Going after your life goals may require a leap of faith, into a major life change.
And the fact is, even if this change will lead to your dream life, full of personal purpose and meaning, change is hard.
Negative emotions are inevitable when you plan to take yourself away from the comfort of everyday routines. And, as you get ready to embrace the unknown, stress and anxiety should be expected.
But, your dreams are important. So, you cannot allow these feelings to shy you away from the change you deserve.
The key to making a bold change in your life is to be prepared. You must stack the deck in your favor to make the difficult transition as easy as possible.
If you are ready to take your life to the next level, below are some facts and tips to help you set yourself up for success.
Prepare for change by understanding that it is hard
Don’t be discouraged because change feels too hard or scary. A lot is going on beneath the surface of your decision.
Change is complex
It shouldn’t be underestimated how much a change in the behavior in your everyday life can infiltrate your core principles.
To illustrate this point, let’s consider the six logical levels of change – used by neuro-linguistic programming practitioners. This proposes the following hierarchy of personal change.
- Purpose and spirituality
- Beliefs and values
- Capabilities and skills
These elements are intertwined. Therefore, a change in one level may result in an adjustment in others.
So, a change in your behavior – like quitting your job, may result in a shift in how you perceive your purpose, values, or beliefs; a challenge to your personal view of identity – if it is tied to your job; a requirement for upskilling; or, a change to your familiar environment.
This example demonstrates how a perceived change in your behavior is actually sending ripples through the foundations of how you understand yourself and the world.
Change is uncomfortable
Cognitive dissonance is the theory that you strive to maintain the status quo of your attitudes and behaviors (cognitive consistency). A disruption to this state causes brain chaos (cognitive dissonance). This can result in anxiety and stress.
According to a Harvard professor of psychiatry, change, even when positive, creates cognitive dissonance. The main reason for this is uncertainty. This can drive you to retreat to old habits. And, due to your biological impulses, defaults your brain into negative bias. (Glass half empty anyone?)
So, remember when you are feeling doubts about following your dreams. This can be because your brain is wired to avoid change and uncertainty.
Prepare for change with planning
Planning is one of your greatest defenses against uncertainty. It allows you to take charge of the change.
Many planning activities can (and should) be done to ease the transition. (And set you up for success.)
- Create a plan of action: Plan the steps you are going to take on this journey. The more detailed the better. If you are having trouble, visualize your end goal and work backward to break down the steps to get there.
- Contingency plan: Scrutinize the road ahead for any potential bumps. And then create a plan for them too.
- Understand and stockpile your assets: Make sure you understand what resources are needed to bring your plan to fruition and get them ready. This could include $$, skills, knowledge, contacts, etc.
- Plan for your definition of success: To ensure this journey is personally fulfilling – make sure your plan strives for your personal definition of success. This should align with your ideals of value, meaning, and purpose.
Prepare for change by embracing positivity
Embracing a positive mindset can help deal with the negativity resulting from this new journey. Below are some suggestions to get you on your way.
- Remember the glass is half full: It is important to notice when you are slipping into negative thoughts and emotions. Use this self-awareness to reframe these thoughts positively. (eg. don’t think of the unknown as scary – think of it as an exciting opportunity!)
- Visualize the outcome: Research has shown that visualizing your goals can support you to achieve them. So, take the time to visualize your dream goal journey to improve your chances and your mindset.
- Build a pros and cons list: A solid pros and cons list will help you prepare for change, as well as, creating an inspiration tool to refer to later.
- Know the “why”: The key to great goals is for them to be grounded in the understanding of “why” they are important to you. Referring back to this, when things are tough, will remind you why it is worth it.
Prepare for a compassionate march forward
To pursue your dream life goals, you need to be ready for a fight. But you also need to be ready to look after yourself.
During this journey, don’t forget you need to:
- Be compassionate with yourself: If it feels hard, that’s okay. Be ready to lean into the discomfort and keep going.
- Prioritize self-care: Be prepared to prioritize self-care activities. Your longevity in the challenge ahead will rely on your ability to embrace downtime.
- Celebrate the wins: Remember to celebrate even the smallest wins. This will help motivate you and propel you forward.
- Have a support network: A solid support network will be important for the ups and downs journey ahead. Don’t forget to join us here at the Life Goals Collective.
So, now you can mentally (and physically) prepare for a major change in your life. You can understand why it may feel too hard at times. And, you know what to do to reduce the fear and jump in.
Although going after your dreams isn’t always easy – with clearly defined life goals, planning, hard work, and confidence – you can definitely do it!
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama