How to Change Your Life: The Courage, the Risks and the Rewards
Life can be difficult and uncertain, especially when faced with the prospect of change. Although change is often the key that will positively alter the path of our lives, we shy away from it for fear of leaving behind our comfort zones and entering into the unknown. This fear robs us of our freedom to make the life choices that can bridge the gap between where we are and where we want to be.
It may take courage to move from the known to the unknown, but the price of growth is a sacrifice of certainty.
Here are six steps you can take to make any needed change in your life:
- Identify excuses
You may be unhappy in a number of areas of your life, but complaining about it does not change effect change. Are you just skillfully playing the victim role? If you have chosen to stay stuck due to fear, then the change you need is not going to appear on its own. Be honest with yourself: Identify the excuses and rationale that have been keeping you in your life “as is.”
- Take responsibility
Only you can change you. Motivation must come from within. Take responsibility and look closely at what part of your life has kept you imprisoned from your own potential. Don’t blame your own refusal to make changes based on external things. When you do this, you give over all responsibility to things you cannot control. For example, “I would have realized more of my potential, but no one was ever interested in mentoring me.”
- Understand that everything is risky
Change is a fact of life, and participating in change means stepping into the unknown. It means taking a risk. Wouldn’t life be boring if we always knew outcomes before actions? The riskiest step is always the first. But with every step in the right direction, your courage muscles get stronger.
- Realize that risk leads to growth
Growth always involves risk, and risk always involves fear. Unfortunately, some people wait for an ironclad guarantee that everything will work out exactly right, until all risk is removed. When this happens, they usually stagnate where they are. Don’t wait on the sidelines while the world passes you by.
- Value your needs
Many busy people spend all their time, effort and energy meeting the needs of others. Remember to place value on your own needs, too. Without a focused priority, you may become molded by your environment.
- Value your time
Do not play the “when-then” game. Don’t tell yourself, “When the children are grown, then I’ll take some time for myself.” Or, “When I feel like I can make a difference, then I will look for a new job.” Sometimes we wait our whole lives for a “when” that never comes. Value your time now and do not assume you have time to take a risk and make a change that can propel your life in new directions.
- Evolve rather than age
Worrying about growing older is a waste of time. Celebrate the knowledge that aging brings an insight and personal growth that is intensified through life experience. Instead of aging, evolve. This changes your focus from fearing loss to celebrating accomplishment. What you have learned throughout your life can enlighten current and future generations. Having an “evolving” attitude inspires authority to renew yourself and make whatever changes will lead you to that renewal.
- Connect rather than wait
Connect with others and connect to a larger perspective. Aging can bring worries about health and fears of loneliness and isolation. Connection brings strength when we feel we are weak. Positive relationships encourage and bring courage to make new and better decisions throughout any life transition.
Face Your Fears
- Act before crisis
At its simplest and most benign, fear is an internal warning cry that danger is nearby and we had better do something about it. Many times, it takes a warning cry like a marriage failure or a worrisome medical diagnosis to realize changes are needed. Do not wait for a crisis to occur to have an awakening about the quality and value of your life. Begin making changes now, and you will be more prepared once any crisis has occurred.
- Do not let comfort control
Move past the comfort of fears. Fears are familiar and therefore mislead us into thinking they are just a part of who you are. We ruminate over them, which leads us to live our lives in a state of self-preservation. While life cannot be a 24-hour thrill ride, you deserve more than just contentment. Expand your comfort zone and allow yourself the opportunity for awareness and inspiration.
- Imagine the worst
What, specifically are you fearful about? Name it. Say it out loud. Then ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen if I take this risk?” Even if you run smack into a wall on your way to making a life change, at least you will have gained some insight and knowledge. You may even find this knowledge gives you courage to tackle more risks. No matter what the scenario, you will have gained the power and influence to decide your own response.
- Imagine the best
Imagine how your life could be different and better once you initiate change in your life. Anticipate the joy, the excitement and the empowerment that comes from being a leader in your own life. Begin with small steps, but take action. There are no “microwave miracles” in successful life changes. It may take some time to see results. The only instant change is in attitude. You’ll finally be in charge of the direction and outcome of your life. Imagine the best, then live it!