Most of us have tried to change something in our lives over the years, be it at New Year with some resolutions, in preparation for a birthday, or just a spur of the moment decision.
I know I have.
The Depth of the Pull
For me, there’s a deep inner pull that I am meant for more, that I am supposed to do something. A sense that I should be reaching for my potential. This has driven to study at university, to work in various fields and to try all kinds of creative project.
Mostly though, it means I have gathered a LOT of self-development tools over the past couple of decades.
If you’re anything like me, you also started seeking out answers via self-help books or ‘be your best self’ courses. I moved from resources aimed at ‘design your personality’ to ‘declutter your life’ routines, through to ‘reinvent your thoughts’ all the way to actual therapy to ‘fix my brokenness.’
Because when I was younger, that sense of “not-at-my-potential-yet” often felt like I wasn’t good enough.
Turns out, I Wasn’t Alone
Yet, very little changed.
We save the free worksheets, we buy the books or attend the seminars… and yet, a few weeks later, you appear to be in the same place. The only thing worse than feeling beyond fixing, not enough as you are… is feeling you had a chance to change that and yet you failed.
Frustrated. Overwhelmed and unsure where to even begin.
How much progress do we make when we are stuck? Very little.
So without overcoming this issue, we’re not likely to make much progress. Time to employ the step so many of us have missed out in our previous attempts at change: reflection.
The Importance of Reflection
Having a book or worksheet as a resource is not useless, but unless we know what to apply that too to, we end up not using that skill at all!
So before downloading, buying or reading any resource, I recommend pausing to identify what is pulling you towards that resource.
What are you hoping to achieve through a change? Another way of looking at this is ‘why’ are you attempting to develop yourself?
The Gap Between Now and Then
Once I identified what was ‘missing’ or what I wasn’t to ‘expand’, it became much easier to plan changes, to make shifts and to access the right resources.
Most people get stuck by wanting to “just be better” or picking one broad value to aim for, without a clear idea of how that will look or feel.
Any goal, without a destination of SOME kind, is hard to prepare, to plan for, to take steps toward, to measure and to achieve. Because how will we know when we succeed without something to aim for?
Take The First Step
So my tip for this problem is to start with any step further along the path. Not the “final destination” as such, but anything that will tell you you’re on the right path.
So when we identify a step ahead of us; be it 2 steps ahead or a destination… then what?
We don’t need a clear vision of the exact situation, but we do need to identify something measurable.
“I want to be fitter” would become “I’d like to walk a mile without stopping for a break” or “I want to fit into THESE jeans.” At this point, we don’t need to worry about a specific deadline, because having a specific action, behaviour or goal is enough for us to begin making a plan or gathering resources.
A Real-Life Example
In 2018, I decided that I wanted to work towards having more physical energy, and my main measure of this was in not over-eating.
That was enough for me to look up “meal preparation” videos and “paleo recipe” websites, bought myself a specific lunchbox and bought some lentils and beans to “bulk out” some of my meals to help keep my fuller for longer.
For this purpose, knowing “let’s eat less” was enough for me to move forward. Yes, there were plans and actions beyond, but the first step was identifying a stepping-stone ahead of where I am now.
What’s the change you’ve been pulled to make, but struggled to identify?
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