There’s something so tempting about a fresh start, don’t you think? For lots of us that “blank page” feeling is strongest at the start of a new year – it’s January, you’ve got a crisp new planner, and you’re ready to fill it with juicy actions that will take you to the place you want to be in twelve month’s time. Or perhaps you feel it most on your birthday, at the start of Spring, or some other time when you suddenly feel the urge to commit to real change in your life. But before you do, may I make a suggestion?
If you’re feeling like you want to change your life, read on to find out what to do first.
The allure of the new
What’s really tempting when we feel motivated to create something new is to dive in and focus our energy on what it is we want to create. It’s understandable! What you’re imagining probably sounds delicious.
That vision of the fit and healthy you who wakes up well-rested and feeling energised to get out and get moving…
Feeling a thrill of gratitude when you look at your bank balance and realize you’ve got more than enough at the end of the month…
Laughing with your kids on an unplugged family holiday that’s filled with love…
Those are beautiful dreams. And whatever it is you’re wanting to create, it’s definitely important to have a clear vision in your mind of what it is that’s coming to you. In fact, it’s a vital part of the process when it comes to creating the world we want to live in.
But before you swing into “making it happen”, pause for a second. There’s something important it’s important to ask yourself before you dive into making change.
What’s your motivation?
You might have come across the concept of “towards” or “away from” motivation before, but in case you haven’t, here’s a quick rundown.
Motivation to do anything in your life, whether it’s finally quitting that occasional cigarette habit or moving to a new town for the scary-but-awesome job you’ve landed at your dream company, can be split into two camps.
Towards motivation is whatever’s pulling you in the direction of what it is you want.
It might be “feeling free and energised in my body”, or “being able to buy organic veg for my family, all the time”.
Both of those describe a place that you’d like to get to, and that’s what might motivate you to ask for a pay rise or get up and go for a run, even when it’s dark outside.
Away from motivation is the impulse to leave behind the state you don’t want to be in.
So to use the same examples, away from motivation might be “stop feeling so heavy and lethargic” or “not feel anxious about the budget when I do the weekly shop”.
The action you want yourself to take is the same in each of those examples, but the motivation is very different. And it matters.
“Away from” motivation tends to work well at first, but fizzle out as you get further from where you’ve started. Once you’ve got away from where you started, there’s less and less impetus to keep going.
“Towards” motivation, on the other hand, tends to keep you in action. As you get closer to where you want to be, you feel excited – as your goal approaches,it can even feel like you have more energy for what you want to do.
You often appreciate your progress much more because you’re focused on what it is you desire.
You’re more likely to notice each incremental step towards your goal, and celebrate it.
So when you think about creating change, ask yourself what you’d like to move towards before you start implementing any big shifts.
You may find that the action steps you do take are a whole lot easier to sustain. And if you’re serious about making change, there’s one other question to ask yourself that will make creating a sustainable shift a whole lot easier – and more likely to last.
Who will help you?
Trying to create big shifts in your life by yourself can be tough.
Maybe your family are still expecting you to serve up winter stodge, when you’re ready to eat some green things with a bit more crunch to them. Or your colleagues are wedded to the “who can leave latest?” competition, when you’ve resolved to make sure you finish at a sane time and actually get to hang out with your partner for a change.
Having some support and understanding from someone else can make a serious difference to how effective change is.
And it makes it more enjoyable, too.
So think about it – how can you get the support you need?
If you want to start reading more, why not take it a step further and join a book group?
If you’re committed to spending more time away from the screen, why not ask a friend to come for a weekly stomp in the woods?
It might be that the change you want to make is a profound one, that’s going to take a bit more than just a mate to text when you’re finishing work for the day. Professional support, whether counselling or coaching, is a smart investment when it’s time to create real change. (If you’d like a helping hand, feel free to drop us a line so we can chat about what might be a good fit for you).
A retreat, a course, some financial education… whatever it is, find your comrades in the change you’re making and lean on them when you need to.
What would you like to change?
I’d love to know how you’re growing and challenging yourself – and what you’re doing to give yourself the best chance possible of success. Leave a comment below and let’s cheer each other on to make sustainable changes that feel really good.
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