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Last Updated on January 8, 2019

How to Conquer Your Fear of Change and Transform Your Life

How to Conquer Your Fear of Change and Transform Your Life

Studies show that 80% of people will quit their resolution within six-weeks.[1] When attempting to understand why so many people cannot transform their lives, you need to look at their beliefs.

Most people want to change something about their lives, but they are discouraged by the fears and self-doubts their false beliefs create. If you are ready to transform your life, then you must be ready to conquer your fear of change.

Where so Many Fall-Short

If you want to transform your life, then you need to aid your mind in understanding this is a change for the better. This is important because whether you want to admit it or not, you enjoy your current lifestyle.

Consider someone who was dealing with a variety of health problems. They experience dizziness, headaches, and numbness in their legs. They visit their doctor and the doctor told them they need to change their diet. They need to replace their chips and chocolate cake with fruits and vegetables.

If you have ever attempted to change your eating habits, you know it is not the easiest thing to do. Most of you already know that diet and exercise will dramatically improve your quality of life. Yet, I am sure you are also aware that knowing isn’t the same as doing.

Even though you know the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, you fear the change of never being able to eat chocolate cake again. In other words, your fear of change is related to losing a perceived reward. While you may consciously know that eating chocolate cake is not the best choice, you subconsciously (and consciously for many of us) enjoyed every bite.

Frequently, you will find your fear of change is associated with the loss of a reward. Even though you may know the consequences of things like eating chocolate cake, smoking, or staying in a toxic relationship, your mind focuses on the good times.

How to Conquer Your Fear of Change

1. Create a Reward System

For you to successfully transform your life and conquer your fear of change, you must reward yourself.[2] Think about it, if your mind believes you are removing an activity you enjoy, how likely is it to agree? For you to ease the transition into your new life, you must show your mind it is not losing, but gaining an additional reward.

By frequently rewarding yourself, you are encouraging yourself to continue. The mistake that most people make is they try to conquer fear with fear. This does not work as well as some would like you to think.

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While there is a place for both, I have always found using a carrot works remarkably better than using a stick. Whenever possible, you want to encourage yourself to run towards pleasure, instead of urging yourself to run away from pain.

By focusing on running towards pleasure, you will slowly shift your mind’s reward recognition. Overtime, you will no longer see eating chocolate cake as enticing as a good salad.

2. Research Your Transformation

While transforming your life can feel like a leap of faith, you can limit the height of the ledge by researching the changes you want to make. When most people decide to transform their life, they are only focused on the results.

While the results are a motivator to start, they are rarely enough to continue. Whenever you procrastinate on changing your life, that usually means you are fearful of the next step.

3. Ask Yourself: What Are You Afraid Of?

Your fear of change in this instance is tied to the fear of uncertainty. Think about someone who is interested in changing their career. They know that their current situation is not right for them. They have an idea of the type of work and the amount of money they would like to make.

However, they have no idea how to get from where they are to where they want to be. This creates a feeling of overwhelm as they are uncertain if they can accomplish their goal.

For you to conquer your fear of change in this scenario, you need to make a list of your concerns and research methods to mitigate them.

If you are concerned about losing your seniority and starting over, ask the hiring manager what they value most in their new employees. Then you can create a plan to deliver immediate value to show your worth.

Maybe you are worried about the relationship with your new supervisor. If that is the case, invite them out for lunch or coffee to get to know them better. In this case, it is critical that you are both as honest as possible. It defeats the purpose if either of you are pretending to be something you are not.

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If you are not confident that you are completely qualified for the role, check to see if you can find a competency test online. If there is no test available, ask the hiring manager if you can talk with the person you are replacing.

By the time you research the validity of your concerns, you will know whether you should take the leap or not. The mistake most people make is they never properly address their concerns. They allow the fear of change to fester into something that stifles their ambitions.

By listing and exposing each of your fears, you create the opportunity to conquer them.

4. Avoid the Past and Future

Whenever your fears and self-doubt discourage you from transforming your life, you are not living in the present moment. When you feel stressed and overwhelmed, you are living in the past or the future.

If you are living in the past, then you are reminding yourself of your previous mistakes. You are worried about repeating them and this can make it difficult to continue.

Other times, the previous mistakes may not be your own. If someone shared their past failures with you, those could be enough to discourage your willingness to continue.

In either situation, you are allowing your past experiences to discourage your present action.

If you are focused too much on the future, then you feel overwhelmed by possible outcomes. For example, you do not apply for a promotion because you are worried about the increased workload. You could find yourself avoiding new relationships because you are afraid of getting hurt again.

Whatever the transformation you want to make in your life, do not allow the uncertainty surrounding it to cause you to procrastinate.

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5. Stay in the Present

When you are in the present moment, you have nothing to be stressed or concerned about. Instead of seeing challenges as concerns, you see them as opportunities to grow.

If you just got out of a bad relationship, what did you learn about yourself from those experiences?

Could you be attracted to a type of person that is counterproductive to your goals? Is it possible you are in a different place in your life and you have a different list of priorities? Did something happen in your relationship that set it on the path of failure?

Your only goal in this exercise is to create opportunities to make better decisions. You should not fear the change associated with going from “single” to “committed relationship”, instead you should find opportunities to find the right person for you.

The same principle holds true in the promotion example. Instead of never applying for a promotion because you are worried about the workload, state your requirements in the beginning. This will ensure that you and the hiring manager are on the same page.

If you tell them you are only going to work a set number of hours, then it is up to them to accept your proposal.

When you stay in the present, you allow yourself to make the best decision with the information available. When you are focused on the past or the future, you do not have the opportunity to decide anything. Instead, you are only stressing out about the perceived “inevitable” outcome. Whether that outcome is driven by your past failures or your fear of the worst-case scenario in the future.

6. Burn the bridge

Let’s say that you have done everything recommended to this point, but you still feel as though transforming your life is a daily grind.

If you find yourself in this situation, you want to put the systems in place to make it easy to maintain your changes. As difficult as this may sound, on its most basic level, you are burning the bridge back to your old life.

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Whenever the fear of change discourages you from advancing, by putting the proper systems in place, you can make it even more discouraging to retreat.

Most of the time you are making it more difficult to advance in your transformation than retreat to your previous life.

7. A Layer of Accountability

Think about someone who joins a gym because they want to be healthier. If the only thing you did was purchase a monthly membership, do not be surprised you have canceled your membership in a couple of months. Instead, consider purchasing an annual membership.

This will help you feel as though you have invested a considerable amount of resources into your transformation. Then, you can partner with someone you know who enjoys working out. They will be your accountability partner.

You will task them with the responsibility of calling you every morning you are supposed to work out. If you do not answer, you have empowered them with the ability to make impact your life.

Whether you have given them incriminating photos they can post on social media, or you have given them money they can keep if you do not follow through.

On the other-hand, when you keep your commitments, they will give you your predetermined reward. By adding an accountability partner to your journey to transform your life, you dramatically improve the odds of you maintaining your goals and resolutions.[3]

Final Thoughts

To conquer your fear of change and transform your life you need a comprehensive plan. Spend the proper amount of time understanding your motivation, researching your concerns, and putting the proper systems in place.

Resources to Help You Make Changes in Life

Featured photo credit: Vlad Bagacian via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Undre Griggs

Coaching To Help Professionals And Organizations Change Their Beliefs So They Can Get Results.

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

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Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

More to Help You Stay Motivated

Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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