Evaluating Your Change Readiness

 

Charles Swindoll, the founder of Insight for Living, said, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

Whether it’s a change in your job, health, family, relationships, or life in general, change is an inevitable part of life.

Most people don’t like change. For many of us, change can be difficult or uncomfortable. This is true regardless of whether the change is forced upon us, planned, unexpected, or self-created. Why? Because we are giving up familiarity in exchange for the unfamiliar and unknown.

Some people certainly seem to handle change better than others. Most of us know at least one person who has successfully made a major change in their lives such as quitting smoking, losing weight, or walking away from their “Sure Thing” job. Then there are the others—and maybe you count yourself among these people —who give up the minute it gets tough or frightening.

The purpose of this article is to help you evaluate your “change readiness.” Because the secret to success lies in taking an honest look at your attitude towards change and how ready you really are to make those changes.

First Things First

The fact that I try new things in itself is a victory. Lynn Collins

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of “Firsts” and doing things for the first time.

Thinking about the last few weeks made me realize how many Firsts I’ve encountered – and how uncomfortable I’ve been.

Here are just a few:

  • For the first time in 33 years, I own a car that isn’t a Nissan Pathfinder.
  • For the first time in 20 years, I’m working in a new job for a new company.
  • And for the first time in 11 years, I have only one dog, Rhaegar. Sadly, I had to assist my Shiloh Shepherd, Kaylar, in crossing over the Rainbow Bridge on July 22.

If I’m being honest, I’m not a big fan of Firsts – unless I have some level of confidence before I even begin that I’ll succeed. I’m sure there’s a multi-syllabic word for that syndrome, but I call it, “not wanting to look stupid.”

Many people lead a routine life for all kinds of reasons. We take the same road to work each day, read the same newspapers or types of books, eat at the same restaurants, follow the same schedule on weekends, watch the same channels on TV. And along the way, our “Firsts” begin to slowly evaporate.

Yes, I know firsts can be inspiring, invigorating, and instructive. But sometimes they’re also disheartening, unnerving, and unsettling – and all about change!

Of course, at the heart of this, for most of us, there’s fear – real or imagined – of doing something for the first time. And, sure, someone can ask us, “What’s the worst thing that could happen if you try this?” You might think the answer is obvious; in most cases, trying something new is probably not life-threatening.

But I don’t think it’s that simple. Because each of us has our own understanding of “worst things.”

Sometimes the best FIRST step is to examine how you feel about trying new things, what you define as “worst things,” and how ready you are when unexpected firsts happen in your life.

Ask yourself this:

  1. When was the last time you did something for the first time?
  2. When doing something for the first time, how do you feel?

Many people can’t think of anything. Their lives are so routine they haven’t done anything new – unnerving and unsettling new – for years. Because of this, they’ve become fearful of trying new things.

But if we can overcome this fear, we can learn to enjoy doing new things. It can even be stimulating, satisfying, and fun.

At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself for the last few weeks!

Identifying Your Feelings and Perceptions About Change

“The first step toward change is awareness.” Nathaniel Branden

What if you’ve just been presented with a change and you’re feeling negative or anxious about it? It’s going to happen to every one of us at some point.

Some people have a perception that says, “Change is good, even if (or especially if) it means leaving my comfort zone.” Research shows that 38% of people like to leave their comfort zone.

By contrast, there’s the other 62% of people who either don’t like to leave their comfort zone or do so only occasionally – and only under duress.

However, the overwhelming majority of the time, it’s not the change itself, but rather our perception of it, that makes the situation appear negative. So how can we change the perception?

You begin by looking at how you currently feel about change in general. And asking yourself four simple questions can help you get started:

  1. How does the thought of change make me feel?
  2. How do I feel, act, or respond when something changes in my life?
  3. How would my friends and family describe my ability to handle change?
  4. How do I feel, act, or respond when faced with the possibility of change or even thinking about initiating a change?
Identifying Your Resistance to Change

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn.” Helen Keller

If the pandemic showed us anything, it’s that change, whether on a personal level or on a global scale, is definitely achievable.

Resistance to change is the unwillingness to adapt to new circumstances or ways of doing things. It can happen with individuals, relationships, or within organizations. There are many reasons for resistance, but at its heart, resistance is rooted in fear – fear of the unknown, of failing, of not doing something “perfectly.” People are biologically wired to look for patterns and predictability, and any uncertainty — even if it’s anticipated or positive — can trigger anxiety.

