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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How To Embrace Change In Life (Even If It’s Hard to Change)

How To Embrace Change In Life (Even If It’s Hard to Change)

The very nature of life is change, think of the seasons, life and death, the passing of time constantly marching forwards, it’s upon us and our duty to embrace it.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “but I don’t want to embrace it, I didn’t ask for it, I like things the way they are”.

If this is you, I hear you, I was the world’s biggest fan of knowing where to get my coffee in the morning, cruising through life on autopilot, enjoying the steady flow of consistency, routine and familiarity… until I wasn’t.

One day, I had the realization that my resistance to change was holding me back, keeping me from exciting opportunities that were rightfully mine yet seemed always slightly out of grasp.

The fact of the matter is we dig our heels in because change challenges us to move out of our comfort zone and take responsibility for where we are going whilst trusting ourselves to handle what comes.

What if we could shift our interpretation of change?

What if willingness to embrace change could be our greatest advantage?

As Heraclitus said,

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”.

Now more than ever it’s imperative we find new ways to embrace change because learning to embrace change gives you an incredible advantage, a winning edge and a sense of resilience that you never knew you had and once you discover, becomes your defining factor.

Let’s lean in to the discomfort, upheaval and uncertainty, after all, when we have nothing to fear that’s when we excel and produce outcomes no one thought possible.

Below are vital steps you can take to master the art of embracing change.

Think of these as tools to help you when you next get blindsided, caught off guard or dealt an unexpected hand as well as add flexibility to your repertoire

Your Response Can Quite Literally Save Your Life

Firstly, let’s ensure change doesn’t knock us off our game for good.

Research by Health Psychologist Kelly McGonigal has shown that it’s better to chase meaning and trust that you can handle the journey than to look for ways to seek comfort and mediocrity.

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Backed by data, this remarkable study tracked 30,000 adults in the United States for 8 years mapping stress experience against death records.[1]

What they found had huge implications!

The biggest contributing factor to death were people’s perceptions of the effects of stress on their health.

The results were shocking, when reviewing the past year participants who categorised themselves as ‘experiencing high stress’ and also ‘believed that stress was harmful for their health’ had 43% increased risk of dying.

What’s even more surprising is that by contrast, those that didn’t believe stress was harmful to their health even though they had also reported experiencing high levels of it in the previous year had the lowest risk of dying of anyone in the entire study.

This clearly shows that how we perceive stressful events (i.e. change) in relation to our health, matters, especially in times like these.

This begs the question, what if we could shift how we perceive change at the time it occurs?

Simple Solution Requires Practice

Breathwork has been well documented, but not nearly enough for the benefits it provides and the credit it deserves.

There’s a reason all top entrepreneurs and visionaries regard daily time in solitude and meditation as sacred. It allows them to focus on their breathing.

By breathing slowly (through the nose), especially when panicked, taken by surprise or in response to stressful news like a big change it causes tiny amounts of nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas) to be released.

This has a biological effect on the brain which expands the blood vessels and increases blood flow. All good things when dealing with change as more oxygen into the brain promotes clarity of thought, centeredness and feelings of safety.

Along with this sense of calmness, the long term benefit is that we create new neural pathways that can become our default for stressful situations and times of change.

Due to the increased ability to remain present and focused, we experience more successful outcomes as a result. Over time, this allows us to form a new association between the physiological signs of an anxiety response (sweaty palms, increased heart rate) and our ability to switch to slower breathing patterns. In essence, we learn to associate the physiological response with success.

The key here is to build muscle memory around this neural shift, so that when you experience stress and feel your heart rate start to rise, you automatically slide into deep slow breathing (6 breaths per minute).

The equation then becomes experience change or stressful event equals to getting ready to dominate and produce to our fullest potential.

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The Link Between Values and Change

When change is upon us (even though we might not like it at first) much like the unpredictable times we face now, it might feel difficult to look ahead without feeling overwhelmed.

The way to master this type of unprecedented change is to gain control over your mindset through heightened awareness and disciplined application for your values.

By getting closer to our core values and living in accordance with them, it makes it easier to make decisions, develop momentum and push through because we are driven by a deeper purpose.

Your values are your guiding principles and they hold the key to self-confidence and identity. For example, you might think, my family is important to me, so I will choose to look at this situation with a growth mindset. Which in turn allows you to create solutions and thrive in uncertainty because you seek to find ways to provide for them instead of being a victim of circumstance.

Adopting a growth mindset centred around your values makes all the difference, it elevates you to rise to the challenge, set a new standard for yourself and on top of that it’s fun!

Action is Key

One way to increase self-confidence in unpredictable times is by doing admirable things, like getting started on a project, taking action in spite of fear, giving more, this helps to construct a positive self-image that you feel good about.

This also makes another case for living in accordance with our deeper values and making time each day for goal setting to help us maintain worthiness and boost our self-confidence.

