Do you want to take that big step, make a major change in your life, but you don't know how to do it and that discourages you? Perhaps you are afraid because you are moving into the unknown or you are anxious because you feel that you are not in control of everything and the results are uncertain.
The bad news is that most big changes come with big risks. The good news is that these transformations often offer numerous benefits and are almost always worth it. All you have to do is decide!
The three stages of change
Even though every person is different, most of the epochal changes follow a precise pattern that is very effective also because they help reduce uncertainty.
- The denial. In reality, the path to change does not begin when we discover the problem, but much earlier, when we deny it. Basically, in this phase, people have no intention of changing or do not consider new goals, it is as if they are experiencing an emotional block. But the seed of doubt is already planted, the person feels uncomfortable about a situation that is not entirely satisfactory. It is as if a thick blanket of fog comes between us and the problem, but we begin to sense that there is something to be solved, that the need for change may be just around the corner. In this phase the most normal thing is that our defense mechanisms are activated and that these problems that we glimpse through the fog are hidden. Since we prefer to move within our comfort zone and with the security of what we already know, it is normal for us to deny the problem, but the truth is that this has already been worked out on a subconscious level. The seed of change has already germinated.
- Contemplation. At this point we are already aware that there is a problem or a need that pushes us to change. The fog has cleared and we begin to see the situation with some clarity. Gradually the details become clearer and we realize that it is necessary to make a major change in our life. In many cases it is a painful and emotional procedure as we struggle between the security that our habits give us and change, which represents uncertainty and also involves a lot of effort. In fact, there are people who spend years in contemplation without being able to resolve this dichotomy, while others take action much faster.
- The preparation. At this stage the person has already understood that change is fundamental and begins to prepare to face it. Basically, it is psychological preparation, which means accepting a certain compromise with yourself and becoming aware of future actions. We also have a tendency to think about the people around us and how they might interpret the change, some might support us, but others don't, in this case we prepare for a possible estrangement or breakup.
The preparation phase is essential because without it you run the risk of acting too quickly, and being psychologically unprepared, a fact that could lead to various conflicts and could even cause an emotional block. We can think of phases similar to those that athletes go through during training to run a marathon, without this program they would probably fail and stop the race in the middle. However, there is also the risk of postponing change indefinitely, simply because we are afraid.
We must first realize that absolute certainty never exists. There is always a margin for error, some degree of uncertainty and factors that we cannot control. Furthermore, we must also consider that we are never fully prepared for the path we will take because challenges often appear that we had not foreseen. Therefore, waiting until we are at 100% is definitely the most direct way to stay still.
Either way, we will be ready for change when:
- We have analyzed the largest number of alternatives available to us
- We discussed our options with other people who gave us different points of view
- The current situation is stressful and unsatisfactory
- We imagined the worst case scenario and felt strong enough to face it
- We are convinced that this is the best solution to the
current moment (that is, with resources at hand and in the conditions we are experiencing).
And if you need an extra dose of motivation before taking the plunge, remember that there is nothing worse than spending a lifetime wondering what would have happened if… we had the courage to change.