Our minds are amazingly adaptive, but an individual’s brain can have a hard time focusing if fear is a concern. This is because while some parts of the brain are actively engaging with new information, other parts of the mind are shutting down.

To begin to remove any self-imposed barriers, we need to identify the causes of our resistance.

So to get started, think about a change you haven’t done yet even though it’s really important to you.

Then, ask yourself the following questions about that change:

  1. What’s getting in the way or slowing me down?
  2. How much do I really want it?
  3. How can I make it feel more achievable?

Let’s take a close look at each of these questions.

  1. What’s getting in the way or slowing me down?

With any change there will be barriers, things that will either slow us down, distract us, or knock us off course. Even when we’re feeling highly motivated to change, too many barriers, if not addressed, will cause us to run out of steam, lose focus, or become exhausted.

These barriers may be lifestyle. For example, if giving up alcohol, our resolve will be tested when meeting friends in a bar. If adopting a strict vegan diet, then restaurant food choices may be more limited. Other barriers may be our fear of the uncertainty of the change or the consequences if it doesn’t go as expected. Or, we may have to give up something that turns out to be harder than thought it would be.

These obstacles will frustrate the change process and make it harder. They will use up valuable motivational energy, like leaving the parking brake on while trying to drive.

Imagine a new exercise routine where three times a week you’re going to get up early and exercise before work. However, once you’re out of bed at 5:30 AM but you can’t find your sweats in the dark, the dog has hidden your shoes, and the bike has a flat tire, there’s a real chance that you’ll abandon the whole thing and go back to bed.

The point is that there will always be barriers and we won’t necessarily be able to remove all of them. But taking time to at least mitigate the effect will help the change move forward with greater ease. Think of it as clearing the path in order to make it a little easier for yourself.

  1. How much do I really want it?

If you’ve ever tried making changes, whether big or small, you may have noticed that some go well, and others are more challenging. In some cases, they may end up being nothing more than a good intention that never happened.

You may also have noticed that sometimes you are full of energy and resolve to make the thing happen, and at other times, what may seem like a great idea on paper just doesn’t get going at all. Of course, we make lots of excuses about too much to do, not feeling in the right place, other people making it too difficult for us – and the list goes on. We may say we believe in the change and yet it’s hard to engage or do anything meaningful to make the change happen.

This typically points towards insufficient motivation. Put simply we’re not emotionally invested in the change. We may think it looks like a good idea, like losing a few pounds for the summer, but when it really comes to the sacrifices we might have to make, it’s just not important enough to us. Most of us are constantly juggling many priorities and making decisions every moment of every day about what we’ll put our attention to. If we’re not emotionally invested, believing completely in the purpose, we’ll consciously or unconsciously let something else get the way. The result is of course that we don’t move forward.

The answer to addressing this essentially comes down to a simple choice: a) dig a little deeper on why we want this change in the first place and why it’s so important to us; or b) pull the plug on the whole idea, focus on something else, and stop wasting time worrying about it. That may sound harsh, but you’d be amazed how much time is wasted by not really understanding that the choice is being made whether we’re aware of it or not.

Following the exercise analogy, when the alarm goes off at 5:30 A.M. it’s dark outside and everyone else is asleep. It’s at that point you’ll find out just how motivated you are, especially a few weeks in.

  1. How can I make it feel more achievable?

If a change doesn’t actually feel achievable or it’s not clear what we need to do next, there’s a good chance we’ll get caught up in our life or work activities and nothing will actually happen. We’re all busy, and most of us are constantly using our mental energy to deal with what life throws at us. When making changes, it’s important to think ahead about specifically how we’re going to achieve it and make it easier on ourselves to juggle the different things that draw on our time and attention.

Improving Your Change Readiness

“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” Gilda Radner

Thinking about the question, “How can I make it feel more achievable,” now let’s look at how we can make it more achievable.

Regardless of the nature and scale of the change you’re trying to make, there are five simple strategies you can use to better understand how ready you are to change and, more importantly, what you could do to increase your chance of achieving the outcomes that matter to you.

