How to start changing your life
When we think of making big changes in our lives, we can experience feelings of confusion, doubt and overwhelm and those thoughts take us into panic mode, whereby we stop in our tracks with no action being taken for prolonged periods of time. Thoughts of change can be so overwhelming that we entirely avoid the start of the start process, when actually it is nothing to be feared. Imagine if you didn’t start at all, where would you be in six months? What would you be thinking to yourself?
To begin, we need to identify our ‘why’ and our ‘what’ before we work out ‘how’ we are going to achieve it; how can you plot a course to the target if you don’t know what the target is? So we need to start working on knowing what we want to change and importantly, why we want that different future for ourselves. Through my coaching I encourage and challenge my clients to explore and identify their motivations, their core values and where they want to be in the future; strengthening their resolution to make the necessary changes. During the sessions we breakdown the vision into a series of goals and choose purposeful actions that will create the desired future.
If you are thinking of making changes in your life but not sure where to start, I suggest these steps to pinpoint the areas you wish to change and breakdown the procrastination that can delay you from getting started;
The first step to starting is acknowledging to yourself that you wish to make a change and notice your thoughts and feelings associated with it. If you experience a sense of overwhelm, confusion or uncertainty, again acknowledge it and take responsibility by deciding in your mind’s chatter that you are going to take action to push passed that mind-set. Have a think, what are some of the phrases that you can use to propel yourself into a positive and productive state of mind? What mantra have you used previously that would help you now? Remember, you control the narrative that you tell yourself (your self-talk) so you can decisively say to yourself that today is the day that you are taking the first step on your journey of change.
2. Commit time to discovering what is important to you
Once you have confirmed to yourself that change is not only possible but now your intention, commit a portion of time to some much needed self-reflection; make yourself and your future a priority. Overwhelm and confusion can come from not knowing exactly what needs changing in your life or where to start first. Committing your time to self-reflection will help you to explore and identify what is important to you; enabling you to become specific with yourself and your future. Take the time and think about all the different areas (career, health, relationships, hobbies etc) that your life is comprised of and write a list so that you become clearer about the various strands of your life and how they are intertwined. As you do this, also consider what your personal values are; what are the principles you wish to live your life by? List your top ten core values (e.g. creativity, security, honesty etc) so that you start focusing on what fundamentally drives you. If you are struggling to identify your values, do an online search and look at the values lists available so that you can start to build a picture about what motivates you. What’s the top principle that you wish to live by? What won’t you compromise on?
3. Identify key areas and values
Once you have made your lists, take some time to consider and review them. Start to be specific; what do you consider the key areas of your life to be? What are your top three values? Take a fresh sheet of paper and identify your key priority areas with the highest at the top; consider what gives your life the greatest meaning and value. Now that you have your key life areas identified, reflect again by asking yourself; on a scale of 1-10, how happy am I with each of these key areas at the moment? What does my ideal in this area look, feel, and sound like? What will I be experiencing? How do my values in life link in? By asking these questions of yourself, you will see which areas are further from your ideal future than others and so prioritise which you need to begin to work on first. By taking the time to reflect and write down where you are compared to where you want to be, you have a greater level of clarity regarding the targets you wish to aim for; you have your ‘what’ linked with your ‘why’.
4. Decide on the area or areas that want to focus your attention on
From your reflections you will have clarity to start prioritising which areas of your life require your focused attention. Addressing all of what you want to change can seem like an overwhelming challenge. However, what about if you initially prioritised one key area above all others first; if you focused on only one area of your life to make a change in which would be first? What’s made you choose that area? How will working on that area first spread benefits to the other areas of your life? Once you have made your decision, remind yourself of that future ideal that you wrote down and think about the first target you want to aim for on that journey of change. Focus on the first milestone you want to achieve and visualise the results from making that change; how will you know when you have hit that first goal e.g. what will you be experiencing in your life?
5. Take action
Now you have your purpose and your future vision, it is time to consider the actions you are going to take that will move you closer to achieving that first milestone. First, allow yourself to enter the realm of possibility and start writing down all the options of what you could do to achieve your goal; get creative and have fun with some absurd ideas as well as the likely ones. Challenging yourself to think of options and write them down as you go because seeing all of them reminds you that there are numerous ways to move forward; you hold the power to instigate change. So when picking an action that you are going to commit to, think about what you want to achieve – how does this action align with your desired change? By taking it, what will it give you? Be specific with yourself and schedule a suitable time for that action so that it is a priority; plan your time so that you provide yourself with the best possible chance to succeed. Once you have taken one action, the next one and the one after that and the one after that become easier.
Through time and self-reflection you have begun to identify what you value, the areas of your life you want to change and the first step to creating a different future for yourself. Enjoy the process and see what you learn along the way; your transformation is a result of your actions.
(c) Katrina Ramsden