Change is a process that many of us struggle with but it’s an essential component in personal development. Creating growth and lasting change often means shifting what we believe (sometimes even about ourselves) as well as how we think, then integrating those changes into behaviour, skills or competence. This two stage approach to change – starting with thinking and beliefs and then integrating this into behaviour – doesn’t always go in the same order. In fact, sometimes behavioural change needs to come first or at the same time – that’s the idea of “fake it until you make it.” However, we approach change it’s never easy but it is doable, especially with the right perspective in place.
Focusing on habits
A large amount of what we do every day is habitual. We may consciously learn something, such as how to drive a car, and then practice that skill so that it feels automatic. We tend to surround ourselves with habits that we have perfected over time so that the daily routine can feel comfortable and easy. Change tends to disrupt this and that’s why it feels so unnerving. At that point we might be at the edge of our comfort zone and it’s here that emotions can often kick in to try and persuade us to take a step back inside. Comfort zones often feel safe and unchallenging but they are not where growth and development take place, which is why getting outside of them is essential. The emotions that try to keep us there can be powerful which is why there is an argument for taking steps to behave differently to how those emotions are making you feel when you’re teetering on the edge of your comfort zone.
Finding the momentum for change
Tackling the emotions that can try to keep us stuck requires an energy for change. This often comes from being clear about your ‘why’ i.e. why you’re looking to change and what the benefits of that are going to be. It’s essential that this is focused on the individual, not on what the business or the senior management may see as a good reason to grow. Once we have a clear idea of the reasons why we’re going into a situation the goals can become clear and that’s when the momentum for change really starts to grow. When you have this positive, powerful energy it can be a key tool in processing the emotions that might be trying to stop you from emerging from your comfort zone.
While emotions are powerful they are always temporary. The idea that ignoring or suppressing your emotions can ever be successful has now been thoroughly debunked but there are plenty of tools you can use to feel and process emotions so that they don’t have the hold over you that they might if you were trying to resist them. Combine this with that positive energy for change and implementing new thinking and habits and the results could be outstanding.
As Aristotle said, “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit.”
Find out more by booking onto our Managing Change training course…