  1. Break the change into manageable parts.
    Find things that can be done relatively. This gives you a real sense of progress and achievement as you tick things off your list and move towards your goal.


  2. Plan ahead and decide when you are actually going to do the things you’ve decided to do. If you took my Fix It or Forget About It webinar, you’ll remember that we talked about this. By planning ahead, I mean actually scheduling time for it in your calendar. If you don’t actively make time for the tasks you need to do, they will very likely end up as one of those things you didn’t get around to today. Most of us are all too familiar with that one! As Robin Sharma is often quoted as saying: “What get’s scheduled gets done.”

Thinking about that exercise analogy again, planning to do it on specific days of the week and preparing everything you need ahead of time can help greatly reduce the chance that it won’t happen.

It’s critical that you make time for it and stick to it. When asking how something you wanted to change became six months late, the answer is always one day at a time. In other words, each day matters.

So, if you’re not achieving your goals or not getting there quickly enough, then you need to really examine the reasons why and be honest about what’s stopping you doing what you have decided is important.

  1. Make the change a habit in order to sustain it long term.

If you are a regular gym member, then you’ll have noticed how the parking lot is pretty full during the first few weeks of January. By the end of February, things tend to revert back to normal. We come out of the holidays full of resolve and enthusiasm to become fitter and healthier, and then we all too often fall back into our old habits and struggle to sustain them. Making the change in the first place is one thing. Sustaining it over the long term is something else.

Behavioral specialists point out that around 85% of what we do each day is habit driven. Habits are things we do without really thinking. They are an energy-saving device for the brain, allowing it to focus on novel and complex tasks. Driving a car or brushing our teeth are obvious habitual examples: often we find ourselves doing them without being consciously aware of it. Habits can either be good for us or not, and either way we’re likely to continue them unless we consciously form a different habit. That takes time and consistency; according to experts, a new habit takes somewhere between 50 and 130 days to fully embed, depending upon the nature of it.

To change our behavior, we need to be clear on what a good habit looks like, find ways to discourage the bad habits or behaviors, and encourage or reward the desired new ones, so it becomes easier and more desirable to do the right thing. Consistency is really important here too in order to ensure that we don’t slip back into our old ways.

One last thing on making changes stick – it takes time to adjust. With any substantial change, it can feel uncomfortable for a while and things may take a little longer or slow down for a while until we get used to them so it’s important to allow time for that to happen.

  1. Identify what you’re learning and how you can use that to adapt your approach.

As the saying goes, it’s very easy to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It’s important to regularly reflect honestly about how the change is going, what’s working, and what could be improved.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that things will stay as they are. If the pandemic showed us anything, it’s that things can change very quickly, and so we need to ensure that the change we’re making is still as relevant as it was when we started. Has anything changed that means we should change our approach to the change we’re making? Should we abandon it altogether?

Since habits can take a long time to learn or break, you need to be willing to assess as you go. This is called “learn and adapt.” Adaptability is a core human quality and has served us well for many thousands of years but only if we allow ourselves the time to assess and reflect honestly and without undue bias, and then act decisively on what we’ve learned.

Back to the exercise analogy: If we are to hit our fitness goals that we’ve set ourselves then we need to periodically step back and reflect honestly about what’s working and what’s not going so well and where we could improve.

  1. Don’t let the “What Ifs” deter you.

What Ifs usually focus on the uncertainty of the outcome of something we want to do, be, or have.

You come to a fork in the road. One way is something you’re familiar with. The other way is a road you’ve never taken. What might happen if you do take that unknown route? What are the odds that something bad might happen if you go that way? Is it worth the risk?

This is all about the devil we know – and most of us fear that something bad might happen and so we take the known road.

Remember how I said that I’m not a big fan of Firsts – unless I have some level of confidence before I even begin that I’ll succeed? Fear of thinking “What if I look stupid” can easily derail me.

But what if the “What Ifs” never happen?

Thinking back to a time when you took a risk despite the What Ifs, how many of those What Ifs actually came to pass?

Ask yourself this: What if everything does work out exactly how you imagined it?

Go Forth and Change!

“The most important step of all is the first step. Start something! Not only is taking that first step less difficult than you may imagine, but it may change your life in wonderful ways.” Blake Mycoskie

I hope you’ve found some insights about your change readiness – and maybe even a little courage to take that first step!

