It’s about taking yourself from point A (a place you don’t like) to point B (a place that you like).
And, eventually, it’s a change. whether it’s a behavior like the above examples, or it’s about physical changes in your life like changing your body shape or becoming wealthy. It’s a change.
Change is a process. A journey. It might get dark, lonely and depressing at times, but it’s worth it. And having an idea about how the road is going to look like towards your desired change is a good idea. Because you’re going to face some discomfort and pain.
And this is what this article is here for. It’s going to show you the road and what to expect. Those are the 4 stages that you need to go through in order to change whatever you want to change.
(Side note: First of all, notice that each stage includes the stage before it. For example, in stage 3 you’ll be doing everything you’ve been doing in stage 1 and 2. This is going to get clearer as you know the 4 stages.)
The 4 Stages to Any Personal Change Process (or any change)
Stage #1: Awareness
This is where you realize that there’s a problem, there’s something in your life that is causing you troubles.
You start to notice that there’s something wrong, you start to see that your current behavior won’t make you happy on the long term, you start to notice that there’s something sucking the joy out of your life.
And this stage is important, as you can see it’s where change starts. Many people don’t have the guts to look at themselves in the mirror and admit that there’s something wrong in their lives.
Most people try to pretend that there’s nothing wrong, and that’s why they never start a change process; they don’t even think there’s something to change or improve.
If you’re able to become aware of the things you need to change, you’re already a head of 50% of the people, congrats!
Where do people struggle? Many people don’t want to admit there’s something wrong with their lives, here are some possible reasons:
- They have a low self-esteem: they don’t want to “appear” weak in front of people, so they act like they have it all.
- They’re arrogant: they think that they’re too good to have flaws or “things to change”.
- They’re afraid: Fear of change, fear of failure, fear of being judged, fear of success, fear of rejection, fear of being judged, fear of disappointment …etc.
- All of the above, or a combination of it.
What you need to do: Remember that change will only start if you admit that there’s something wrong that you need to change, becoming aware of the negative pattern/behavior is the first step.
Be honest with yourself, become aware of the things you don’t like about yourself/your life.
Stage #2: Conviction and Resolve
This is the most important stage; this is the back-bone for the entire change process.
Before you start doing anything, you first need to make sure you’re really, really, REALLY, convinced that you actually want to change, as simple as that.
You need to realize what will it cost you to stay the same, and that needs to be so strong that it makes you want to turn things around right now.
Do you really want to change? Do you really hate where you are and you want to be in a better place? Why do you hate where you are more than anything in the world?
If a tiny part inside of your brain wants to stay the same, then there’s no force on earth can help you to change, period.
Though my job is to help people change and become better, the harsh truth is that I, or anyone writing/working in the field, can never help you if you’re not convinced that you must change.
Possible reasons people don’t want to change?
- They’re not aware of the problem (they haven’t gone through stage#1).
- There are afraid of change.
- They don’t think they should change, because they feel comfortable where they are.
- They don’t accept responsibility for their lives (they’re waiting for someone/something to magically fix their lives). Read: Develop Solid Character: The Definitive Guide
Where do people struggle? Most people want to change their life’s conditions without changing their behavior, thinking patterns, environment …etc.
Or even worse: some people are comfortable with where they are, they don’t really want to change. For example, someone who wants to go out there and develop his social skills. He wants to become more social and out going and destroy his shyness. But he never does that.
Because yes he wants that, but not bad enough. It’s not a matter of life or death for him yet. It’s not very very important to him yet. It’s not something that his life depends on it. He might feel good if it happened, but he’s OK if it didn’t.
This person isn’t ready to change yet. It must be a matter of life or death to him, like his life, happiness and growth depend on this change.
What you need to do: You have to understand that it’s your responsibility to create that inner realization: I must change, that has to come from within first.
If you don’t believe that the bad habits you’re doing are hurting you, and you actually enjoy them so much, change will never happen.
If you feel comfortable where you are, or if you’re afraid of being uncomfortable while working on change, things will stay the same (and get worse over time).
