I'd like to invite you to stop reading for a moment, and think about one change you would like to make in your life.
Would you like to lose weight?
Would you like to make more money?
Would you like a more fulfilling career?
Would you like more friends?
Would you like to learn a new language?
Would you like a better relationship with your spouse?
Whatever it is you would like to change or create in your life, consider how much time you have spent thinking about this thing. Have you ever noticed how much time we spend in our heads, thinking and worrying about the things we want ?
Compare that to the amount of time we spend actually doing something about those things.
If you spend more time thinking than doing, you aren't alone. Most of us spend far more time pondering change than actually changing.
We get stuck in our heads for a variety of reasons:
- We feel confused and overwhelmed.
- We are afraid we might make the wrong choice.
- We are afraid it might be too hard.
- We worry we'll be judged.
- We fear failure or success.
- We don't believe change is possible.
- We think we don't know what to do to get there.
- We worry we might make things worse rather than better.
I'd like to suggest that big, bold, wonderful change is possible if . . . you stop focusing on outcomes and start enjoying the process.
When you embrace the process of change, and hold on loosely to the outcome, you may find out that the change you want becomes something better than you ever expected. One of my favorite affirmations is this one from Shakti Gawain who wrote the book Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life :
“This or something better now manifests for me in totally satisfying and harmonious ways, for the highest good of all concerned.”
I see manifestation as this equation: intellect+visualization + intuition + one small action every day = the change you desire or something better.
- You use your brain to figure out the practical aspects of making the change.
- You visualize yourself as the person you will be, as though you are already there.
- You use your intuition to guide you when you feel confused, uncertain, or fearful.
- You take regular, small actions every day to move forward — and you enjoy those actions.
Here's a true story of how one small action can lead to amazing, unexpected change.
A young woman called me one day because she wanted to hire me as her coach. Her goal was to find a more fulfilling job. She didn't like the job she had and didn't feel respected by her boss.
Over the course of three or four sessions, we talked about her career values, her skills, and what she envisioned as her ideal job. She wanted freedom and flexibility, to use her creative skills for a higher purpose, and to work with people she respected and who respected her.
However, she didn't know how she could to afford to leave her job and had a lot of fear around losing the security of this full-time employment. But a few weeks into our work together, something amazing happened — she lost her job. Now the safety net was gone, but a thousand doors were also available for her to walk through.
At first she was paralyzed by fear, and it appeared to me that her fear was out-of-proportion to her circumstances. Yes she had lost her job and that's scary. But she was extremely bright, had amazing skills, was charming and outgoing during our phone conversations, and had some financial resources to see her through.
It wasn't until I looked at her Facebook page photos that I realized what was holding my client back. She was overweight. Not just overweight but obese.
She weighed over 400 lbs. at her peak weight. We had only spoken by phone, and she had never mentioned this. At the risk of losing my client, I gently suggested that her fears and paralysis all hinged on her weight issue.
Fortunately, my acknowledging this in a kind and loving way released her from paralysis. I asked her if she would agree to one small action: to set one appointment with a personal trainer just to see what it was all about. She agreed and set the meeting.
Since that day not quite a year ago, my client has changed forever. She has lost over 150 pounds. She has started her own business coaching people to lose weight and live healthier lives. She's created an amazing blog called Trading Pounds and is just about to publish a book. (Remember — this or something better will manifest . . .?)
She pitched her story to a morning television program and was a featured guest. Take a look at Stephanie Wetzel's amazing journey and how a series of small actions led to 150 pounds of change:
(Please note that Stephanie has given me permission to tell her story. )
If you are inspired by Stephanie's story and would like to begin making change for yourself, here are some thoughts to get you started:
1. Determine what you want, but hold on to the outcome “loosely.” That means embrace the idea of “this or something better” will be the result — even if the something better at first appears painful or scary.
2. Every day, several times a day, take a few minutes to close your eyes and visualize yourself as this new person. See it as though it has already occurred. Visualization actually rewires your brain to support physical action. (Check out the book The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, M.D.)
3. Write down every possible action you can think of to get yourself from where you are now to where you want to be — even if those actions seem impossible or difficult.
4. Pick the first or most obvious action for beginning the process. Break it down into smaller, more manageable actions if necessary. Do that one action today.
5. Tomorrow pick another action or repeat the same action if that is what works for your change. Do this every day — take one small action from your list.
6. Do not think about the outcome, except during your visualization time or for any necessary planning you must do related to your action. Just take the action and try to enjoy it. Then forget about it.
7. If you come up against a difficulty or roadblock and don't know what to do, use your intuition to help you decide. You may be unsure, but that's OK. You may make the wrong choice, but that's OK too. Just try again. Enjoy and learn from the detour.
8. Periodically, look at your progress. Acknowledge how far you've come and the achievements you've made.
9. When you feel fearful, tired, unmotivated, or depressed, remind yourself that these are just feelings — not reality. Try to take your action anyway. If you can't, see if you can break it down to an even smaller, more manageable action. Just do something.
10. Remember that real life is in the moment you are experiencing right now — not in the past or the future. Take your mind off of the past or future and focus on the moment at hand. Find the joy and beauty in this moment right now, in the action you are taking right now. The outcome will be all the more sweet when you have savored the process.