Most of us fear change, because - as we’ve all experienced - most change seems to be imposed upon us, originating outside of ourselves.
The only thing that each of us can really change is OURSELVES. A rule to remember, then, is: “The only thing you can change is YOU.” Therefore, unless you change...NOTHING CHANGES.
But once you’ve changed yourself, your perception of the world has, by definition, changed...and, as a direct result, EVERYTHING CHANGES...at least as far as you’re concerned. In other words, when you see things differently, things are different...AND THE DOOR TO CHANGING YOUR ATTITUDE AND BELIEF SYSTEMS OPENS.
Here, then, is the vital question.
WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO MAKE CHANGES IN YOURSELF??
Every ounce of effort you’ve got to give – that’s what it’ll take. That’s the real answer. You need to put out whatever it takes, accomplish whatever change is needed to meet the challenges of personal, social, employment and career development these days.
As my friend Ken O’Brien used to say, “You don’t necessarily get what you want or what you desire. You just get what you get -- and that depends on what you do and who you are!” It’s true that actions are up to you, but events in the world aren’t under your control. You’re constantly faced with having to respond to the world as it changes, which means that you often have to change rather quickly or suffer some kind of loss. So let’s take a look at change...another rather heavy subject.
Many centuries ago it was noted that change is something of a constant. Today things are different. No, change hasn’t stopped. Quite the opposite. It’s happening faster than ever.And not only is change occurring more rapidly these days, but also the degree of change is increasing…even in this shortened time frame.
Change, it seems, is a function of technology, which brings us new challenges along with new knowledge.
Back in the early 17th century, Francis Bacon wrote this famous line: “Knowledge is power.” At that time, the total store of the world’s knowledge was rather meager, and only a few people possessed it...clerics, academics, a few military men. Today, knowledge is doubling about every four years, and, thanks to mass media, computers and other communications devices, many people possess the knowledge.
Today, the power comes from appropriate application of knowledge. Of all the skills you could learn in your life, the knowledge of WHAT WORKS in a GIVEN SITUATION is probably the most valuable.
Here, though, is the rub. The more we know, the less we know how to apply the knowledge we have. Far from the old logic that says that the more we know about the situation the better we’ll be able to handle it, today’s knowledge bank is so extensive and requires so much sifting and sorting, that we experience uncertainty more now than ever before. So let’s take a few minutes to look at CHANGE as KNOWLEDGE -- or SKILL.
You know, making changes in your life isn’t easy. And often it’s not a matter of choice; it’s a matter of urgent necessity, even to the extent of being life-preserving. Does a person change personal habits after a severe heart attack? If life is the goal, then change is the order of the day! There are five stages to the change process.
1. The first is CRISIS. The wake up call comes, and we’ve got to change. The minute we make this decision we’ve completed the first stage.
2. Then comes the HARD WORK. Most of it is mental. What will the nature of this change be? What form will it take? What is the objective, the goal? What must be done - a step at a time - to get from where I am to where I believe I need to be? Most people really enjoy this stage, because there’s a sense of control in these exercises. The danger, of course, is that the planning descends into pure fantasy, or that a sense of being overwhelmed sets in because of all that must be decided and done. It’s a tough time, but necessary to the process.
3. Once the thinking part is over, the TOUGH DECISION moment comes...the instant in which you commit to DO IT. You haven’t even made the first move, but a feeling of relief sets in. Believe me, this is a difficult moment, but when it occurs, take careful note of it. How do you feel? Whom do you tell? (It’s a good idea to tell some trusted friends about your decision; this reinforces your commitment to actually DOING IT.)
4. The fourth stage, which almost invariably occurs -- but sometimes doesn’t -- is THE MOMENT OR MOMENTS OF UNEXPECTED PAIN. These are times when things don’t go as you’ve planned. They’re the frustrating moments when you want to give it all up. When this happens, remember the old cliché, “Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle occurs.” Or tell yourself, “There’s got to be a breakdown before there’s a breakthrough!” These reminders will help you hang in there and keep on moving forward.
5. Finally, there’s THE MOMENT IN WHICH YOU REALIZE THAT THE CHANGE HAS ACTUALLY OCCURRED! Payoffs are arriving! This is the moment of joy and the instant of integration. Enjoy it. It may be the most satisfying reward you’ll get -- the knowledge that you’ve succeeded in changing! One thing you may realize in that moment is that more has changed than just events and outcomes. You may realize that YOU have changed, in a very fundamental way.
Congratulations in advance.