Many people shy away from changing the course of their lives because it seems too hard. However, with the right knowledge, you can navigate change successfully. When managed effectively, change can be exciting and empowering. On the other hand, remaining stuck is painful and self-limiting.
When I first started my journey towards creating a more fulfilling career and life 10 years ago, I had to read how to manage fear to calm myself down.
I assumed that fulfilment could only happen if I gave up what I had achieved to date as a corporate executive and made radical changes in my life.
I was not alone.
Many people deal with change in a drastic manner. They believe they must let go of the past completely and start anew. This sounds scary and overwhelming, so they end up doing nothing.
This is because often, people confuse the result of change with the process of change.
Change doesn’t have to be daunting. You don’t have to turn your life upside down and throw away everything you have achieved.
Change is a gradual process.
Successful change requires small, achievable steps, so simple and easy that you can just give them a go. This is the best way to manage change. It reduces fear and uncertainty, provides you with real-time feedback, and gives you the confidence you need to continue.
In her book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott, explains the best way to write is to start by filling a one-inch frame. Her point is that we often become so obsessed with creating the right action from the first go, we struggle to do anything at all.
Instead, we should simply start by concentrating on the smallest action we can make. This one, tiny action will lead to another and another. A writer doesn’t start by thinking about writing a bestseller. They start by writing and filling that first small frame.
Don’t make it so hard you can’t even start.
Don’t throw away everything to pursue your “perfect” vision. All we need to do is take some tiny steps to get it started. These tiny steps have more impact than a gigantic idea that never sees the light of day.
Ignoring the possibility of doing one small thing today means you’re protecting the status quo and choosing your current situation.
Choosing to act gives you the opportunity to break your unhealthy working habits and limited self- beliefs.
There is a Chinese proverb that sums this up: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is today.”
Take the example of launching a new small business. Many people imagine the process of starting a business as a dramatic, lightning-bolt experience. A genius entrepreneurial idea strikes you in an instant, you quit your corporate job and dive head-first into the new opportunity.
The reality, however, is that most business owners who transition from a corporate role spend months or even years thinking, tweaking and experimenting with different ideas and models before it gets off the ground. Often, this incubation period happens while they are working in a full-time job. The new start-up could be a side hustle for a long time before they pursue the business full-time.
Small daily actions won’t deliver life-changing success overnight, but they will bring positive momentum and progress consistently.
If you can consider your change process as a year-long experiment, you can afford to be playful and creative about it. It will be more fun and light-hearted. The more relaxed you are about this process, the more curious you are, the greater outcome you will achieve.
If you make change easier, more achievable and more enjoyable, you can start now.
What small changes can you make starting from today?
I would love to hear them.
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