Remember why, not what.

Which brings me to my next point, in a similar vein by focusing on why you do what you do, not what you do, it adds a degree of flexibility to any situation.

Maybe you need to rethink that job transfer, relocation or being laid off as an opportunity to deliver more of your why to the world.

If you’re in sales, you deliver solutions and joy not the product.

Starting a new business? You relish the challenge not the security.

Leading a company? You inspire and give mission not title and prestige.

Whatever your chosen field, it’s the why, not the what, that keeps you going. You are not defined by your title, LinkedIn profile or awards, but why you do it – get closer to this and watch yourself overcome all manner of obstacles.

Leverage Different Domains

When you’re facing a challenge in one domain, yet are experiencing success in another, leverage it!

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For example, an acquisition sees your company taken over (which makes for a lot of change) leaving you feeling uncertain and doubting your abilities, yet at home in your family life you are the rock and have it together, this is an opportunity.

It is possible to bring the confidence you feel at home into the workplace to help you navigate the new challenges in this domain. Then, your overall self-integrity is not compromised because you allow your success in one area of your life to flow through into another.

Focus on Delivering Value

When change happens, consider it an opportunity to bring value. When we shift from victim to value adding crusader, it develops a new perspective and builds confidence.

Giving becomes a gift to yourself as well as others and like a self-fulfilling cycle we reap what we sow. This has synergies with the philosophy taught by Tony Robbins which is based on not falling in love with your product but falling in love with your customers and the process of delivering value to them instead.[2]

This is where transformation in the midst of change and adversity occurs and it is where you can gain a huge competitive advantage whilst others are descending into victimhood and wallowing in despair.

Creatively Mix It Up

As Matthew McConaughey says in his new book Greenlights, you must learn to respect winter.

Once a week, force yourself to work from a new part of town, you will have new ideas, meet new people and build your resilience muscles. Do this even if you don’t feel like it.

Once you have mastered prioritizing taking action above your emotions, dealing with the unexpected winds of change won’t be difficult.

By getting creative and taking the initiative to work from a new location, it interrupts your normalised pattern of behavior and you will have to rely on your gut instinct again.

This is much like the Stoic philosophy that Seneca used to impart,

“Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: “Is this the condition that I feared?”

This helped Seneca respect winter and also increase his confidence that he could, if he had to, after all if we aren’t afraid of the worst case scenario then we are liberated.

The thing about change that causes us to feel so uneasy is it feels like it is happening to us, like we don’t have a choice, much like a tide swiping us out into the ocean, no matter how hard we try it forces us in that direction.

To deal with this, we must flip this feeling on its head. Trick the mind into believing that it is what we want, it’s part of our grand master plan and that we have the wherewithal to deal with whatever might be to come.

This is where self-trust, self-identity and self-confidence come in, variables we must ensure to instil and nurture in droves.

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It’s this choice of perception that gives us control because by going with it, we bring our awareness to the opportunities for advancement, we take more courageous actions as a result and have higher expectations of ourselves and the situation.

We have removed the fear from the equation and as a result, it has lost its power over us. This is what having an open mind in the context of change does, it free you up to witness the miracles and by moving with it creates a self-serving cycle of ascension amidst crisis.

Small Actions Make a Difference

Research by Yeager & Walton (2011) has also shown that even the smallest of actions can help to boost our self-confidence and perceived ability to handle future challenges.[3] This in turn helps you become more resilient and cope better, in a self-fulfilling cycle.

Anything from focusing on simple tasks, spending time with friends, serving a high purpose, being there for family members or even shopping for high status goods, has been shown to make a difference.

This brings me to my next point.

Tap Into The Positive Feedback Loop

There’s a deep link between self-identity and social reinforcement that promotes high performance.

For example, imagine your company is going through large scale change but because you are self-affirmed (i.e. you have confidence in your abilities) you achieve better performance at work. As a result, you feel even more self-affirmed and because of this top performance, your boss expects more from you.

Due to this expectation, your own standards are raised and others in the workplace draw out even higher performance from you through recognition feedback and rewarding behaviours as well as recognising your position as a top performer. Then, you feel more self-affirmed and seek opportunities for growth, training and development which leads to producing even better results.

This is the type of positive feedback loop that if developed early can have dramatic and advantageous effects even in the midst of change and disruption as long as you begin at once.

Your Go To Outlet

Finally, there’s a powerful tool right at your fingertips, available to you at every stage, that can help you have mind-blowing ideas, improves productivity and focus throughout the day and helps you have more confidence in who you are and where you are going.

I’m talking about journaling.

Here are a couple of activities to get you started.

  1. Write about the situation you are facing and how you can align with your core values.
  2. Commit to journaling for 10 minutes a day on topics like creative ways to solve problems.

