Changes will always happen whether planned or unexpected. External circumstances and changes will often have an effect on our personal or professional life. How we deal with such changes that are thrown our way says a lot about how motivated and driven we are as a person and about our inner strength. One way to better manage change is to change ourselves to improve and cope up with changes in our outside environment. In other words, to better adapt to change is to know how to motivate yourself to change.
“Change is the end result of all true learning.” – Leo BuscagliaTweet
When it comes to making personal changes during change is to stop being reactive, and instead work on changing yourself by putting the focus on how you can impact your life and redefine yourself. Shifting your focus on developing yourself helps you face and overcome the challenges change throws your way. In fact, many of us stop actively seeking to learn and develop and grow in different areas of our lives and interests as we grow up. But one must never stop learning because much of our learning comes when we strive to improve ourselves.
What makes self-change challenging
It’s often hard to initiate self-change and even harder is to accept changes we make and stick with them. Change is often difficult because it takes effort to stop doing something in our comfort zone in order to start something difficult. At times, the problem isn’t so much about not knowing what to do, but rather for whatever reason, you can’t seem to get yourself started. Or may be the potential benefits of the changes doesn’t seem all that important and you just keep postponing them for later or don’t know where to start.
Also, many of us can’t admit that we need to change, either because we are unaware that a change is desirable, or more likely, we are aware but have reasoned ourselves somehow into excuses that deny our need for change. No matter what your reason might be, changing yourself isn’t easy, especially when you don’t have enough motivation and a framework to work with as it is very easy to fall into self-sabotaging patterns.
Strengthening our resolve to becoming the person we want to be requires us to be intrinsically motivated. For some, change may seem hard to achieve and keep up with because either they lack skills or ability to go through all the required steps towards change. This makes motivation to change more challenging. Lack of motivation leads one into excuses like not enough time, energy time and so on.
Why is it important
Embracing change is essential to growth. But the concept of changing ourselves can be unsettling for many as changing in the ways we want is often a difficult experience. Change around us often creates an opportunity for us to change ourselves. Many people fail in their personal or professional lives, because they are not motivated enough to work towards filling the gap between their current situation and desired state.Many of us shy away from changing ourselves no matter big or small for various reasons. We either brush away our shortcomings, or refuse to improve and prefer to do nothing to adapt ourselves to change.
Changing from within is imperative for personal development and empowers you with courage to face fears and deal with challenges life throws at you. Change not only pushes you to be a better person but also raises your self-awareness, cognitive flexibility and helps you develop empowering mindset, perspectives and attitudes. Personal growth and internal change are also linked to openness, acceptance and emotional resilience and well-being. However, making changes, be it working on new habits, learning new skills, practising new strategies or techniques to achieve your goals is important to prepare yourself better to adapt to changes and uncertainties.
How to motivate yourself to change
Making changes in our life, no matter whether it’s the way we approach problems, develop skills, or to change routines or habits requires persistence and many of us find it difficult to stay motivated over time, especially when you don’t have a framework. When you make your own choices being self-reflective and asking yourself certain open-ended questions strengthens your inner drive to take action to pursue changes you would want. Here is a simple questioning framework that helps you stay motivated to take more specific action towards changes you would want to make in your life.
Where I need to change?
Recognising the problem is the first step towards being more consistent in your efforts and increase your chances of success. The key is to figure out where you need to change. For instance, sometimes what you really need are better skills or techniques to improve yourself. Or may be you have the skills and all you need is to change your approach. Recognising the difference between your present reality and the ideal state can help you figure out what is causing your dissatisfaction. Do I have clarity on what changes I need to make? Tweak the question into different areas of your life such as physical, health, financial, emotional or social, to come up with where you would want to change.
What I need to change?
Once you narrow down to your area of concern, ask yourself, What you need to change – is it the way you are thinking? Do you need to change your strategies or the routines? Or is it the way you feel about the change? or Do you have to improve on your skills or do you need to act on your goals? Changing the way you think about the problem won’t help if you need a new skill. Similarly, changing how you think or feel help you to act on your change goals. Sometimes, we spend too much time trying to change for the situation undermining our strengths and passions. Instead of changing for the situation, figure out where you can play to your strengths, and be more deliberate in choosing to either adapt, adjust or avoid to the situation.
What is within my control ?
