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“Oh, you know me and change – we don’t seem to like each other”

“Why change if it isn’t broken?”

“I’m comfortable – why should I change?”

“Change scares the hell out of me!”

Do any of those statements sound familiar? In my experience of training or coaching thousands of people over the years, the number one reason people are not open to change is F-E-A-R.

That fear is very real to each individual. What is at the root of their fear?  It’s many things:

  • Fear of making a mistake, failure or looking stupid
  • Not knowing how to change
  • The insecure feeling of getting outside of one’s comfort zone
  • Lacking confidence
  • Not believing in being worthy of the change
  • Fear of losing people close to you

What has helped people get through change, again, is something very personal to each person.

Here is a 5-point checklist that different people have used – perhaps it will appeal to you.

1. Decide how badly you want the change. Determine what it is costing you not to change.

Example: Helen is friends with a group of women who make fun of her, don’t always include her and generally do not treat her as well as they treat each other. Questions I asked her are:

  • How do you feel when you are with these ‘friends’?
  • How important is it that you remain friends with them?
  • What would happen if you told them how you felt?
  • What would happen if you decided to longer be friends with them?
  • What will happen if you stay in this relationship?

We identified that Helen felt insignificant, unwanted, hurt and it magnified her sense of low self -esteem.  They were assertive women and she aspired to be strong like them. If she told them how she felt, she was afraid they would bully her or laugh at her. If she wasn’t part of that group, she would feel kicked out or rejected in some way. If she was to stay – she would continue to feel unhappy and hurt and have low self-esteem.

Through our discussion, she identified that by staying with the group, it would never change, even if she did speak up. She recognized that they did not share the same values of how to treat people. Even though she was afraid of never finding another group of friends again, she realized that she would be stuck in a pattern of low self-esteem unless she chose to do something about it.

All of a sudden, she started to feel a little bit empowered.  It was her decision to leave a situation that made her miserable. They were not rejecting her – she was choosing to walk away. She started to feel a sense of urgency to make the change. She felt quite different after she really looked at her situation and what was happening. He just needed to see it with a new lens.

2. If you don’t know how to make the change you want, research and get familiar with the activities required.

In Helen’s case, she looked up how to respond to bullies, how to assert herself, how to find friends and she even started reading about building her confidence. All of her research supported her goal to change her group of friends and learn to stand up for herself.

3. Choose the actions that will lead you to the change you want.

From there, Helen created the list of actions that she wanted to take. That was an important step – choosing what she felt comfortable with. It wasn’t easy for her; however, she truly wanted the change and knew that she had to do something to make it happen. Now she had a plan.

4. Start slow and implement your plan. One action at a time.

Helen started with activities that created the self-awareness of who she is and what she values.

By creating a ‘personal foundation’ for herself, she started to build her confidence.  She then learned ways to stand up for herself including what to say to others. Again, her confidence continued to build.

As she gained new awareness with each of her action steps, she felt ready to move to the next one. It was at her own pace.

5. Keep a journal and reflect on your progress.

Helen kept track of each accomplishment and setback. She recorded when she had courage and when she was afraid. She wrote down what she learned about herself and other people. She specifically highlighted what she was most proud of.

She learned that there were no ‘failures’ just ‘experiences’.  From those experiences, she learned. Again, she continued to build her confidence.

I am so proud of Helen. She went from being timid and unsure to someone who will now say – I am afraid, but I’m going to try anyway.

Every time she wants to change something in her life, she uses her 5-point checklist. I encourage you to give it a try!

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