3 Steps to Make Change Stick

A life coach explains why change is so hard, and what you can do about it.

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How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? If you’re like most people, you’re probably giving those hopeful aspirations some serious second thought right about now. In fact, research shows us that by the beginning of February, 80 percent of people who made resolutions will have dropped them. Kind of staggering, right?

Fortunately, you don’t have to live in the land of the 80 percent.  Instead, you can join the gang over in 20 percent city. (They’re the ones who make change stick.) To do it, you just need to learn how to manage change. That’s what I’m going to teach you about today. First, let’s talk a little bit about change itself.

As a life coach, I’ve helped clients make personal and professional changes for more than 14 years, and I’ve come to believe that all changes (even the positive ones) create little earthquakes in your life. Change shakes you right to your core.

That’s because the process of changing is an active one. It asks something of you. You don’t get to sit back and let stuff happen when you’re dealing with transitions. Changing times require you to roll your sleeves up, and engage with your life like you mean it.

You have to decide what you want, alter your routines, and be willing to look at things in new ways. Change even asks you to expand the way you see yourself. As you can imagine, all of this altering and expanding feels really uncomfortable. In fact, it creates something called uncertainty.

Uncertainty is basically doubt on steroids. It places you in unpredictable territory, and that sends your brain into high alert. Which makes you feel like you’re coming unglued. It can also send you screaming back to your old way of doing things. (That 80 percent is starting to make sense now, isn’t it?)

Maybe you’re the one initiating change as you go for something you really want, or perhaps you’re on the receiving end of an unwelcome and unwanted change. (If so, I’m sorry. That’s so hard.)

No matter how you got here, if you’re flailing around in the change zone trying to figure out how to make it through, I can help. (And don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re totally normal flailing around in there.) Keep reading. In the next three steps we’re going to build you a change-that-sticks plan.

Step 1 – Name your stage.

There’s a process to change. The one I use with clients has four parts. Each has it’s own distinctive circumstances and set of emotions.

· Stage One: Status quo. Life is happening as it usually does.

· Stage Two: Disruption. A foreign element is introduced. Either you decide to make a change or a change is visited upon you.

· Stage Three: Adjustment. This is the messy part where you have to find your way through the disruption in order to arrive at a new status quo. Uncertainty thrives in this stage. (This is also where many people quit.)

· Stage Four: New Normal. This is where you arrive at your new status quo. If you do the whole process awake and with intention your new normal can be pretty amazing too.

Which stage are you in right now? Ironically, the very act of defining where you’re at can give you a sense of control. (It’s kind of like creating a little bit of certainty right in the face of all that uncertainty you’ve been feeling.)

The thing about feelings and change, is that every phase can feel pretty terrible. Even if the change you’re making is one you really want. There’s this false notion that when you’re going for your dreams or when something good happens to you, you’re not supposed to feel difficult feelings. But that’s just not true.

If you’re in change you’re going to feel bad sometimes. That doesn’t mean the change you’re making is wrong. When your feelings come calling, open the door. They have messages for you. LISTEN. You can handle whatever you discover.

Okay, that was the hardest part. This next step feels great. (Thank goodness, right?)

Step 2 – Connect with your new normal.

Now it’s time to dream a little bit. What do you want your new normal to look like? I want you to develop a vision for WHAT you want, along with emotional conviction around WHY you want it. (I know, back to those feelings again.)

You can have almost anything you want if you’re willing to work for it. (That’s the tricky part, of course. Working for it is not for the faint of heart.) You’re going to meet some rough times on the path to claim your dreams. When the going gets tough, the vision you hold for your new normal will fuel you, and your why will propel you forward.

First let’s talk WHAT. Think about the changes you’re making. When all of the dust settles, what do you want your new and improved situation to look and feel like? What are you going for?

WHY will it matter? Who will it impact? Why is that important? How does that make you feel?

When you link your clear and compelling vision with the true north of a powerful why, you become a person who successfully navigates change.

Now, let’s talk action…

Step 3 – Focus on forward movement.

Most people don’t make changes because they’re more focused on what they have to give up than they are on what they have to gain. That’s because another uncomfortable part of change, is that it almost always involves giving something up.

You can’t bring everything (or everyone) with you to your new normal. To get there you’re going to have to leave some things behind. There is no negotiation here. For every get there is a give, and that can be really difficult.

It’s normal to grieve the loss of whatever isn’t coming with you. (Even if what you’re leaving behind was mediocre or not really that good for you.) It hurts to say goodbye. But you CAN do it.

If you want to arrive happily at your new normal, you need to learn to manage your focus. Think of your brain like a giant Google that serves up whatever you search for.

When you’re in the change zone there are two ways to focus. You can think about how things used to be (and be sad and stuck), or you can manage your focus and laser in on what you need to do to make your new normal a reality. (Which feels way better.) There’s a movement part that comes into play here too.

You behave your way into the life you want.

In other words, it’s time for you to get into action. Don’t worry. You don’t need gobs of time or a master plan. I just want you to take one little baby step toward your goals every day. Those little baby steps build on one another, and they create this magical thing called momentum.

Before you know it, you’ll find yourself smack dab in the middle of your very own new normal. And you’ll be a change master.

That’s it for the week. Please remember that I never want you to blindly take my word for anything. Only you know what’s right for you. (I just happen to have a few coaching tools that can help you get closer to that wisdom.) Give this week’s advice a test drive. Once you do, let me know how it goes. I love hearing from you! There are four ways for us to interact.

· Comment in the comments section below.

· Chat with me on Instagram or Facebook.

· Email me if you have something more private you’d like to ask. My personal email is [email protected]. I’m the only one reading your messages, and it’s always me answering them.

· Join me on FB Live for a free coaching session every other Wednesday at 12:30PT. I give a live workshop, and answer your questions about the latest episode of GrooveTV. The best part is that we get to connect live, which is so much fun!

My mission is your empowerment. That’s why I’m here. If you haven’t already joined my community, please do it at my website (www.kimberlyfulcher.com). I’ll send you free weekly coaching, and we’ll get your groove back together.

Until we meet again, know that life is happening for you, and you’ve got this!

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