Approaching Change

I was sixteen years old when I first asked someone to dance. I felt completely out of control: my body would not move, I could hardly speak, I was sure I’d be laughed at, and I felt terrified. Somehow I managed to complete the task despite all those unpleasant internal conditions. How did I do it? How do people take action even though they sometimes feel compelled to stay put?

By looking at past achievements, you can define your personal change process. Here is a chance to discover your own history and preferred methods of change. Please take some time to do this exercise.

  1. Make a list of the times you consciously moved forward with something you wanted to do for a really long time. For instance, “When I decided to go back to school,” or “When I started my own business.” The more time you give to this, the longer your list will be.
  2. What were the obstacles you had to overcome? Study the list and ask yourself how you managed action despite the costs and risks. Make notes for each one, and be sure to identify specific fears or roadblocks.
  3. What strengths did you need to overcome your uncertainties? Make another list of the personal qualities you applied to win your goals. Some examples are: courage, desire, patience, commitment, confidence, perseverance, surrender, planning, discipline, inspiration, creativity, and learning.

You now have a sort of historical map in front of you. Take some time studying it. I recommend you share it with a friend if you need help fleshing it out. You’ll find your map contains information, instructions, and some directions.

Now think about the ways you are trying to change your life today. Perhaps you want to start doing something new. Or, you want to stop doing something unproductive. Sometimes, it’s both. For example, you want to stop spending money and start saving it.

Frequently, I hear people say things like, “I can’t believe I was so afraid to start my own business. I could never imagine my life any other way.” I bet you can look back on some of your successes and wonder how you could have lacked confidence to change. What will you say five years from now about the changes you are contemplating today? What qualities and actions will you identify as the ones that got you on your way?

When I look back at how I finally got my legs moving toward my dancing partner, I realize that the encouragement of my best friend pushed me off my perch. From this experience, I understand that encouragement is an essential ingredient if I’m going to make any kind of big risky move. Nowadays, I usually don’t take action without at least one good coach.

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