadrant — Internal Collective

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the culture of that collective.

There are two different distinctions here: the Inner Ring and the Outer Ring.

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The Inner Ring

These are your friends and your family. The Inner Ring is the place where the social and cultural norms of your friends and family rule.

So, if everyone in your family is overweight and every lunch is 1,000 calories per person, then you can say goodbye to your idea of becoming healthy.

In this case, the culture of your group, the inner norms that guide the decisions, actions, thoughts, ideas, and patterns of behaviors are all focused on eating as much as possible. [4]

You need to have the support of your Inner Ring if you want to achieve change. If you don’t have this support, the the best way to proceed is by either changing your entire Inner Ring or distancing yourself from it.

Beware — most Inner Rings won’t accept the fact that you want to change and will undermine you on many occasions — some out of habit, some due to jealousy, and some because supporting you would mean that they have to change, too.

You don’t have to cut ties with people, but you can consciously decide to spend less time with them.

The Outer Ring

The Outer Ring consists of the culture of your company, community, county, region, and country. For example, it’s quite hard to be an open-minded person in North Nigeria, no matter how you, your friends, and your family think.

The Outer Ring is the reason why young people move to the places that share their value systems instead of staying in their current city, county, or country.

Sometimes, you need to change your Outer Ring as well because its culture is preventing you from changing.

I see this every single day in my country, where the culture can be so toxic that it doesn’t matter how great of a job you have or how great your life currently looks — the culture will change you, inch by inch, until you become like it.

Fourth Quadrant — External Collective

This quadrant focuses on the external world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the systems, teams, laws, and rules of that collective.

This quadrant is about the external manifestations of the collective culture. If the majority of the environment thinks in a certain way, they will create institutions that will implement that way of thinking.

The same rules apply to companies.

One example for companies would be those managers who think that employees are lazy, lack responsibility, and need constant supervision (or what is called Theory X in management).

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Then, those managers implement systems that reflect that kind of culture– no flexible work hours, strict rules about logging work, no remote work, etc.

Your thoughts, however, may be different. You might believe that people want responsibility, that they are capable of self-direction, that they can make good decisions, and that managers don’t need to stand on their necks if they want something done (this is called Theory Y in management).

Then, you would want to have flexible working hours, different ways of measuring your productivity (for example, not time on the job but work produced), and remote work, if possible for your profession.

This is when you enter into a conflict with the external collective quadrant. Here, you have four options: leave, persevere, neglect, and voice.

Leave

You can simply leave the company/organization/community/country and go to a different place. Most people decide to do this.

Persevere

This is when you see that the situation isn’t good, but you decide to stick at it and wait for the perfect time (or position) where you can implement change.

Neglect

This is where you give up on the change you want to see and just go with the flow, doing the minimal work necessary to keep the status quo.

These are the people who are disengaged at work and are doing just the bare minimum necessary (which, in the U.S. is around 65% of the workforce).

I did this only once, and it’s probably the only thing I regret doing in my life.

Voice

This is where you actively work on changing the situation, and the people in charge know that you want to create a change.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your company, community, or your country; you are actively calling for a change and will not stop until it’s implemented.

Putting It All Together

When you take it all into account, change is simple, in theory, but it isn’t easy to execute. It takes work in all four quadrants:

  1. Internal individual — mindset
  2. External individual — behavior
  3. Internal collective — culture/support system
  4. External collective — laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

Some will require more work, some less, but you will need to create a change in all four of them.

But don’t let that discourage you because change is possible, and many people have done this. The best time to start changing was yesterday, but the second best time is today.

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Featured photo credit: Djim Loic via unsplash.com

Reference

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