How to get yourself to want to change?
It’s your own life, and it’s your own mind, only you know how you can create that “sickness” feeling which will lead you to say: that’s it, I must change.
Ask yourself “why?” why it hurts so bad that you can’t stay the same anymore?
When you’re aware that something is wrong, and when you really want to change that thing, it’s time for taking action.
Usually when you feel that you must change something, you will start to do something about it. And it’s common sense; things won’t magically disappear/appear in your life, you need to work.
This is when you go to the gym and workout, this is when you sit down and study, this is when you start learning new skills, and this is when you start taking risks and chances.
It’s an essential stage, change won’t happen without actions.
Where do people struggle? They procrastinate, they hesitate, they make mistakes and never dare to try again, they lose hope, they sabotage their progress, they give up, they don’t do their very best and they don’t persist.
Taking action for a while then stop won’t do it for you, all the procrastination and lack of discipline will do you nothing but keep you stuck where you are.
What you need to do: Don’t fall in the trap of procrastination, hesitation, fear or whatever that stops you from taking action, be consistent and never stop taking action.
Regardless of your motivation levels, regardless of whether you’re getting results or not, keep taking action, cry if you must then get back up, have faith and keep on moving.
Also being consistent is very important, you won’t achieve results only by working for two weeks, you need to make sure you never stop taking action, never screw up your progress by not being persistent.
Stage #4: Growth phase
The most important stage/phase, and unfortunately the most painful one.
Growth phase is the time you need to grow, the time you need before you can see results. In short, the time needed for change to happen.
Changes don’t happen overnight, and you need to take action consistently in order to grow and complete this phase.
And we have absolutely no control over this phase, I mean how long it’s going to take? No one can answer this question.
All you can do is work and take action every single day. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was built every day. The time from laying the first brick until we have a huge building is called the growth phase, and you can’t skip it.
You won’t overcome shyness instantly, you won’t build confidence overnight, you won’t create a successful business out of the blue and you won’t change your body shape in one month.
Where do people fail? Instant gratification is all about the urge to skip this important phase, when we don’t want to pay the price of going through this phase, and when we want things to change right away, we won’t get anywhere.
Growth phase is painful, period. You will face a lot of discomfort, from rejection, disappointment to shocking setbacks, that’s why when most people start going through it they give up and stop, not knowing that it’s a must to go through that painful phase.
Also lack of persistence will hinder your growth, that’s true in the gym and it’s also true in the change process; if you want to grow you need to be persistent, and most people don’t.
What you need to do: Understand that going through this phase is a necessity, not an option, period. it takes time to do anything, things don’t appear out of nowhere, and so is your life, it takes time to change.
Kids don’t grow from 5’3 to 5’10 overnight, there’s a growth phase, and so is change; it doesn’t just happen.
In fact change is a very slow process, especially huge changes, and you may not even notice any difference right now, you may not even notice any change the next month, but after one year or three years you can look back and find yourself on a totally different place, if you have been consistent.
Let it take its time, yes work very hard and do your very best, but let the natural growth process occur and see your life unfold afterward.
Where Are You
Are you starting to become aware that there’s something wrong that needs to be changed? Or are you in the critical step of convincing yourself that you must change? Maybe you realize that you must change, but you’re not taking action as you should, or maybe you’re not being patient enough for the growth phase to complete.
These 4 stages will help you see where you are exactly, and then you can easily decide where you need to go and what must be done.
For example if you’re at stage #1, awareness, you must move to the next stage which is resolve and “I-must-change”. If you’re at stage #3 and you’re taking action but not seeing any results, you need to understand that you’re in the fourth stage which is the growth phase.
Last but not least, usually change is a slow process, and we’re living in a world where “slow” isn’t popular, we want instant gratification. Forget about the time it takes to change, understand the whole process through these 4 stages, then do whatever you can do and have faith.
At which stage you’re today? And what do you intent to do to get to the next stage? Share your thoughts.