Growth requires change

An image of a hand holding a small green shoot

One of the hardest steps to growth is making change.

But it doesn’t mean that we have to make massive change all in one go.

Changes that kickstart growth can be a simple as mixing up your daily routine. Such as getting up 20 mins earlier, going for a walk straight after work, or writing a meal plan before the new week starts.

All good growth – and by that I mean growth that you can sustain – begins with making those small incremental differences.  These are the things which build confidence, or change habits.

And they are also a way to boost momentum and get you moving to the next step, and the next after that.

Often what people find hardest about change, is that they try to do too much at once.  This is when you find that you haven’t properly planned it, or anticipated the time you need to commit properly.  And we convince ourselves that we can’t do it, or it’s going to be too hard.

So try making one small change this week.  It doesn’t have to be too drastic.  Not life changing in the short term, but something that over time will help you build a more positive habit.

You can do hard things….gradually!

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Motivation isn’t like a light switch

An image of a light switch that can be flicked on and off

How do you view motivation?  Is it all or nothing?  Either all ‘go’ or all ‘no’.  It can be helpful to remember, motivation isn’t like a light switch.

We can easily talk ourselves out of things when we feel less motivated,  and the more we do it, the more difficult it can be to overcome it.

If you can think back to a time where you’ve struggled to get motivated with something, can you remember how you felt about yourself?  I’m guessing it was pretty negatively.

We can start to blame ourselves for things going wrong and the more we avoid situations or taking action, then we are at risk of starting to see ourselves as a failure.   This type of thinking gets us believing that motivation is something we either have or don’t have. And if we don’t have it in that moment, we blame ourselves.

In reality, there are a lot of different factors that impact on our motivation, and it’s normal to feel more or less motivated at different times.  Even when it’s something important or enjoyable.

So if you notice that your motivation is a little unpredictable, go easy on yourself.

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How can we support ourselves through times of change?

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There’s nothing as certain as change, so they say.  So you’d think we would be able to navigate it with ease, the more we get used to it.  But of course, we know that change can be uncomfortable, and we may even actively avoid it.

But there are ways in which we can support ourselves to make any transition a little easier.

Accept that change is an inevitable part of life.

Our mindset can be the most important tool, so the more comfortable we get with the idea of change, the easier it can be for us to anticipate the changes that will be required.

Take control where you can.

Not all change will be of our own making, and it can be challenging when change gets forced upon us.  And when we feel that things are happening outside of our control, it can feed all sorts of negative thoughts.  But there is always a choice in how we react to the situations we find ourselves in.  We can choose to feel defensive, or we can choose to give it a chance.  If we are really unhappy with the situation that change has led us to, we have the choice to look for an alternative path.

Accept that failure or detours are normal.

Along with being comfortable with change, our mindset around failure is also really important.  If we spend a long time avoiding change because of our fear of failure, we can become stuck and feel hopeless.  Similarly, if we spend a lot of time going over and over our failures, without learning the lessons that comes with them, then that can hold us back too.

The bigger the goal, the likelier it is that you will have a detour or two along the way.  So again, anticipating that our plans may need reviewing from time to time will set us up to deal with hiccups as they arise, and ultimately get us to where we want to be quicker.

Stay in balance.

When we are going through a transition or change, it can be helpful to find some part of our lives which is stable and settled that we can retreat to.  Whether that is spending time on activities that we can lose ourselves in, or spending time with positive and uplifting people, having some time away can help us to process and rebalance.

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Why Do We Resist Change?

An image of a girl with her head in her hands

None of us want to stay the same forever.  But it can be hard to make changes, even when we know we need to.  So why do we resist change?

Some of the most common blocks and barriers are quite obvious when we think about change.  Namely fear.  And more fear!

Fear of the unknown.  Fear of failure.  Fear of getting it wrong.  Fear of looking stupid, or worrying about what other people will think.  These are the most common ones that we all experience at some point.

If you’ve ever experienced change, then it’s likely that you’ve come across many feelings like this.  And it’s completely normal.  When we choose to step outside of our comfort zone, we are entering into the world of the unknown.  And when we’re faced with the unknown, our brain can go into overdrive, as it tries to keep us safe.

This is a good thing, because it can stop us from taking unnecessary risk or putting ourselves in harms way.