Evaluating Your Change Readiness Read More »

Harnessing the Power of Possibilities

Ask yourself this: When was the last time you found yourself at a crossroads or had to make a major, possibly life-changing decision – and you ended up doing something based on what you thought you COULDN’T do, not on what you MIGHT do? Did you make the decision or take an action based on limiting beliefs? What was the outcome and how did it feel?

Now, ask yourself this: How would it feel if you made a decision based on EVERYTHING that MIGHT be possible? If you didn’t worry about the outcome, what would you let yourself consider? What options might you have? What choices or decisions would you make?

The decisions we make and the actions we take throughout our lives are usually based on our thoughts and beliefs about our present circumstances as well as our past experiences. I did this, and this happened. I didn’t do that, and that happened. Over time, this becomes the “criteria” we use to make future decisions.

Here’s an example: Twice in my professional career, I found myself at a significant crossroads and had to make some potentially life-changing decisions about my next right action.

The first was in September 2014. My 5-year contract with the government was due to expire. My current job paid me a generous salary and provided me with affordable benefits. Now, keep in mind that expiring contracts are usually just awarded to another company, and the existing employees are offered positions with the new company. And so it was in my situation. I was confident that no matter which company won the contract, I would be offered a position, which was as sure a Sure Thing as it could possibly get when working as a contractor.

I also had two mortgages (three, if you count my vacation ownership), an unenviable savings account, no pension, a 5-figure credit card debt, a younger sister I was assisting financially, and I was years away from qualifying for Social Security benefits.

Fast forward to just this past October. Again, I reached a similar crossroads. Just like before, my contract was ending, and I was faced with a similar decision: stay or go. But this time my present circumstances were significantly different: an even higher salary, double the amount in my savings account, zero debt, one mortgage, and a generous Social Security income. And yet, even though my present circumstances indicated that I had options that I didn’t have in 2014, I was still afraid of not having an income. So, once again, I believed I had no options. And once again, I was resolved to stay in my Sure Thing job.

Truth be told, I had been unhappy for a long time in these jobs. But I was far more afraid of not having an income than I was of not being happy, and so choosing not to accept a position with the new company was, for me, a “not in a million years” choice. I believed that my present circumstances offered me few, if any, choices. I was just going to have to hunker down and gut it out, just like I always had in the past and just like, I assumed, I always would in the future. And so, I decided I had no other choice but to accept stay with my Sure Thing jobs.

And then something happened.

“In order to avoid this bitter end, we have to be reborn again, and born with the knowledge of alternatives.” Maya Angelou

Challenging the “not in a million years” approach to living our lives is a golden opportunity to make some fundamental changes in our lives. It can mark a turning point in how we live our lives.

And giving yourself permission to consider all of your options is the key to getting from where you are to where you MIGHT want to be. Ideas that might not have occurred to you in a million years now might reveal themselves.

In this blog, I’m going to explain the three most important keys to harnessing the power of possibilities: identifying what you want, why you want it, and what you’re willing and not willing to do; giving yourself permission to look at alternatives; and releasing any limiting thoughts and beliefs that are holding you back from being reborn with the knowledge of alternatives!

Examining Your Present Circumstances

Through such increased awareness, you may also become more discerning of your thoughts, feelings, and actions, and that awareness will give you greater opportunity to make a positive change if you wish to do so. Susan L. Smalley and Diana Winston

Let’s begin with the foundational work, what Ram Das calls “planting seeds of awareness,” by examining without judgment your present circumstances. Start by completing each of the statements:

1.       Physically, I am:

2.       Emotionally, I am:

3.       Mentally, I am:

4.       Spiritually, I am:

5.       Financially, I am:

6.       Other (describe your career or job situation, your relationships, or anything else that accurately captures where you are right now):

Remember to describe your present circumstances without judgment. Think about how I described my situation earlier: I included words like “not happy,” “unenviable,” “gut it out,” “not in a million years.” These are judgments. Remove the judgments, and we’re simply left with the facts: salary; health care benefits; three mortgages; savings account; credit card debt, financially supporting a younger sister.

