Anyone who wants to grow also has to want to change. True growth is a relentless, determined process of discarding baggage, confronting realities, embracing new ideas and thinking, stretching the boundaries.
And it’s easy to get stuck.
There are five true statements that I believe are key to whether anyone will overcome what holds them back or actually realize the change and direction they say they seek for themselves.
1. Right now I feel (emotion) ______________________ about me or my current situation.
What emotion? Tired? Frustrated? Hopeful? Bewildered? Emotions are the fuel of change. Emotions inform, shape, even distort our sense of our world. Be honest about exactly what emotion you are feeling is the first step in change, especially if you’re tired of feeling that way.
2. The reason I feel this way is because (my role)_______________________.
Start the rest of this sentence with the word “I” and stick with it. It does no good to say “it” (some outside force) or “they” (some other party) has done this to you. What are you willing to own? Did you make bad choices, allow choices to be made for you? Made choices for the wrong reason? Absent some medical conditions or a meteor striking the Earth, most of where we are is the result of decisions we have made.
3. Who I want to be or where I want to be instead is (name it, clearly)_____________________.
Being able to express a future state creates a pull toward a desired place, instead of a rueful push to get out of where you are now. We usually fail to be bold here, fearing we may fail, but we respond better to bold moves rather than careful steps.
4. What I’m willing to lose or leave behind to get to where I want to be is (something that may have mattered, but cannot now) ___________________________.
Change is not just saying yes; it’s about having the discipline and focus to say no to what does not contribute to your change or drains energy from the direction you need to take. We can do a lot of things in life; we just need to be honest about the bill. And pay it.
5. What will I do today — right now — as the first step to show my commitment to this change?
People who say they are going to go on a diet next month never do because they use a distant date as their escape valve. Deciding to change is not a decision; acting on that decision is the only thing that is decisive. It starts today. Or it never will.
6. Starting now, I will get help on this from (who, not what) ________________________.
Personal change is hard. You need a champion, but one who is capable of guiding a change effort and willing to put the relationship at risk to hold you accountable, measure your progress, and affirm you along the way.
Note that this started by calling these true statements. The point is that we have to speak truth to ourselves at every step or we’re kidding ourselves that we will realize the transformation we desire. Most of what holds us back is not the truth, but our unwillingness to confront it.