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.

Photo credit:  Suzanne D Williams via Unsplash.com

When Does A Challenge Become A Problem?

A small child stands at the bottom of a staircase

We all know that in order to grow, we need to do things we haven’t done before, or that we’re not entirely comfortable with.  But when does a challenge become a problem? And what’s the difference between the two?

Often when we’re faced with a challenge, we see it as a barrier or a problem which is going to stop us moving forwards.  If we’re setting out to achieve a goal, then we’ve usually planned our route and have an idea of where we want to be to, and how we’re going to get there.

But things are rarely that straightforward.  Life happens, and other things get in the way. We might need to make a detour, or rethink our plans.

This much is fairly inevitable.  Think about some of the biggest achievements that you’ve experienced.  Would to say it was an easy and effortless journey?  Or did you need to make some adjustments?

And when you think about that achievement, would it have still felt as special if you hadn’t been tested, or overcome things that you encountered on the way?  I’m guessing not.

And if you have had an experience like this, then it may well have changed your opinion about how you feel about challenges.  Because the more challenges we experience and overcome, the more confident we feel about starting new things.

And we are far more likely to appreciate those things we had to work for, than those which didn’t take as much effort.

But what about problems?  A problem is also something that can cause a barrier or blockage in our progress.  But the real difference between a challenge and a problem is our mindset towards it.

Often when we’re faced with something we perceive to be a problem, we become far more despondent about it.  A problem can involve situations or issues which are outside of our control, as opposed to a challenge which might be calling on us to stretch our own abilities.

Or perhaps we have become so rigid in our thinking that we struggle to see a way around the problem, because we’re lacking in the creativity we need to change course.

When we are active participants in our self development, then challenges are vital in providing us with opportunities to develop new skills and build our inner strength.  It also helps us to be a more open thinker, and helps us to consider the various routes to meeting an outcome, rather than focusing on one sole possibility.

If you find that you get easily put off when things don’t go to plan, or you find it difficult to see how you can overcome issues, then taking some steps introduce challenges into your life can help you to work on growing your confidence.

The more we seek to actively welcome challenges, the more used to them we become.  And we become more aware of our limitations and our potential.

Be willing to take that first step and embrace challenge, and you’ll gain far more than you could by staying where you are.

Photo credit: Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

How To Stay Focused

Arrow hitting a target

Rounding up this month’s theme by sharing a few ideas of how to stay focused.

Over the last month, I’ve also talked about things that can get in the way and what happens when we’re not focused, so check out the previous posts if you need some further tips too.

Remember Your Why

Having the end goal or outcome in mind is vital – if you don’t know what you’re aiming for, then you won’t achieve it. Seems obvious, but it’s easy to get distracted by shiny things on the way, so keep coming back to your ‘why’.

But Be Flexible

If your ‘why’ has changed or the goalposts have moved, be flexible enough to alter your course. Sticking to a plan that is no longer working or relevant will hold you back. If you need to change,  it will give you better momentum in the longer term.

Eliminate Distractions

Being aware of where your time and energy goes can help to get rid of things that will distract you. Whether it’s your own actions, such as scrolling social media or making unhealthy choices. Or external energy zappers, such as people who need your attention, but aren’t supportive in return.  Be aware of where you might need to set some boundaries around your time.  Be firm but fair to make sure that your needs are being met too.

Find Your Tribe

Connect with others who have similar goals. It’s difficult to keep motivated when no one else around you ‘gets it’.  If you can find people who have been where you are, or are on the same journey, it’s so helpful.

Stay In Balance

Keep a healthy balance of all the other things going on in your life too. When you take time away from goal-getting, you allow space for your brain to assimilate the learning you’ve been doing, and it creates space for creativity. The best ideas usually come when you’re at rest…for lots of people it’s in the shower or washing the dishes.

Accountability

Regular check ins are key. As with ‘remember your why’, being able to recognise if something’s not working, or other areas of your life are being neglected, can help you to make changes quicker.

Just some food for thought if you’re looking to stay focused.

Photo by Ricardo Arce on Unsplash

9 Questions To Ask When You Find It Difficult To Focus

A jigsaw puzzle with a missing piece, representing loss of focus

How long do you spend thinking about a problem?  And how long do you spend thinking about the solution?  There are some questions we can ask ourselves when it’s difficult to focus.

When we have a problem or issue that we need to resolve, it’s so easy to get caught up in a spiral of negative thinking.  We go round and round, stewing on what’s gone wrong, and we become focussed on what we’re not happy about.

Solutions focussed therapy approaches problems by looking at the desired end result, and works backwards.  It can be helpful if you find that the same issues keep coming up, or you have cycles of negative thoughts or habits.

Taking some time to think through our issues, or journaling our thoughts can help to work through what’s going on, and helps us discover possible solutions.

Here are some prompts that you could use:

  • Where are you now on a scale of 0-10?
  • Where would you like to be – what’s possible right now?
  • What would need to happen for this score to improve?
  • Which elements can I control in this situation?
  • What can I change?
  • When or how could I do this?
  • How would things look in one week/one month’s time if I took this action?
  • How committed am I to taking this action?
  • What’s stopping me?

When we have recurring issues or problems, we tend to catastrophise, and we think that everything is failing.