A more important aspect of managing change is to accept things that you can and can’t change. It is often easy to set goals to change, but it is equally important is to begin with clear understanding of things that are within your control and those that are not. It is only when you distinguish between what you can and can’t control that you can implement an effective change. Within your control are your choices, behaviour actions and thoughts. Instead of worrying about things you can’t control, you can challenge yourself to change the way you think and act in a way that supports who you want to become.
What I can’t control?
We only feel we are making progress when we understand the difference between those outcomes in our lives that we can influence and those that we can’t. Trying to change things which aren’t under your control are dependent or determined by actions of others only leads to disappointment. For instance, outside of our control are how you are regarded by others, your status or the kind of physical appearance you have.
If you find yourself worrying about something, ask yourself, Is there anything that I can do to change this situation? Are these changes with in my control? Are these areas I want to bring about change are quite rightly my concern? Are the choices within my control or outside of my control? Accepting and managing personal changes well are those who are clear about what you cannot change and to put it on one side. Then you will be better prepared to take necessary steps towards change and taking control of those elements that you can change.
Am I motivated enough?
People who are fully motivated need no help in finding the discipline and structure to make changes in their life, including changing for better. It is always your level of motivation and skill that make you pursue changes you want to make to realise your ideal self. Being intrinsically motivated helps you make changes easier as compared to that of extrinsic motivation.
To find your level of motivation, ask yourself, What is your compelling reason to pursue the change you want? The change you want to make is for personal growth and well-being or is it for external rewards or other people’s approval? Are the changes you want to make are challenging enough? You are more motivated when the changes are linked to a purpose/meaning and achieving them is possible but not necessarily certain.
Am I skilled enough?
The more skill you have for the task at hand, the easier it is to achieve your goal and higher will be your motivation to continue doing it, even if the task is mentally or physically exhausting. We are highly motivated to do things we are good at. Good performance provides good feedback and we are motivated with a reinforcing feedback loop. Similarly, with insufficient skill, you end up with marginal motivation. Our lack of skill at any task reduces our motivation.
Ask yourself, How might your strengths help you make the that you are seeking? Do you have the required techniques and resources? Do you know how to measure your effectiveness? Do you get timely and constructive feedback to improve yourself? Using this active questioning framework, you can gain clarity on the right mix of motivation, skills and feedback for an effective self-change.
What is my self-talk?
What makes personal change more difficult is the negative self-talk you endure along the way. Your self-talk can always steer you away from your change goals. It is your inner critic that tells you that why you shouldn’t go for the change you want or why it won’t matter much. Inner critic is developed by our constant self-talk and the guilt of what if’s caused by it can make it difficult. For instance, What if it doesn’t work out? What if you’ve just been wasting your time?
When you find yourself getting caught up in negative thoughts, it’s always important to influence your inner critic positively by questioning, What if the opposite is true? What if it works out? What if this change leads to good outcomes? What if making this change helps me improve? Influence your self-critic positively to motivate yourself to change.
Are my change goals compelling enough?
When the changes you want make aren’t meaningful or compelling enough, we tend to procrastinate or try to avoid. Changes often fail when you lack the ability to stick to it long-term and to plan to make progress towards a goal. When the changes you want to make aren’t convincing enough, you might find yourself downplaying the importance of the change and give into emotions or want to give up trying.
One way to make your changes compelling enough is to identify the purpose and meaning behind it. For each possible change that you have identified, ask yourself, What would the change mean for you in all the areas of your concern? How would you benefit from making these changes? What might it cost you if you don’t make this change? Why you need to make this change and what standards or behaviour make this potential change important? How will working toward your change goals help improve yourself? Having a clear outcome or vision that includes when and how much along with specific action steps to get there reinforces positive changes.
How do you adapt yourself to change, by changing yourself or the situation?
What often inspires you to change?
When was the last time you worked towards improving or changing yourself?
What areas of your life you can improve by making a change? can be improved by making
How motivated are you to improve your skills or learn new perspectives?
The goal of self-change is to find ways to better adapt yourself to change. The more you strive towards changing yourself, the better you will be to achieve your goals. Your personal growth comes from focusing on behaviours that support you in every situation. This however doesn’t happen overnight and requires small efforts repeated day in and day out with right motivation, commitment and self-discipline. Having a definitive framework reinforces your commitment, and increases your motivation when you need it the most. Use the above framework to evaluate and align your goals, motivation, and abilities to changes you really want to achieve.