It’s a bit like the process that happens when someone close to you passes away. There are defined stages that people experience, and depending what stage you’re in, you’ll be more or less open to making big changes in your behaviors that will bring a change in your life.
Lots of people are ready for things to change around them. (Or so they think!) Pay attention to people around you over the next few days and I’ll bet you’ll hear people say things like:
- This just isn’t right. Someone should do something about it.
- If I was in charge, it wouldn’t be this way.
- If I could only have more (money, time, energy, etc.), things would be different.
- Things just keep getting in my way.
- When I win the lottery I will….do something extraordinary.
These folks feel they are ready for change to happen to them. But they lack the mindset that allows the to DO SOMETHING about their own situation. Instead, they stay in a place of circumstance, blame, and helplessness.
One of the guru’s of change and leadership during change is John P. Kotter. In his book, The Heart of Change (2002, Harvard Business School Press), Kotter talks about the first step to changing anyone’s behaviors - increase the urgency.
Until and unless you feel that changing is urgent, you aren’t going to change. You might think about change and wish for it, even pray for it, but until you are shoved out of your comfort zone and the urgency is clear to you, lasting change rarely happens.
Think about the last diet you went on. What were the motivating factors to make you wake up one day and decide, “Today is the day!”? I would wager it was a sense of urgency that something must be done. Maybe you worried about your health, or your jeans didn’t fit that day. Something happened to make your urgency increase. And this made you take the small steps towards change that day that you needed to take. It’s the same in pretty much every area of our lives.
Until you’re ready TO change, and not just ready FOR change, you probably won’t make any progress towards your goals. If you’re stuck and can’t figure out why, this might be it! You might not be ready yet and you need to push through the other stages of change that are necessary for your urgency to increase. This is true in our personal lives, in our careers and in our businesses.
Another way of looking at this is the change curve below. Change is a process, and it isn’t really until you get to step 4 that things really start to change! The first four steps feel pretty rotten, but they can also go really fast if you don’t let yourself get stuck in them.
You can see that the curve goes down before it goes up. This shows how you probably feel about life during these early stages. But once you do get through the letting go phase, things start feeling fantastic! And if you stick with it, your motivation and productivity actually goes higher than it was before you made the change.
So where are you on this curve? Are you still just waiting for your life to change around you, or are you ready TO make your life change? If it’s the latter, it’s time to hire a coach and get to work! But if not, it’s time to look a bit deeper into those excuses you’re telling yourself.
Change starts with one person, with one moment, with one decision, and with one small action. What action can you take today to move one teeny tiny step closer to the changes you want in your life? Go and do it!
Over the next seven weeks, I’m going to be going into each of these stages more in-depth. We’ll look at how you can coach yourself through them and how to know when you are stuck and need a bit more help. So stay tuned!