Identifying Your Limiting Thoughts and Beliefs

The most influential part of a mindset are the beliefs you hold true. Myrko Thum

It can be difficult to learn to consider options and alternatives regarding how you live your daily life if you can’t or won’t release your limiting thoughts and beliefs. Limiting thoughts and beliefs can:

  • Seriously hold us back in life.
  • Control our behaviors behind the scenes, enough to curtail our results in some area of life.
  • Block us from taking reasonable and intelligent actions.
  • Stop us from achieving our full potential.
  • Cause our life to lose its richness because we are not able to perceive it correctly.

It can be very hard to recognize your limiting thoughts and beliefs since they are so ingrained and such a part of how you navigate through life. So, let’s look at what might be holding you back and how you can recognize it.

In an article called, “Five Ways to Let Go of Limited Thinking,” Daniel A. Miller said this: “Much of the time, you will know if your thinking is limited because you will feel internal conflict or a sense of “dis-ease.”

Answer the following four questions:

1.       Looking at your present circumstances, do any of them make you feel “internal conflict or a sense of dis-ease”?

2.       For each limiting circumstance, why do you believe it’s constrained?

3.       If you wanted to change any part of your present circumstances, do you believe that change is possible?

4.       If not, what beliefs are holding you back?

Remember that this is about whether you are perceiving your present circumstances correctly. Does the feeling “match” the reality of the circumstance, not necessarily your perception of it? For example, maybe your financial situation is actually secure, but you believe you don’t have “enough” money. Maybe your physical condition is good, but you believe that you’re not thin “enough” or fit “enough.” The concept of believing that we have and are “enough” is very hard to manage. Colette Baron-Reid calls this “scarcity consciousness,” and it can unconsciously block us from taking reasonable and intelligent actions.

Think about how I perceived my present circumstances when I had to decide about my Sure Thing job: in both instances, I perceived that my financial situation was limiting, and as a result, I didn’t have any option other than staying put.

Now, keep in mind that there might be very good reasons why you feel something in your life right now IS limiting or constrained. Maybe change isn’t possible, and your belief about why it’s not possible is perfectly reasonable. That’s okay. The purpose of this exercise is to learn how to recognize that you believe something in your present circumstances is limiting and why you believe it.

Giving Yourself Permission

No matter how qualified or deserving we are, we will never reach a better life until we can imagine it for ourselves and allow ourselves to have it. Richard Bach

To my mind, giving ourselves permission is essential in harnessing the power of possibilities. Permission to consider alternatives. Permission to let go or stay. Permission to say Yes to a new path and a different direction. Permission to say Yes to ourselves. Permission even to say NO when it’s the best course of action.

For most of us, giving ourselves permission can be challenging. Part generational, part upbringing, part cultural, there are many reasons why we rarely if ever consider what we might really want to do or are even willing to try to do. We simply do what we believe we have to do.

When you give yourself permission to think about what you want, why you want it, and what you’re willing to do or even try to do, you free yourself to at least consider alternatives. Ideas that might not have occurred to you in the past now might start to materialize.

Complete each of the four statements:

1.       What does “giving myself permission” mean to you?

2.      On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being Never and 5 being Always, rate your response to this statement: I give myself permission to think new things, to be open to new ideas and possibilities in everything I do.

3.       Is there anything in your present circumstances that you might be able to change or might want to change but you haven’t given yourself permission to even consider making a change?

4.       If you listed something in #3, what’s holding you back?

Do your best to be honest. If giving yourself permission is scary or you believe it isn’t possible right now, say so.

Keep in mind that this is about simply giving ourselves permission, not about taking action at this point. Maybe you’ve heard this riddle before: Three frogs are sitting on a log. One decides to jump off. How many are left? The answer is three – he only DECIDED to jump off!

Remember how I shared that when I reached the crossroads twice in my professional career, I initially decided not to give myself permission to even consider the idea of making a change – and then something happened? This is where I took the first step towards harnessing the power of possibilities: I decided to at least give myself permission to consider other options before I ACTUALLY DID consider other options. And I had to remind myself that this was just a “mental exercise” – I’m still sitting on the log. I haven’t jumped off – and I don’t have to if I don’t want to!

For #3 and #4, maybe there isn’t anything you need or want to change at this time. That’s fine. Just keep these questions in mind if you find yourself faced with a decision or crossroads that you’ve never had to consider before.

