setting goals to change
Today I was talking with a client about her frustration with the change process. She had taken the time to do the following:
- Identify the areas of her life that she feels need improvement
- Understand her most important core life values
- Create S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-limited) goals that align with those values but she is still struggling to move forward
Why? Well, because of this simple fact that change is hard, even when we know it will be good for us.
Struggling to change
I know I've experienced this same struggle and I'm sure you have too. We've weighed the pros and cons and have a burning desire to create positive changes in our lives, yet we find that we have a tendency to sabotage ourselves. Sometimes it can seem like the harder we try, the more difficult it becomes. If we've decided that we really want to make positive changes, shouldn't it get easier as we start seeing the positive results of our efforts?
If this were the case then the "self-help" business wouldn't be a multi-billion dollar industry. Millions of people find it hard to make positive changes and that's why crash diets and "secrets" to success are so popular: we want to be different as quickly and painlessly as possible. The truth is, change is stressful and sometimes painful because it requires conscious effort, when we're used to operating on autopilot.
That doesn't mean that positive change isn't worth it; it just means that there will be obstacles along the way that you need to plan for. Once you are able to identify obstacles to creating positive change in your life, you will be in a much better position to overcome them.
Common road blocks to change
These are some common roadblocks that many people struggle with:
- Fear: Change is scary. Fear of change is directly linked to our desire for control over our own lives. Our brains are hard-wired to like consistency and routine but when we try something new, we have no idea what the outcome might be. We like predictability but change is unpredictable and therefore uncomfortably stressful. In order to overcome this obstacle, our desire for personal growth needs to be stronger than our fear of change, and we need to patiently sit with our discomfort, knowing that it is a temporary side-effect of creating the life we desire.
- Limiting Beliefs: We all have beliefs about who we are, what we think we are capable of, and what we deserve out of life. It is our beliefs, our convictions about ourselves and what is possible in our world, that determine the choices we make. Strong positive beliefs are the foundation for action, whereas unhelpful negative beliefs can keep us stuck. So if you believe that you can't, you won't, but believe that you can and you'll try, and it is the trying that brings about the possibility of successful change. By developing a greater understanding of your beliefs and regularly evaluating them, you will become more aware of which ones are moving you forward or holding you back. Beliefs are usually tied to a strong emotional element which means changing negative beliefs can be challenging, but overcoming this roadblock is one of the main reasons clients come to me for coaching.
- Lack of Self-Awareness: Motivation for change frequently starts with a sense of discomfort. As time goes on, this sense of discomfort persists and you find yourself feeling increasingly frustrated or unfulfilled in different areas of your life but you're not sure why. Self-awareness is central to the life coaching process and these feelings of discomfort can be the foundation for building a greater understanding of yourself and how you respond to the world.
- Delegating Responsibility For Your Life. Sometimes it's tempting to point fingers and blame other people/situations/life events for your unhappiness, but ultimately, the quality of your life is your responsibility. We are the only people responsible for our actions and our decisions; by blaming external forces, we are giving up the power to change ourselves. Accept your life as it is, where it is, and commit to taking full responsibility for the actions necessary to change it. This is a liberating experience that frees you from that feeling of powerlessness, putting you in the driver's seat of your life.
- Lack of Support. Doing it alone increases your chances of failure significantly. We have a tendency to be our own worst critics and being hard on yourself has been proven to be an ineffective motivator. We need people to cheer us on, empathize with our ups and downs, and be there to celebrate our wins. Take the time to find the support you need, regularly update them on your progress, and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
To be honest with you, this post really isn't about changing yourself as much as it is about finally accepting yourself as you are. Many of us have these concrete ideas about who we're supposed to be and what our lives are supposed to look like, but these ideas are just causing us more pain and suffering. We are always evolving because change is the only constant we have, so we need to embrace the unexpected and learn how to go with the flow of things or risk drowning. Once you let go of expectations and stop resisting possibilities for growth, you'll find your focus and change will become a much more natural and effortless process.
What kinds of roadblocks have you experienced?
How have you overcome them?
If you're interested in finding out more about how life coaching can specifically benefit you, contact me today to schedule your initial Discovery Session.