Recently I was discussing something with a client of mine and he asked me how to go about changing things in your life when there is so much to change.
Basically, what he wanted to know was "where do you start?"
I realized that this would be a good subject for a blog post and so, with permission from my client, I am going to be discussing that very topic here:
How do you change something about your life?
This specific client of mine wants to make things better in his relationship so I will use the subject of relationships here for my example but please know that this methodology applies to wanting to change anything in your life at all.
He said (and i am paraphrasing), "I know there are a lot of ways that I could do things better, but I don't know how to begin. It all just seems so disorganized and muddled up."
Here's where you start with any major changes in life:
1. You start at the end.
Ask yourself, what is the ultimate goal that I want to attain through my changes? In this case the answer would be: "I want to be a better boyfriend/husband/fiance".
Notice how I made that goal specific to the person who is doing the changing? That's the second part:
2. Make it about you.
As we all know, in life you can only control yourself and your own actions. So when you are hoping for things to be better in life, you can only focus on what You can do and who You are. Do you want to have a better relationship? Focus on being a better part of that relationship yourself before you turn around and point any fingers at anyone else. Do you want more romance? Ask yourself how romantic you are. Do you want better communication? How clearly do you communicate yourself? Work on those things and soon you will find that things start falling into place.
and then of course there's the third part:
3. Keep trying and have patience.
Change isn't easy. Any life coach or therapist or personal trainer or infomercial who tries to tell you that changing your life is easy is lying to you and you should turn around and walk away from them. It's not easy. It's hard and it's messy and sometimes it's the last thing you WANT to do. But it IS worth it.
Changing your actions, your behaviors and your belief systems is a difficult undertaking for anyone. It takes work and effort and MOST IMPORTANTLY it takes diligence. You MUST stick with it. You must understand that results don't happen over night and you must know that any change takes time, effort, and repetition.
And at the end of all of that effort and time you will find that something remarkable has happened: you have transformed. You are much happier, much more centered, you know yourself more and you have fulfilled a goal that you have struggled with for years.
So for my client here, what I suggested he do is fill in the blank:
If I were a successful boyfriend (which is his goal), I would do the following: ___________________.
You must know the definition of the outcome that you are seeking. What does it mean to have a fulfilling career? What does it mean to be a good wife? What does it MEAN to be happy? What does it mean to fall in love? What does it mean when you say you want to find your purpose? You must fill in the blanks, you must know EXACTLY what that goal you want is. You must have a definition for this arbitrary phrase you think you want.
You say you want a good relationship but so often people don't even know what that means to them. Does that mean that your significant other makes you coffee every morning? Does it mean that s/he buys you extravagant gifts? Does it mean you stay up late into the night discussing philosophy? Does it mean that they enjoy kung fu movies as much as you do? What does it MEAN to you specifically to have a GOOD relationship. What does YOUR PART of that relationship look like?
With any goal you must ask yourself these questions and get very specific so yo know exactly what it is that you REALLY want from life. It's easy to just throw blanket phrases around but that is setting yourself up for disaster. Your idea of a healthy lifestyle might be very different than your personal trainer's idea or from your mother's idea or your friend's idea so you really must get clear and honest with yourself so that you know how to fulfill your own goals.
The point is really, without doing this how will you know when you've got it if you have no idea what it even means?
If this man wants to have success in his relationship he first has to know what a successful relationship even looks like to him. Then he has to know what his part of that successful relationship is. Then he knows where to begin.
If a successful boyfriend to him is someone who listens, who is romantic and who is financially stable than he has to take steps to cultivate those traits within himself. He must begin to ask questions of his partner and really hear the answers. He must ask himself what romance looks like and begin to follow through on those romantic gestures he comes up with. He must ask himself what financial stability means for him and he must then work hard to gain that level of success.
He lays the rules, he defines the terms and he is in control of how he gets there.
He will never become a successful boyfriend however if he doesn't ever figure out exactly what that means.
So you should try this too. If you have a goal in life, any goal at all, you must ask yourself: what will it look like when i get there? How will I know when I am living it? What steps can I take today to begin to embody that change?
Sit down, define the outcome for yourself and then start LIVING that outcome. If you want to be more social and your definition for that term includes being more outgoing than you must start practicing that today. Start somewhere small and manageable. You want to do something that it outside of your normal realm of comfort but that doesn't terrify you. Maybe for example set a goal to say hello to 3 strangers a week or to make small talk with people in lines or elevators. Whatever you decide to do, the point is that you must start living like you would if you already had those traits and before you know it, you'll will have them down and you will be more confident.
Changing requires conscious actions and purposeful movements in a certain direction. As long as you define what it is you want to be, you keep it about yourself and you never give up, you will find that you can change anything you want about yourself and your life. Just keep faith and be willing to actually go forward and do it.