Opening the Door to Your Options

Have you heard of the story titled, “The Horse Might Sing”? There are many different versions, but my favorite goes like this:

Nasrudin was caught in the act of stealing and sentenced to die. Hauled up before the king, he was asked by the king: “Is there any reason why I shouldn’t take your head off right now?” To which Nasrudin replied: “I am the greatest teacher in your kingdom, and it would surely be a waste to kill such a great teacher. So skilled am I that I could even teach your favorite horse to sing, given a year to work on it.” The king was amused, and said: “Very well then, you move into the stable immediately, and if the horse isn’t singing a year from now, we’ll think of something interesting to do with you.”

As Nasrudin was moving into the stable, his friend chastised him: “Now that was really foolish. You know you can’t teach that horse to sing, no matter how long you try.”

Nasrudin smiled and said: “I don’t know that at all. I have a year now that I didn’t have before. And a lot of things can happen in a year. The king might die. I might die. The horse might die. And, who knows? The horse might sing.”

I love this story. It’s a message about hope, a reminder that anything is possible and that there are always options – including the “not in a million years “option of the horse actually singing!

Remember I talked about being at a crossroads or having to make a possibly life-changing decision. The definition of a crossroads is “the place where roads intersect or a place at which a vital decision must be made.” A crossroads involves options: this road or that road, this way or that, this direction or that, do this or that.

A crossroads implies that we are intended to select one of the options available to us: we turn left instead of right; we take the shady path rather than the sunny one; the uphill climb rather than the downhill stroll. Otherwise, we come to a standstill.

If giving yourself permission means, “Okay, I’ll let myself consider that maybe I do have options,” then opening the door to options means, “I’m going to actually identify ALL of my options.” We’ll look at how opening the door to all of your options can keep you from continuing on a path that might no longer serve.

When we come to a crossroads, seeing all of the possible roads we can take and all of the options that are available to us can certainly be overwhelming and scary. But it can also be a golden opportunity to make some fundamental changes in our lives. It can mark a turning point in how we live our lives.

In her book, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, Barbara Sher said this: “All their lives they did what had to be done, and didn’t bother daydreaming about alternative lives because they never expected to be free enough to have a choice.”

Have you been avoiding looking at alternative lives? Have you been trying to not look in the mirror and see what is true? At the start of this webinar, I asked you to ask yourselves: “If I didn’t have to worry about the outcome, what would I let myself think about? What options do I have? What choices would I make?”

Complete each of the four questions or statement:

  1. What does “opening the door to options” mean to you?
  2. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being Strongly Agree and 5 being Strongly Disagree, rate your response to this statement: I believe my options are limited due to my present circumstances.
  3. If there is something in your present circumstances that you might be able to change or might want to change, describe ALL of the options that MIGHT be possible regardless of the consequences or the outcome, whether real or imagined.
  4. For the circumstance you cited in #3, what are you absolutely NOT willing to do? Why?

When it comes to opening the door to options, willingness is the key! If giving ourselves permission is about thinking about what might be possible, then opening the doors to options is about being willing to name them. All of them. But remember – this is still just about understanding that there are always options, and you need only consider them. You haven’t jumped off the log yet!

Once again, do your best to be honest. If it’s scary to acknowledge that you do in fact have options, and you’re willing to even consider them, say so.

Looking at #2, consider this: in the Limiting Thoughts and Beliefs exercise, you looked at your beliefs regarding your present circumstances, especially those you believed felt limited or constrained. Now, this takes that perspective one step further – it’s about identifying whether you also believe that your options regarding anything you might want to change are limited as well.

For #3, if there is something in your present circumstances that you might be able to change or might want to change, the key to describing all of your options is letting go of the fear of the consequences or the outcome, whether real or imagined.

Letting go of fear is vital. Fear, whether real or imagined, is one of the primary reasons that people don’t reexamine their snapshotted lives or allow themselves to take steps to change their present circumstances.

Some of our fears, of course, have basic survival value. Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger; if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus hang back for no (seemingly) good reason.

If we think we know what will happen because of something we will or might do, the steps we take, whether consciously or unconsciously, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy; we make it happen because we assume it’s going to happen anyway.

But it’s essential not to get caught up in possible consequences or outcomes. In her book, After Shock: What to Do When the Doctor Gives You—or Someone You Love—a Devastating Diagnosis, Jessie Gruman describes this tendency like this: “It is the fear of the unknown that paralyzes. You can acknowledge the possibilities and know where you might go. It doesn’t mean that you are fatalistic, and it doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen.”

