As human beings, were creatures of habit. No wonder making a major life change is so hard! But it can be done. Follow these 10 Steps for Making a Major Life Change, one easy step at a time:
1. Identify the price of maintaining the status quo. Not making the change you know you need to make is costing you. Do some soul searching; consult with trusted allies, or journal to yourself to uncover the payoffs you’re receiving, and the prices youre paying for maintaining the status quo. When you get that the price of not making the change is greater than the payoff, you’ll be more committed to moving forward.
2. Create a reserve of everything. We dont always have to make a difficult change from where we are now. If we have issues with money, time, space, emotional support, skills, etc., make a plan now to get more than you need in these areas, creating a stronger foundation from which to launch in your new direction. Keep in mind that it’s better to be over prepared and arrive at your destination than to fail because you were just a hair short of having what you needed to get there.
3. Forgive self-judgments. Guilt is rampant in our culture. So is the vendetta against selfishness. Suffering is supported and nurtured by friends, family, religions, etc. So it’s not surprising that many of us, deep down, don’t feel we deserve to have what we want. For example, maybe you feel you’re not good enough or deserving of the life you really want. Or maybe you feel that the change you’re about to make will hurt someone close to you. Or you may feel that you’re not smart enough, resourceful enough, bold enough, or just plain “enough” to make this change. Acknowledge these judgments then forgive yourself for holding these false perceptions about who you really are. Because the truth is, they are only ideas, many of which are irrational, and you will create yourself each moment based on the new idea you hold about who you are.
4. Stop complaining. Are you complaining about being in the situation you’re in? Are you blaming others? Or have you accepted full responsibility for your situation and just beat yourself up for not making the change? If any of the above are true, you are playing the victim and youre forfeiting your power to make the change you say you want. Even if you’re blaming yourself for not being happy or for not having the courage to make the change, then part of you is beating up on another part of yourself, hence there’s a victim in there somewhere. To the degree you play the role of victim, you lose power you could be using to move forward. So get behind yourself completely and own your full power to create the life you desire, no matter what.
5. Give up analysis that breeds paralysis. We are so conditioned to figure things out before we leap, that sometimes we become paralyzed to take the actions our bodies are directed to take from the beginning. This is particularly true if youre an engineer, scientist, or other type of technical person who experiences the world more through analysis than through feeling. If youre stuck in a thinking pattern rehashing the same ideas over and over, trying to figure out what will happen if, then you’re stuck in a mind-loop. It’s time to quit thinking and start doing. Feel in your body what it wants to do, then just do it! The information you’re seeking may only be available after you take action anyway. Wisdom often comes from experience, not from analysis.
6. Develop a compelling vision. Leaving a longstanding relationship or a long time career can be very frightening. This is because if what we have is all we see, then to give it up means well have nothing left. This is a terrible illusion. New opportunities, relationships, resources, connections, and ideas always rush in to fill space in our lives. But first, you have to make the space for something new, and second, create a clear vision of what your life will look like once your change is complete. The vision of your new future eliminates the fear of the unknownwhich can keep you stuck for a long time! Your vision will form the matrix on which you will create your new life and give you the inspiration and courage you need to move on.
7. Risk failure. Does your fear of failing keep you stuck? If so, define what failure looks like to you. Imagine the worst possible thing happening. Can you live with that? Can you make course corrections before it happens or after it happens? The answer is almost always “yes.” So, please, do yourself a favor, remove the word “failure” from your vocabulary. Realize that each action simply yields a resultone you want or one you don’t want. Use this as feedback from the universe and take the next logical step. From this perspective, mistakes are just indications of a course correction and not to be taken personally. Pilots are checking their compass all the time and making course corrections based on this feedback. They’d never get anywhere if they took every off-course reading as a personal failure. Give up the concept of failure and take flight!
8. Recruit your inner warrior. Within each of us there is an instinctual aspect built for bold, decisive action. It looks out, not only for our survival, but also for our soul’s mission. It sends messages in the form of feelings in your body. They may come as “gut” feelings, or just a sense of “knowing” that has no rational foundation. If youre facing a difficult change, and have “contemplated” yourself into a corner, it may be time to let your inner warrior take over for a while. Just act as if you “know” what to do, then do it without thinking about it until after it’s done.
9. Get support to help you through the change. Big life changes can be overwhelming. Theres no shame in asking for help from friends, relatives, or from a coach. In fact, enough of the right kind of support can make a seemingly difficult change, relatively easy. For me, being a former lone-ranger, asking for and accepting help from others was difficult at first, but really nice once I got used to it. Now I wouldn’t think of starting a major project or making a big change without relying on my support system of close and loving friends, and my coach. Do whatever is necessary to make change easy on yourself. You’re worth it!
10. Don’t go to your deathbed wondering what would have happened if… It’s easy for us to forget how short our lives really are. Many of us live as if we’ll never die. We waste away our hours and days working jobs we hate, living just for the weekends, or “putting in time” until retirement, living most of our lives like zombies. We may live in a relationship that is draining and disempowering thinking it might magically get better somehow, someday. We deny our feelings or make excuses for frittering our lives away. This is insane. Stop it now! Our lives are so precious and so short. I challenge you to project yourself forward to your death. It’s real and it’s coming for you! See yourself on your deathbed and ask yourself if the life you’re living now is all you dreamt it to be. Write your own obituary today. How close are you to living your passion? Let this vision be a motivator to get off your butt and follow your dreams!