Many of us are at a crossroads in our lives. We may have a good thing going… great career, wonderful family, money… but secretly we desire something more. If you are at a juncture in your life where this resonates with you than you have two options. Keep doing what you are doing and enjoy stagnation, or embrace the fears associated with change and find ways to lean into your discomfort.
Recently I acquired a new client who is a young professional aspiring to build his sales business. He’s stuck in many ways but after our first session he is starting to move forward again. Coaching has brought him clarity, vision, and action to support his professional goals and although I will not discuss the personal details (to protect anonymity) I do want to pay forward some of the things that our session revealed because I believe that they are helpful to all of us looking to create change.
- Find a mentor. One of the main reasons that people don’t do new things in their lives is simply because they don’t know how. People who have desires for change and achievement yet don’t know what to do about it are stuck. I’ve often said that the shortest distance between being stuck and change is to ask questions… but who do you ask? A mentor. Mentors should be experts in the area you are seeking answers to. They are people accomplished in the same ways that you desire. Access to mentors is the fastest way to access the information necessary to achieve the type of success you wish to emulate. If you’re new to real estate, find a mentor in your office that has a business model you admire. If you are a new teacher, find a veteran teacher who has the types of relationships with staff and students that you value. If you are a struggling student find a peer tutor who is a successful scholar. Identifying and selecting a mentor is something that should be taken seriously. You want to be sure that you connect with individuals who personify the level of success and the values that you want for your own life.
- Learn to say goodbye. The change process is often halted by our fears about how people around you will react when you start to be different. If you stop/reduce drinking how will your bar friends feel? If you become health conscious how will your “foodie” peers react? If you decide to elevate your status through education or career advancement how will your less successful/educated family and colleagues react to your growth? When you create change you have to be comfortable saying goodbye. Quite simply… not everyone will be able to join you down new roads of life. Some won’t have the money… some the intelligence… and some the willpower. No matter the reason, it is crucial that you stay committed to your aspirations and that you accept the idea that you will have to say goodbye to parts of your former lives when you replace those parts with your claimed change (and related behaviors). Dr. Ruby Payne wrote a brilliant book called A Framework for Understanding Poverty in which she describes the difficulties people face when they move from one social class to another. Weather you move up or down in class… but especially when you move up… you will inevitably lose connections with some, if not all, of the things and people that used to surround you when you were in a lower class. it sounds harsh to say… but lower class people simply cannot keep up with classes above them. They don’t have the resources to do so (monetarily, socially, educationally, or emotionally). When creating change, it is important that you learn to be comfortable saying goodbye to things from our “former” life that could potentially stop you from achieving your goals. Severing some of these ties is a necessary part of the change process. You have to trim the fat.
- Choose growth over false pleasure. Recently Brooke Castillo talked about “discomfort on purpose” on her podcast “The Life Coach School Podcast”. Brooke happens to be a mentor of mine and when I heard what she had to say about choosing discomfort I knew I had to share it with my readers. According to Brooke there are two types or discomfort… that caused by stagnation, and that caused by growth. You can feel discomfort because nothing is changing (and you want it to) or because everything is changing (and you want it to). For those people who want to create and sustain change in their lives discomfort caused by stagnation is terrible and unsettling. And… Discomfort by stagnation is often perpetuated when you choose false pleasure. For example… if you are sad because you lost a loved one and you turn to drinking, you are using alcohol to alleviate the discomfort you experience as a result of the loss. You are not dealing with the loss and how it is making you feel. Rather you are choosing the false pleasure of alcohol as a means of coping. As a result you are faced with the same feelings of sadness the next day, the day after, and so on. Until you deal with the originating factor causing your discomfort… your discomfort never goes away. False pleasure perpetuates this cycle. On the converse… For example if you are sad about losing a loved one and lean into the feelings of sadness (perhaps through therapy or even journaling your thoughts) you are experiencing discomfort by growth. When you embrace the things that make you uncomfortable (sadness, fear, intimidation) you automatically align yourself with the change process. This is when being uncomfortable allows you to grow and develop in both emotional and intellectual ways. Your discomfort propels you forward and eventually dissipates. It is replaced by new knowledge that allows for a new way of being. False pleasure simply numbs this process and keeps you exactly where you are… in the discomfort of stagnation.
Creating new possibilities in your life requires you to take stock of current situations and make clear decisions about what to add, what to let go of, and what to uncomfortable with. The development of “the new” is a process that requires reevaluation in these several areas and then some… and it is not easy. However, change… no matter what form it takes… is possible. Stay determined, leverage resources, and always put yourself first.
Peace and love,
Teo Weiner is America’s Teacher. He is a professional Co-Active coach and is available for personal and executive coaching. More information can be found at www.doubleshotcoaching.com.