Remember how I shared that when I reached the crossroads twice in my professional career, I initially decided not to give myself permission – and then I did? This is where I took the second step towards harnessing the power of possibilities: I ACTUALLY DID consider other options. I ENVISIONED WHAT MIGHT BE IF NOT FOR FEAR. I started from a place of fear and came up with these options: I can work part-time. I can get a different job that is more fulfilling. I can work for just one more year. I can save more money. All reasonable options. But then I decided to put my fear aside, which allowed me to consider ALL of my options, which included NOT getting another job at all. I let go of trying to imagine outcomes or consequences and suddenly I could really see ALL of the options that might be possible after I decided to jump off the log.

Look closely at #4. Being willing to look at options doesn’t mean that all options are possible. Sometimes an option really isn’t possible depending on your personal circumstances, your beliefs, your financial situation, or any number of other factors. For example, maybe you’d like to find a new job or get that car repair finally taken care of, but your financial situation just won’t make this possible at the time. This is about being honest with yourself: If you honestly believe that it really can’t be done, so be it. In her book, The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah described it like this: “Think about who you are and what sacrifices you can live with and what will break you.” Just be certain that you are still perceiving your circumstances nonjudgmentally and correctly.

Maybe there isn’t anything you need or want to change at this time. That’s fine. Just keep these questions in mind if you find yourself faced with a decision or at a crossroads that you’ve never had to consider before.

The Way Ahead

“You always have a choice.” Nicolas Lore

I have a friend who lives by this philosophy. Whenever I talk (okay, whine) about decisions I’ve made in the past, her response always is, “It was your choice, remember.”

I HATE it when she says that.

But I also know that she’s right. It was my choice. I always have a choice.

Knowing that I have options is essential to my peace of mind and spiritual wellbeing. Having options means the difference between seeing a way ahead—or a way out—or staying in a deep hole that I have, on occasion, fallen into.

Have you been avoiding looking at alternatives? Have you been trying to not look in the mirror and see what is true? Or are you ready to let yourself be reborn again with the knowledge of alternatives?

It’s your choice.

1.       Identify all of your limiting thoughts and beliefs.

It may take some time to uncover your beliefs, but it will be time well spent. The quality of your life depends on it. Spend some time now uncovering and eliminating your limiting thoughts and beliefs, and you will improve your life experience to a great extent. Remember that you have an absolute freedom to choose the way you want to live, and you can choose your own beliefs and ways to behave as well!

2.       Pick something you want to be, try, or do that you haven’t undertaken yet and apply what you’ve learned in this webinar.

What are your alternatives? What are you willing or not willing to do? Remember that this is simply about getting in the habit of giving yourself permission.

3.       Be willing to continually reexamine your present circumstances.

Take me. In 2014 and again in 2022, gave myself permission to really look at both my present circumstances nonjudgmentally and ALL of my options, and in both cases, I actually took the “not in a million years” option, and I quit the Sure Thing jobs I had! And I never regretted doing so nor did anything dire happen to me. In fact, it was just the opposite. It turned out to be the best thing for me in both cases.

Now fast forward once again to today. I’ve been unemployed for the last 7 months since I walked away from Sure Thing job #2, and now I’m back looking for a job. And why? Because my present circumstances have once again changed. So, I gave myself permission to reexamine the snapshot of my life, I looked at all of options (and non-options), and then I chose a new course of action based on my new snapshot.

4.       Find the courage to change if change is needed.

Only you can know whether it’s time to make a change. In her book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Christiane Northrup, M.D., said this: “What we resist, persists. In a nutshell, here’s my professional advice. Make the changes that speak to you. Leave the rest.”

5.       Stay in touch with your feelings, especially those feelings of “dis-ease.”

You have to allow yourself to feel your feelings, to recognize when things aren’t working out anymore, and to consider other options that you probably hadn’t let yourself think about before. 

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Get Back to Where You Once Belonged

Favorite Geographies 2

“The proper teaching is recognized with ease. You can know it without fail because it awakens within you the sensation that tells you this is something you’ve always known.” Frank Herbert

I love the Internet. I love being able to find information on any topic from countless points of view and too-numerous-to-count perspectives. I can learn about anything that astounds, interests, amuses, confuses, or just plain annoys me.

