Phases of Change: Phase 3 (Resistance/Anger) and Phase 4 (Letting Go)
The last couple of weeks, I’ve been writing about the psychology of change and how we can use this to understand ourselves and build our businesses as we change and grow into full fledged Do-Gooders.
When you are facing any kind of change in your life, you’ll experience several different phases of emotion. And because our emotions have such an impact on our work (we are heart-driven people, after all!), they will naturally impact on our ability to get things moving in our businesses.
The Change Curve (graph below) can help you understand why there are times when suddenly building your new life as a self-employed Do-Gooder feels hard and slow, and why sometimes it all suddenly comes much more easily to you. As we implement changes and begin to really understand them, our motivation and ability to perform at top levels increases. But your emotions and where you are on the Change Curve also can make you feel stuck if you don’t have the tools to move past them into the later phases of Change.
Today I want to focus on how to get yourself moving through Phase 3 – Resistance/Anger and Phase 4 – Letting Go.
It’s totally normal to start feeling some pretty negative emotions once you realize that big changes are needed in your life. We experience frustration with ourselves for letting things go on for so long without taking action. We start beating ourselves up for not noticing the signs earlier. And we get angry that it seems to come so easily to other people. It’s all just unfair and annoying! In Phase 3, this resistance and anger feels very strong, and sometimes, even overwhelming. Your motivation takes a serious dip during this phase and the next one. It feels like you’re stuck, like there isn’t any hope, like things are worse than they’ve ever been.
This is the point at which some people really do get stuck. It feels so bad that instead of pushing through it and moving forward, they go back to the earlier phases of change like denial. It was all so much better then! They start wondering if maybe it isn’t all so bad to just stay the same. For people questioning self-employment, questions about security, finances, health insurance, and even missing the commute (!) start to emerge. Our self doubts start shouting at us, “Who do you think you are? You’re not nearly good enough/smart enough/etc. to do this!” So we go back to denial, where it’s easy to pretend that everything is okay again.
But this is not how we serve the world and live the lives we were meant to live. If we allow ourselves to give up at this point, we rob the world of our gifts, and we live small lives of unfulfilled potential. Tragedy!
Pushing through Phase 4: Letting Go is sometimes tricky. This is when you really need to make sure you have great supporters, inspiration and people around you that won’t let you quit. Letting go is a scary part of change, but in order to really make things different you must let go and get ready for new things in your life. Making space for new ideas, creativity and even money is a necessary part of this journey. But this takes extraordinary courage sometimes, and it also means you have to learn to trust yourself, quiet those doubtful voices, and take a big leap of faith. (Remember, courage isn’t about not being afraid. It’s about doing what you have to do regardless of being afraid!)
Here are some tips for moving through these two tricky phases so you can start to see and feel the good stuff on the other side:
- Talk it through. Seriously, you need a coach, a mentor or someone who just oozes positivity to help you really expose those negative self doubts. They can’t live in the light, so once you put them out there, the majority of them will just evaporate!
- Keep focused on your Vision. You need to learn how to inspire yourself through the fear and worry about the future. This is going to be a key leadership skill when you are leading your movement and changing the world! Might as well start practicing it now. Get really, really, REALLY clear on what you want from your life and then hang onto that Vision as tightly as you can.
- Stop trying to plan it all out. You can’t possibly know everything that is going to happen to you on this journey. If you spend too much time trying to think about it, you’ll get completely wound up tight into your own head. All that planning stuff will be important, but right now, you need to let your heart lead you!
- Take baby steps. Even the smallest action to move you an inch closer to your Vision is enough during these phases. Be kind and gentle on yourself and allow yourself the time to just inch along for a little while until it starts to feel better to take big leaps. Do what feels somewhat safe right now, but what will move your in the direction you want to go instead of allowing yourself to go back into the safety of denial (which is just an illusion of safety anyway!)
If you can give yourself permission to work through this dip in the change curve, you’ll be less likely to panic and run backwards into your old life. The new one is there, waiting for you! Just keep marching forward bit by bit, and soon it will feel so much better!
Next week, we’ll continue our change curve journey and I’ll talk more about how it will feel and what you can look like when you start going back up that curve. (Spoiler alert! It’s awesome!!)