In conclusion, these are some powerful game-changing strategies to help you embrace chance and reach your full potential.

Want To Know More About Embracing Change?

Featured photo credit: Camila Cordeiro via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Business Insider: This Incredible TED Talk Shows How Changing Your Perception Of Stress Could Save Your Life
[2] Tony Robbins: Don’t Fall in Love With Your Products
[3] Yeager DS, Walton GM. 2011. Social-psychological interventions in education: they’re not magic. Rev. Educ. Res. 81:267–301

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Tim Castle

Bestselling Author, Coach and Co-Founder of My Book Habit

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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

11 Essential Habits for Success

11 Essential Habits for Success

We all want to succeed. Whether it’s in losing weight, learning the guitar, speed reading, or starting our own business. For those of us who have tried and failed, success seems elusive. Why is it one person succeeds where another person fails? First and foremost, I believe it is in their mindset. But secondly, I believe that successful people have developed certain habits, either naturally or through research, that the rest of us haven’t stumbled upon yet.

Though I want each of you to succeed in everything you do, I can’t guarantee success. Only you can do that. It starts in your mind, and from there your thoughts take physical form through your actions. Believing in yourself is a necessity! Beyond that, I’ve made a list of some habits to help you set goals and achieve them.

1. Identify your core values

What is important to you? Finding your core values may seem a bit off-topic when it comes to success, but creating goals that are in line with your values is key to creating intrinsic motivation. Sit and reflect on what you value most. Pick a handful of things and actually write them down. Remind yourself of your values every day, and reflect on whether you are honoring those values through your work.

2. Pick a goal (Focus)

Choose one goal to start. Something large enough that will give you a sense of accomplishment, while aligning well with your core values. Focus is key here. The more focused you are on one goal, the higher chance you have of success. If you spread yourself too thin, you might never complete your projects because they will take far too long. Believe me, multitasking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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3. Set a deadline for success

Set a date for success. Identify when your hope to achieve your goal. Keep it realistic, while not giving yourself too much time. By setting a time limit, you are making the process more real. You also now have something to visualize in the next point.

4. Build the right mindset

Believe fully in your ability to achieve your goal. Visualize yourself having completed your goal in the exact time-frame you have chosen, although finishing early is also acceptable. You don’t need to consider the failures that will happen along the way. Success is inevitable. Others may think you will fail, don’t let yourself be one of them! (If you have trouble visualizing success, perhaps a fear of success is limiting you)

“Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.” – Henry Ford

5. Consequences for missing your deadline

Set up negative consequences for missing the deadline. Necessity is the mother of all invention. If you can manage to keep yourself intrinsically motivated, that’s great. If not, this will help kick you into gear and keep your eye on the prize.

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6. Weekly and Daily Goals (Plan)

Break down goals by week and by day, setting up a plan to reach your overall objective. Keep the number of tasks per day as low as you can, and focus on completing only your planned tasks for each day. If you find yourself done, pick the next thing from your weekly list. Do the hardest things during your peak energy level, which usually means doing them first!

7. Prioritize

Prioritize the tasks you have in front of you. Don’t always do the most urgent thing first. Pick the task that’s the most important. Sometimes these overlap, which is nice. By always accomplishing what’s most important, you are making clear progress toward your goal.

Also keep in mind that completing the hardest task first is a sure-fire way of increasing your productivity. If you put it off until later in the day, your energy level is bound to drop, and finishing the hard task will seem daunting and maybe even impossible. But, if you start off with the hardest task, when your energy level is high, you will have the focus and energy required to finish it off.

8. Take risks

Push yourself. Go out of your comfort zone. This is the best way to learn, and the best way to make progress quickly. If you’re looking for new ideas, being risk averse will not help. This takes a lot of self-awareness. Try and be conscious of when you are holding yourself back out of fear. Push yourself to be courageous, and take that next step.

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9. Perseverance

Failure is inevitable when you take risks, which is what you’ll be doing if you want to succeed. By its very definition, the desire to succeed at something means you are risking failure. Many people tend to give up far too early. Don’t fall into this trap! Remember your mindset earlier, and visualize your success. Know it will happen. A failure is merely you working out the details, and learning what works and what doesn’t. Use failure. Treat it as a good thing, and march on!

10. Reflect

Take time every day to sit quietly and reflect on your values, goals, and progress made so far. Where have you excelled, and where can you do better. Is everything you are doing still lining up with your core values? Always look for ways to improve.

11. Learn

Never stop learning. Know what everyone else is doing, and what everyone else has done, and how they did it. Search wide for knowledge that might help you, and any inspiration that may do the same. Never think you have nothing to learn from others.

Bottom Line

I cannot overstate the value of building the correct mindset and perseverance. I believe these two habits are the fundamental building blocks to enjoying any great success in life.

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Featured photo credit: Rachel Ellis via unsplash.com

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