But some element of fear can also be beneficial, because this is where we learn the most.  And overcoming that fear can be lead to a new level of confidence.  Adrenaline sports and activities for example give us a big old dose of dopamine, and give us a natural high.  And if you’ve ever challenged yourself to do something really scary, the confidence buzz you felt afterwards was possibly worth all the worry beforehand?  Maybe.

But there can also be some other side effects of change that we may not have considered.  For example, sometimes making a positive change for ourselves, can affect how others see us.  And we might (consciously or otherwise) not want to put ourselves in a position where we stand out.

Rather than worry about what people might think if we fail, we also worry about what they’ll say if we succeed.

We might feel that if we succeed at something, other people might not accept us, or we might not fit in anymore.

Again, this links into the fear element.   But a fear of success is probably less talked about.  It could be something to consider, if you’re feeling some resistance to change, but can’t work out why.

Either way, accepting that feeling uncomfortable is a part of the change process can help us to anticipate it more, or put in some safety factors.  If we anticipate what might happen, we can plan for it.

We can’t foresee everything that could possibly go wrong of course, none of us are fortune tellers.  But we can be more welcoming to change with a little practice.

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How Do We Transition Through Change?

An image showing the stages of transition from chrysalis to butterfly

Change.  We all experience it, whether we like it or not. 

And even when it is change of our own choice, it can still be difficult to transition through it.  

This month, I’ll be looking at the theme of ‘change’, because it seems that no matter how often we experience change, or how welcome it is, there are still blocks and barriers that we might encounter…or even put up for ourselves.   Even when we know change is going to bring something positive.  So why do we do it?

There are a number of models of change, and what they all have in common is that they talk about the various stages that we go through, if we want to make change work.  You might recognise some of these phases in some of the situation you’ve encountered:

Pre-contemplation

This is the phase before change,  when we’re either blissfully unaware or blinded to the fact that we need to change.  But we are most likely feeling the impact, either we feel stuck or we’re getting negative feedback from our life, which alerts us to the fact that something needs to  change.

Contemplation

This is where we start to think about what changes we need to make.  And more importantly, we  start to identify the positive things that could come from making change.  If you’re looking to make a change in habit or behaviour, this is really key, because focussing on what we will gain  can be a strong motivator.

Preparation

The preparation stage is exactly how it sounds. This is when we start planning, research and collecting information in readiness for making change.  Being prepared is great, as it helps us to set realistic timelines or goals, but it can be an easy phase to get stuck in.  We can be in danger of putting all our time and energy into planning, without actually getting started.

Action

By this stage, we’re already on the way to taking direct action towards our goals.  Even if we start small, once we get started, it’s much easier for progress to build.  We might need to experiment or take baby steps at first.  The important thing is that we keeping moving forward.

Maintenance

Another key step in making lasting change, is being able to maintain it.  How often do we aim for something, then lose momentum once we’ve achieved it?  If our main outcome is reaching a specific goal, it can be very easy to let our habits and routine slip.  Having a plan for maintaining change can help to keep you on track.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be looking at how we can make change work positively for us, and how we can deal with the blocks that can get in the way.

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The Perils of a Fixed Mindset

So, I started off in last week’s post looking at different forms of mindset, and how the most common that we hear about are the ‘growth’ or ‘fixed’ mindsets.  These terms would seem to suggest that we are either one or the other, and don’t take into account how we change and develop through our experiences. But why does it even matter?

Because the way we approach things is hugely affected by our mindset, and therefore our life experiences will be affected by our mindset. And if we have a fixed mindset, we will tend to think in two ways:

  1. We think of ourselves as having traits or the type of personality that is rigid – this is just how I am. This is me. I’m just unlucky, lazy, I can’t do this/that/the other.
  2. And conversely, we think that other people who are successful/happy or whatever, are just born that way. They are lucky, things seem to land in their lap. We can fail to recognise the work, study, effort that they’ve put in, to get to where they are.

Being closed off in this way can actually contribute to keeping us stuck. If I feel that I’m not a lucky person or good things don’t happen to me, then it can stop me from being open to new experiences, or putting myself out of my comfort zone. And if more rubbish things keep happening, then that is just reinforcing my beliefs.

Even taking the smallest steps to challenge our thoughts when we hear ourselves having these fixed ideas, can help us to grow. Change is possible. But it needs action kicking it up the backside first.

Next week, I’ll be looking at some tips on how we can start to develop a growth mindset, and get things moving.

 

 

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