The 7-Steps to Changing Anything in Your Life
“There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction” ~~Winston Churchill
The 7-Steps to Changing Anything in Your Life by Habib Wicks and Joshua Wayne
Today’s blog was written by Habib Wicks and Joshua Wayne, MA from a site called Peer Trainer, a website and company dedicated to helping people improve their lives. It is a great resource for making positive change in your life.
I found this article particularly applicable to the work I do as a personal and executive coach. Reaching your desired goals usually requires you to change your beliefs and your habits which can often be an uncomfortable and challenging process. There are, however, a few simple action steps given in the article below that will support you in making the necessary positive changes with more ease…….
Is there anything in your life that you would like to be different than it is right now?
Perhaps to lose weight? Meet a mate? Make more money?
This is the big fundamental issue we all face, because most of us would like to change or improve certain aspects of our lives. If you find yourself in this camp (and who isn’t there at least some of the time), then you will find the following steps very handy and useful. It is a process you can follow to “change anything in your life”.
1. Know What You Want Rather Than What You Don’t Want
No matter what, you have to decide what you do want so that you have something specific to move towards. The reality is that most of us focus on what we don’t want in our lives or don’t want to experience. For example:
➢ I don’t want to be alone anymore.
➢ I don’t want to be overweight.
➢ I don’t want to be broke anymore.
The reason this is so important is that we gradually create what we focus on in our lives. Understand this key concept: where you put your attention is where you get your results. Think about it: if most of your attention is invested in pushing away the things you do not want, you inadvertently remain focused on exactly those things.
Following the examples outlined above, you remain focused on being alone, being overweight, and being broke. Doesn’t sound too pleasant, does it? Of course not, but many people do it their entire lives.
Conversely, we are suggesting you focus on what you do in fact want to be true in your life. Instead of the above consider thinking:
➢ I look forward to having a beautiful man/woman in my life who is a great fit and match for me.
➢ I look forward to living happily at 125 pounds (or whatever your desired weight is).
➢ I look forward to making $250,000 next year.
Understand that this doesn’t mean that you necessarily now know exactly how you are going to make it happen. That would not be realistic. However, the creative process necessary to get you there will never be sparked if you’re endlessly focused on what you don’t want. Therefore focusing on what you do want is a crucial first step to catalyze yourself into positive, forward-moving action.
2. Cultivate the Belief That It’s Possible
In order to achieve what you desire, you must first truly believe it is possible. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how often people want an outcome in their life they don’t really believe is possible.
Consider the example of losing weight: many people want to enjoy the benefits of permanent weight loss, but when questioned they realize they don’t really believe it’s possible. Here is a great question to ask yourself:
On a scale of 1-10, where 1 means you don’t believe permanent weight loss (or whatever your goal is) is truly possible in your life, and 10 means you couldn’t possible believe it any more, where would you put yourself right now?
This is a great question to ask yourself frequently to chart your progress. The rest of the steps outlined in this article are essentially designed to increase your level of belief that your goals are possible in your life.
3. Cultivate the Overwhelming Motivation To Succeed
Some people are naturally motivated to make their goals and aspirations happen. For these people, it’s relatively effortless. While it would be nice if we were all like that all the time, not everybody necessarily has the urgency to bring their vision to light. They may have the capability, but not the urgency.
For those to whom this urgency does not come easily or naturally, they must at times “manufacture” the urgency, or else they run the risk of stagnation. One “trick” if you will, for doing this is to become very clear on the pain that inaction will ultimately bring. If you don’t take action to lose weight, meet a mate or increase your income, where will you be in a year? In 5 years? How about 10 or 20? Realizing the pain that will result from inaction is powerful motivator for many people. It can often then be enhanced by contrasting this pain/misery with the enormous pleasure that is going to result from taking action.
4. Change Your Patterns, Change Your Life
As a quick experiment, I want you to cross your arms. Notice which arm is on top and which is on bottom. Now reverse the order. If your left arm was on top, make sure it is now on the bottom.
Feels strange, doesn’t it?
Now try the same experiment by interlocking your hands so your palms are touching and your fingers are interlaced. Which thumb is on top- your right or your left? Now switch everything around so your fingers are still interlaced, but the other thumb is on top.