But as much as I love it, I can quickly become overwhelmed with the staggering volume of information that is available at the click of a link.

Plus, I can easily fall into another information trap: the assumption that the way to enlightenment requires not only exploring all of the tools but using them all as well in order to ensure I do something or learn something the “right” way.

But if we believe that enlightenment cannot be achieved without using all of the tools available, and, moreover, buying books and attending workshops and signing up for webinars are the only means by which we learn to use these tools, then the tools may become a trap. Which for most of us means that instead of trusting ourselves to know what is in our best and highest interest, we look to what others have to say about it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for asking for guidance when I need guidance. There are times when we need help from someone else who is further along the path, who has the experience, wisdom, knowledge, and tools we need to explore the path we’re on. And so I sign up for classes, buy books, attend workshops, and I myself am an Intuitive Mentor. But, the starting point must be in our ability to recognize our OWN abilities, to trust our intuition, as we carve out for ourselves the path through the wilderness that is our time here on Earth.

In “What Color is Your Parachute,” Richard Bolles makes this observation: “Your heart knows the places that it loves. Your mind knows the subjects that it loves. Your soul knows the values that it loves.” He refers to these places as our “favorite geographies,” the places that our soul, heart, and mind most often yearn to be.

Are you listening to the truest part of yourself? Do you know what your “favorite geographies” are? What speaks to the deepest part of your nature?

Surely, the most credible vital facts are what we know at the soul level about ourselves. And I think we all know our truths, our own credible vital facts. We only need to listen to our own clear voice.

 

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A Helluva Start

 

“It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.” Lucille Ball

Do you know what makes you happy? Or are you more familiar with what makes you unhappy rather than happy? Do you even know what “happy” means? What it feels like, or sounds like, or looks like?

There was a time that I didn’t. A therapist asked me whether I was happy, and I literally drew a blank. I had no idea how to answer the question. In fact, I had no frame of reference whatsoever for “happiness.” And, at the time, I didn’t realize that we are supposed to feel happy or that it’s okay to be happy.

If we start to look around, we might see that our lives are often filled with small, day-to-day occurrences that can make us happy. But most of us don’t recognize that. Instead, we focus on the negative.

But when the going gets tough, the tough – do what? What do you do that always brings a smile to your face no matter what?

There are countless sources of information that can help you figure out what makes you happy. But the FIRST step is in recognizing that you DON’T recognize what makes you happy.

So, get your helluva start right now!

 

(And by the way, you might start by watching some of Lucille Ball’s now iconic comedy routines (think the chocolate conveyor belt or the “Vitameatavegamin” routine.)

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Skipping Stones

 

Are you a rock thrower? When you have a goal in mind, do you set off with purpose, moving ever forward, keeping up your momentum, and sticking resolutely to your goal? Or, do you focus on the reasons why you shouldn’t start? Do you find yourself creating obstacles to your success? Instead of just starting out, do you start to question whether you really need to achieve your goal?

I hate to admit it but I’ve tossed more than a few rocks into my smooth pathway.

Most of us have an Achilles heel of our own devising that keeps us from taking that first step towards achieving our goals. For us, then, the journey must be one of discovery and self-realization.

And the first step on this smooth pathway is paradoxically simple: You must start by exploring what it is that keeps you from getting started. Is it the fear of failure or, perhaps, the fear of success?

Visualize yourself getting started and then get in touch with what you’re feeling and thinking concerning this picture in your mind. Keep asking yourself, “What is underlying this?” Keep peeling the onion to reveal what lies beneath. Then try to discover what resources, emotions, or experiences you can draw upon to help you overcome the rocks you’ve thrown before you in your path. Most importantly, find out what it is that will keep you going – and make that happen!

Interested in doing a deep dive into smoothing the pathway before you? Check out my book, “I’ve Been Down Here Before But This Time I Know The Way Out.” You’ll hear from people who started out with one set of ideas, perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, and experiences, recognized the rocks they were throwing before them, and then ended up at a “not in a million years” place that was far different from anywhere they had been before. Most importantly, they’ll tell you how they did it so that you can do it too!

https://tinyurl.com/mvkk5j46

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