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How to Make a Successful Change

“Every fresh experience has this dizziness of freedom that we must move through. Every time we reach beyond what is familiar, there is the necessary acclimation to what is new. It is the doorway to all learning.”

By Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Self-change is challenging for most people but not impossible. In fact, it is one of the most empowering experiences in life. Change leads to transformation: becoming wiser, more competent, calmer and compassionate.

In these turbulent and uncertain times, change seems to be a necessary requirement for successful navigation and coping. While the experience of being in the change process may bring challenge, the outcome of a successful change can be worth every step along the way.

While there is much to be written on how to change oneself, the following ten principles for making a successful change can be a starting point and a resource to refer to at any time.

Change must be stated in the positive

  • Use “going toward” language rather than “going away from”
  • Reinforcement is necessary for permanent change
  • Enjoy each step

Change involves stages

  • Replace “overnight” expectations with “process” thinking
  • Define the goal clearly
  • Break down the goal into small steps

Change can be frightening

  • Accept anxiety if it is present
  • Look at the outcomes and let them inspire
  • Be realistic ~ too much too soon can create fear

Slower is better

  • Change is most effective when it occurs slowly
  • Establish tranquility and patience
  • Enjoy the journey

Take care of yourself at all times

  • Cultivate awareness and acceptance
  • Simplify the process
  • Take baby steps

Change requires structure

  • Identify what works for you
  • Use appreciative inquiry to identify strengths and resources
  • Revisit your plan consistently

The more you know the better

  • Monitor your change (keep a journal, for example)
  • Welcome feedback
  • Determine how you will know you have reached your goal
  • How will “being there” sound, touch, smell, taste and look?

Practice makes success

  • Ask for help from others
  • Practice each step in every possible situation
  • Make reaching your goal a personal “trait”: be the change

New behaviors must be protected

  • Take control of your environment
  • Be “memory creative” ~ make lists, charts and promises
  • Remember change isn’t always embraced by family and friends

Make small successes big

  • Approach each step as a separate “mission”
  • Always acknowledge yourself for each achievement
  • Establish the habit of gratitude: live in gratitude

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