Funny how that works?
These are patterns in your life. They are physical patterns, but they are also metaphors for the emotional and psychological patterns in your life.
These patterns show up in how we think about ourselves (“I am good” vs. “I am bad”), how we think of others (“I like people like him” vs. “I don’t like people like him”) and what we expect to be true in our lives (“I can be thin and happy” vs. “I will be overweight my whole life”). Of course these are simple examples, but they communicate the basic point.
They also show up in our behaviors. For example, turning to food when we are stressed; acting with rage towards others when we are upset or scared (or bottling it up completely, by contrast); looking towards others for reassurance that we are “okay”.
Here is the important thing to understand: our current patterns have gotten us to EXACTLY where we are in our lives right now.
They have gotten us no more and no less. Therefore, if we stick to the same patterns, we are not going to change, and the circumstances of our lives are not very likely to change either.
In order to get the changes we want, we have to change our patterns; we have to change our approach. When it comes to weight loss, for example, maybe this means following the “Eat To Live” approach for a month and mixing it up.
Maybe it means being open to getting outside feedback and coaching to help you uncover and correct your negative patterns. Maybe it is as simple as saying “no” to somebody you generally say “yes” to or vice versa.
One great thing we find again and again at PEERtrainer is that an interruption in negative behaviors or emotions can lead to powerful results. We get lots of amazing fan mail at PEERtrainer and have for years. One of the key reasons for this is that we provide tools and services that help people interrupt their negative patterns.
What is interesting is that PEERtrainer is growing faster than it ever has. The reason is that we keep taking action and introducing new ways for people to interrupt their old patterns by creating new products and services. We have new email programs, new blogs, and a new “go at your own pace” coaching program that people are loving.
All these new tools increase the odds that we will provide what people need to help them make the change towards the life they desire. We know this because you tell us. We listen to you and bring new things to the table to create the most helpful offerings we can.
This is the same thing that you can do in your own life: keep creating new patterns and behaviors that replace the old ones you are letting go of.
5. Create New Patterns to Replace the Old
After you have learned to interrupt your old habits, begin the search for positive alternative behaviors. Options are all around you that you can start developing immediately. Ask yourself, “what is the experience I really want to be having in my life?” Ask yourself that question and “listen” to the answer that comes back from within. Where does it guide you? Where does it want to lead you? What new behavioral options does it incline you towards?
This is a very important step. If you neglect to do this, you will likely return to your old habits. The more you do this, the more you create positive neural pathways in your brain that increase your sense of pleasure and reduce your frustration or pain.
For example, there are an infinite number of things you can do at night instead of mindlessly snacking, or binge or emotionally eating.
Make a list of all the positive things you can do at night that don’t involve food (other than a basic, healthy dinner). Here are a few ideas to get you started:
➢ Become a night “exerciser”
➢ Join a volleyball league
➢ Join a bowling league
➢ Go to the theater
➢ Take an art class
➢ Hang out with friends.
Regardless, stay laser focused and persistent. Find the positive alternatives.
6. Reinforce, Reinforce, Reinforce (then Reinforce some more)
The sixth step is to reinforce this behavior over and over again. Repetition is the mother of skill. This is why we send out a tip
of the day email each and every day- it helps to reinforce positive patterns over and over again each day.
There is a reason why our coaching program is 12 weeks- it gives us time to not just teach, but also to reinforce the material. Throughout the week, you are sent activities, articles and assignments to help “condition those new muscles”.
Similarly, the online peer group you become part of in the coaching program provides you with a group of people who are also laser focused on developing new mental patterns. This total “reinforcement from all angles” is why people are having such great results, or are gradually developing an unshakeable belief that they will get where they want to be.
Hypnosis is another tool that you can use to attack the change process. PEERtrainer has written a review of hypnosis and weight loss. This is a proven reinforcement tool.
7. Embody the “Gratitude Attitude”
While this may sound rather cliché, it’s actually quite an important part of the process. Very often we are intensely results driven in our lives. This is a normal part of making a living and dealing with the daily concerns of life. That said, we are too often so busy getting from point A to point B (literally and figuratively) that we lose our ability to slow down and truly appreciate the mystery and wonder that is so much a part of life. I recognize this may sound “corny”, but I am still going to challenge you to really consider what I am saying.