We lose sight of the good things or our successes.  And we can underestimate our strengths and skills because our focus is all about the problem.

By being more aware of where our focus is, we become more open to solutions and ideas.  If we can imagine things being different and more positive, rather than focussing on what’s wrong, we can move forward.

So, if you’re finding it difficult to focus, I hope these questions will help.

 

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

From little acorns…

From little acorns….

So, how’s January going? Whether you started the year with big intentions or are still easing yourself in gently, it’s all good.

An hour is made up of minutes. A week is made up of days. A year is made up of months.

Everything starts out in one place, and then develops into something else. Nothing gets from here to there in a second (ok, maybe a MotoGP bike!).

All of the separate elements come together to make something bigger, but each element also stands on its own merit.

A simple acorn is a beautiful thing in its own right…cute as a button, with it’s own little hat. Even if it did nothing but exist in this state, we could still appreciate it. But knowing what we know about the majestic oak that it’s destined to be, all proud and mighty, just adds to the wonder of it.

Every dream, goal, or little acorn, holds the key ingredient to turn one little thing into something even more wonderful…potential.

Photo credit: Eriks Abzinovs @pixworthmedia via Unsplash.com

Are you holding yourself accountable?

Consistency is key…but accountability is not far behind, surely?

We’ve reached that stage in any ‘normal’ January where the promises and goals of the New Year might be starting to slip.  (Disclaimer: This year it’s ok if things have gone a little bit awol!)

But some form of monitoring needs to happen if we want to see improvements and instigate the changes that got us motivated to begin with.   We can get caught up in the planning, and list making, and daydreaming about how productive we’re going to be this week, and then life happens.

There is no bigger regret than the things we didn’t do, and it is really easy to let other stuff take priority.  I’ll catch up next week…next month…I’ll leave it until the better weather…. Sound familiar? Me too.

Yes we need to be a bit more kind to ourselves right now.  But being kind also means holding ourselves to account every now and then, and having a bit of a pep talk with ourselves.  Remember why you started, remember what you’re doing this for.

Make a diary note or appointment to catch up with yourself along the way.  And write your “reasons why I’m doing this” next to it.   Just in case you start to forget!

 

And how awesome is this image btw!?!  Photo credit to Marten Newhall @laughayette via Unsplash.com

A Year Of More Joy

This is an exciting time of year for any fellow stationery lovers…new diary, new calendar, new planner, new journal!!

I love sitting down at the New Year and writing in all the important dates and appointments, however these are still a little bit thin on the ground at present (thanks Tier 4!).  But it’s still nice to have things to plan for, and look forward to.

When I looked back on how I spent 2020, I found that most of last years activity was based around work…work work, blog work, workout work.  2020 brought some much needed positive shifts and new opportunities of course, but there wasn’t much room for fun.

So this year, I’m making sure that I also allocate time to doing things just for the sheer joy or fun of it.  No expectations. No targets. No achievements.   Just taking time out to recharge and reset.

How often do we plan in appointments for the fun stuff?!  We make room for the other ‘stuff’, the non negotiables and the ‘I must do this’ diary notes, but including time to create the joyful moments and make the memories should be just as important.

When I look back at the end of 2021, I want to remember these times as well as the achievements – the smiles, the laughter, the warm glow of feeling happy.   

So welcome 2021 – the year of more joy.

 

Photo via Unsplash.com

Is procrastination really the thief of time?

31D59163-4AA5-4B9D-8612-6CA451AB9B25

I happened to notice that today is “Fight Procrastination Day”.  That’s a great topic for a post I thought…if only I could get round to writing something.  I jest of course!

But it did get me thinking – has procrastination become a bad word?  The idea of nominating a day in which we all dress up as superheroes to wrestle with our wandering minds and distractions left me a bit confused.  It’s like when you were a child at school and were told to stop staring out of the window and daydreaming (that’s a whole other blog post!).

Procrastination is often seen as coping mechanism which we use to avoid (consciously or unconsciously) events or actions which we perceive to be challenging.  We’ve all experienced it – knowing we need to make an important phone call but we keep putting it off, or needing to meet a deadline but we can’t get started.  Often it is because we are focussing on the possible outcomes and we start to project our fears onto how it may play out…what if I give my opinion and they don’t like it, what if I submit this work and it’s not good enough.  It can become problematic when we repeatedly avoid or delay situations by giving in to those fears.  It can affect how other people view us, and it also leads to greater frustration and doubt within ourselves.

But I also think that procrastination can be helpful. It’s like having an inner alarm that sounds when we are about to do something new, and makes us that little bit more cautious.  When we have something that is really important to us, taking that pause to think about what we are going to do, and considering it’s possible implications can be a good thing.  Listening to those fears can highlight where we need to do a little more preparation or learning, which can in turn increase our confidence.  It can stop us going gung-ho into situations and not giving it our best attention or efforts.  And it can also help flag up when we are getting into something that we might not be entirely on board with.  Often in these fast paced times, we do things on autopilot, and have little time to sit and reflect and think, actually is this job/relationship/whatever making me happy?

Whoever said ‘procrastination is the thief of time’ may well have been on to something…but spending time on something which isn’t truly meant for you, can be equally as wasted.

Photo credit:  TK Hammonds via Unsplash