Every year, many of us may have launched initiatives for change in the form of resolutions. We often feel inspired to reflect, look back, and take stock of our lives, deciding what is working for us, and what isn’t.
The changes we seek may be relatively small or short-term, such as losing those holiday love handles or decluttering the garage. We may also feel a strong desire or need for more profound, long-term transformation in the form of a career change, quitting long-term habit, or moving to a new town.
Whether we deliberately pursue personal transformation and growth or have it thrust upon us, we can greatly improve our chances of achieving success by preparing for the changes we seek.
In this article, we will look into 9 ways to prepare for change. These tips will help you navigate transitions both small and large, and set you firmly on the path toward the life of your dreams.
1. Understand the Logical Levels of Change
It’s important to understand how change actually works so you know what to expect during the process.
In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), we use the Five Logical Levels to understand what’s involved in making personal change. This is a simple model that gives five useful windows through which to view any issue.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the five Logical Levels:
- Identity – Who are you? What roles do you play in your life?
- Beliefs – Why do you do what you do? What are your values and beliefs?
- Capabilities – How do you do things? What are your skills and strategies?
- Behaviors – What are you doing? What are your current behaviors?
- Environment – Where, when and with whom are you displaying your behaviors?
Changes and factors at each level impact those above and below it to a greater or lesser degree. For example, changing your environment may affect the levels above it, but altering a belief you hold will most certainly influence the levels below it.
To shift a behavior, which is the level we typically target when we resolve to ‘make a change’ in our lives, we often need to become aware of and adjust our underlying beliefs and sense of self, build our capabilities to include new skills, and possibly support the shift by changing our environment.
Let’s use an example to walk through each level; you’re unhappy in your current career as a Chartered Accountant, and have decided to go back to school to retrain as a Registered Massage Therapist.
- Identity – is your purpose to be happy and fulfilled, or to be the successful bread-winner of your family?
- Beliefs – do you value helping others? How much do you value income and status vs. happiness and satisfaction? Do you believe you are capable of making the necessary changes?
- Capabilities – how will you gain the skills you need to become a massage therapist? What training will you need? What soft skills will you need that you don’t currently have (i.e. communication, making people feel at ease)? Are you willing to do what it takes to obtain these new capabilities?
- Behaviors – aside from physically leaving your current job, what other behaviors might need to change? Will you need to cut down on luxuries to afford the transition? Are your beliefs in line with the changes you will need to make?
- Environment – does your current environment support the necessary changes (i.e. your spouse, boss)? Will you be able to study and work in your current situation, or will you need to move? When is the best time to make the transition?
2. Get Clear on Your Desired Outcome
Take the time to clearly define exactly what it is you want to accomplish with the change in terms of what it will look like, when you want it to happen, how long you want it to take, and a basic outline of how you will accomplish it.
This is particularly important for those who like to jump right in once they’ve made a decision; enthusiasm is wonderful and will serve you well, but you also need a clear path and solid understanding of what it is you want.
3. Create a Pros and Cons List
It’s inevitable that with big change comes fear and doubt. Even when we know a particular decision is right for us and will benefit us in the long-term, we may feel a pull back to the familiar and comforting behaviors, habits, jobs and situations we are attempting to leave behind.
Make a list of the reasons you want to change. What are the deeper desires behind your decision? What specific positive outcomes will you experience as a result of your change? And finally, what are the negative consequences of NOT changing?
Create a detailed list of your answers to these questions, and post them where you will be able to review them often. When doubt creeps in, or when your motivation lags, your list will serve as an encouraging reminder of why you’re doing all this in the first place.
4. Imagine the Outcome
In NLP, we refer to this important step in accomplishing any chosen goal or outcome as Future Pacing. Simply put, you imagine and visualize the end result of the change you are making