I am talking about the kinds of things mystics and poets have written about for eons: the innocence of your child when she brings you a picture she has just colored in, a flower garden in spring, the sun setting- even things as simple as eating a meal with a friend.
We are all guilty of losing sight of the beauty and wonder around us much of the time, and yet there is real value in being able to “get back to it”. For me, the best way to “remember” these things is to be grateful, meaning to commit to find moments in my day to deeply appreciate my life; to be grateful for all that I have in spite of the normal ups and downs that come.
I think this is such an important part of the process because it brings our attention back to what we do have, rather than endlessly focusing on what don’t have yet. Shifting out attention to this positive place of gratitude is a great (and in my opinion necessary) “balancer” to the intense and avid pursuit to make changes in our lives and achieve our goals.
Gratitude reminds us that while it’s great to pursue our goals in life, having happiness and wholeness ultimately results from a choice that comes from within.
Dr. Lynn K Jones
Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Board Certified Coach and an Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US. Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry. She coaches individuals on achieving their reflected best selves. A MSW@USC faculty member, Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, CSWM, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment and Leadership to social work students at the University of Southern California.
I love this, Lynn! It has such a wealth of wisdom, and presents it in such an easy-to-understand way!! I’m going to share this on my wall. It deserves to have as wide an audience as possible! Thank you for bringing it to us.
LindaMenesez Thanks for sharing Linda. I hope your followers find value in these suggestions for change.
These are very useful tools that, if followed, can really produce results. Thanks for posting Lynn, this is great reinforcement to keep thinking about what you desire and believe you can achieve it.
SBMatchmaking You said the key word there, Lisa! BELIEVE what you can achieve. It takes practice changing our belief system that for the most part was ingrained when we were children, but it is worth it!
Now this is great advice and information on how to accomplish our goals with one very specific attribute. These key points all emphasis the positive: i.e. I want to lose weight is replaced with I want to live a happy, healthy life. I believe that many of us default to the negative view of life: how hard it is, I have to give up my favorite foods, I have to exercise which I don’t like. When we train ourselves to see life through the lens of positivity AND become proficient at time management, we can accomplish anything. Another positive attribute that may be helpful is the virtue of patience. We are all on a journey and we don’t arrive over night. So patience on achieving the flourishing, healthy life may take time. But then . . . what else do we have??
cliffwalters Reframing how we think about challenges from deficit and deficiency to abundance and proficiency can have a transformative impact. That said, you are so right that patience is a virtue in that such change is almost always incremental and therefore requires time. Thanks for sharing and adding that important point!
What a great article! I love how it really focuses on changing the thought processes we have and taking a more positive stance. It’s easy to be negative and focus on the bad, but that just pulls more of it in. These action steps empower one to turn that around and focus on the good, the desired, instead of the negative and unwanted. Thanks for sharing!
These are such great tips to remember when we are going through transitions. Change is hard for anything but remembering the positive is such a great force to move in a good direction. Thank you!
Drwrightson Remembering the positive is hard to do when we are paralyzed by fear because we don’t know what the future will bring as a result of the change, but as you say it is a great force that can really help us!
This is a wonderful article. Change is hard. Believing it is possible certainly would make the journey a lot more pleasant. Thank you for the reminder.
I am 50 so I have seen all the self help strategies before……BUT here I am again seeking some guidance…. The difference I see in your list is the emphasis on giving the change a person wants to see in their own life situation “the overwhelming motivation to change”. The key word in your explanation that resignated with me was URGENCY. Generating overwhelming motivation for a person that is struggling to get back in the work force sounds insurmountable. Thinking of it in the terms ” I MUST GET A JOB NOW……BEFORE WINTER HITS AND WINTER DOLDRUMS SET IN” is motivating!
Thank you for sharing your key notes. I am inspired ; )
I am pleased that you are inspired. The key to motivation is often a sense of urgency. We often know what to do and why, we just need to get going! All the best in your job search.