Personal Finance

The process of change

“Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.” – Jim Rohn

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about change. This year has been full of very positive changes for me and, with a new year approaching and so many goals close to being accomplished, it seems like a good time to start figuring out exactly how I want to capitalize on all that positivity over the next few years as I set new goals.

I’m very aware of the fact that setting ambitious goals tends to go hand in hand with stepping well beyond the limits of my comfort zone and this is what makes the whole process of goal setting both hugely exciting and hugely nerve-wracking for me. During a radio interview this week (which definitely put me on the outside edge of my comfort zone!), the host and I were discussing change and I thought it would be a good topic for this week’s post.

Einstein summed it up brilliantly when he defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. It makes sense that if we don’t like the way things are, then we should change them but, as with so many things in life, just because something is simple in theory does not necessarily make it easy to put into practice. I’ve found that change becomes easier when you think of it as a four-step process. Hopefully, this approach will make it easier for you too:

Step one: Awareness

The first step of change is the awareness that not only does something need to change, but also that we are ultimately responsible for making that change happen. Taking ownership of the good and bad in our lives and resisting the temptation to blame outside forces and/or other people for our circumstances is critical to improving our situation. (It also makes life an awful lot happier.) We might not be able to control what happens to us but we have total control over how we react to it.

Step two: Understanding

Once we’re aware of whatever it is that we need to change, the next step is to understand how it is currently impacting our lives in a negative way. Whether it’s a change of habit, a change of circumstance or a change of belief; understanding how that one element is holding us back from achieving our goals, can be just the fuel we need to inspire us to make a change.

Step three: Action

To steal some wise words from Goethe: “knowing isn’t enough, we must apply.” This is often the hardest of the steps. It not only requires a commitment to a goal and the tenacity to keep working towards it but it often also requires adopting beliefs and habits that might be dramatically different from those of our close friends and family. It’s unfortunate that, in making the decision, to change the direction of our own life, we risk moving away from people who we care about. I know first-hand how hard it can be to lose friendships that mean a great deal because our lives have become so different. However, I’ve also been surprised by how that same change has strengthened other friendships and opened doors to new ones.

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Step four: Results

This is by far, the most exciting and rewarding of the four steps; this is the realization of a goal. The feeling that goes along with achieving a goal that required conquering fears, overcoming obstacles and persisting over time, is one that shouldn’t be underestimated. Creating change isn’t an easy process but it can be an extremely rewarding one; emotionally, psychologically and financially.

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No matter what your circumstances, chances are there is an opportunity to make a positive change. As 2014 draws to a close and a new year approaches, it’s a great time to think about where you want to be a year from now, three years from now, ten years from now and to consider the changes you could implement that might take you there.

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