Want to take that big step, make a major change in your life, but do not know how to do it and this is discouraging you? Maybe you’re afraid because you’re walking into the unknown or feel anxiety because you can’t control all the factors and the final result is uncertain.
The bad news is that most of the major changes involve a great deal of uncertainty. The good news is that these changes often provide many benefits and almost always worth it. All you have to do is decide!
The three steps of change
Although each person is different, most momentous changes follow a precise pattern that also is quite effective as it helps us reduce uncertainty.
1. Denial. Actually the journey towards change begins not when we discovered the problem, but much earlier, when we deny it. Basically, at this stage people have no intention of changing neither are considering different goals. But the seed of doubt is already planted, the person is feeling uncomfortable about a situation that is not entirely satisfactory. It’s like a fog that stands between us and the problem, but we started to distinguish there’s something to be resolved, the need for change may be just around the corner.
At this stage, commonly happens that our defense mechanisms are activated and we tend to hide these pictures of the problems we saw through the fog. As usually, we prefer to move inside our comfort zone and into the safety of what we already know, it is normal to deny the problem, but the truth is that this is already being processed below the threshold of our consciousness. The seed of change is already germinating.
2. Contemplation. At this stage we are already aware that there is some kind of necessity that drives us to change. The fog has dissipated and we began to see things clearly. Gradually, details become clear, and we realize that is necessary to make a major change in our lives. In many cases it is a painful procedure and fraught with emotions, as we struggle between security guaranteed by our habits and the change, which represents the uncertainty and also involves a great deal of effort. In fact, there are people who spend years in contemplation without managing to resolve this dichotomy while others take action much faster.
3. Preparation. At this stage the person has already understood that change is fundamental and begins to prepare to achieve it. Basically, it is a preparation under a psychological point of view, that means acquiring true commitment to yourself and the mentalizing tasks ahead. We also tend to think of the people around us and how they might interpret the change, some may support us but others maybe not, in that case, be prepared for a possible departure or rupture.
How to know when you’re ready?
Preparation phase is crucial because without it we meet the risk of acting too hastily, be unprepared from the psychological point of view, which could lead to various conflicts and could even lead to an emotional blockage. We can think in terms of “laps”, as athletes do when training to run a marathon. However, we also face the risk of postponing the change indefinitely, simply because we are afraid.
How to know when the time to take the first step has come?
First of all, we must accept there’s no absolute certainty. There’s always a margin of error, a level of uncertainty and factors we can’t control. In addition, we have also to consider that we are never fully prepared, because often appears new challenges that we hadn’t planned. Therefore, waiting until we are 100% sure is the most direct way to immobility.
However, we will be prepared for change when:
– We have analyzed the largest number of alternatives available
– We discussed our options with others who have given us different points of view
– The current situation is stressful and unsatisfactory
– We imagined the worst case scenario and felt strong enough to face it
– We are convinced that this is the best solution at the moment (with the available resources and under the conditions we are experiencing).
And if you need an extra dose of motivation before taking the big step, remember that there is nothing worse than spending a lifetime wondering what would have happened if … you had had the courage to change.