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One Foot After the Other: How to Make Lasting Change

lasting change


Okay, fine, I admit it!! 

I am obsessed with mountaineering documentaries. 

Thank you, sweet, dear Netflix… 

Watching someone going through the experience of climbing a mountain and reaching that final lookout point… WOW! I catch myself holding my breath during their final ascent. 

Achieving the goal they set for themselves, one that they reached literally one baby step at a time, yeah, that’s exhilarating.  

Have you ever climbed a mountain? 

Have you ever wanted to?

Whether you want to summit Everest, scale McKinley, or reach your local cell tower, it’s all about what’s at the top. That’s your motivation. 

If you have fears about climbing that mountain, they typically are not going to be about the vision itself. Your fears are not going to be about the sexy view at the top of the mountain. 

Those fears are often about the rocks and the unknown obstacles between where you are now and where you will be at the final destination.

Imagine focusing on the rocks underneath, the number of miles between you and your destination, or the possible dangers and obstacles in your way. You’re thinking about how hard each and every step is and how much you want to be done with the whole thing. 

Yeah, that climb isn’t going to be very fun… You might even want to quit halfway through. 

Or not even start your climb.

What makes it possible to get up the mountain is that every now and then you lift your face and bring your eyes to attend to the top of the mountain. And you envision and feel how much you want to get there.

You have to be willing to get to the top. 

Climbing a mountain isn’t a non-stop journey. It’s an intentional one. 

Sometimes you take off your hiking boots and massage your feet. You sit down and eat some trail mix (Note to self: stock up on some Trader Joe’s Rainbow Mix). 

Then you look up and enjoy that view of your mountain, knowing that with a strong vision, support for yourself (internal or external), and a healthy dose of useful discomfort you will get there. 

This concept applies to ANY real change you want to make in your life. 

The Change Formula: How to Make the Changes You’ve Been Claiming to Want

If the significant changes you want to make aren’t happening, and you’re getting frustrated with yourself or your situation, I feel you. That is frustrating. Your old habits turn into unwanted habits you can’t seem to kick.  It may feel like you keep running into roadblocks. Sometimes it might even be clear to you that you may be creating your own roadblocks. Either way, the change isn’t happening. These could be changes in your ability level in some area, your discipline, or your habits. These could also be changes in the material world around you— your home, your relationships, your work, your career, or how much money flows through and into your accounts.

If you say, “I really want to change,” what I’d want to know as your coach is are you really willing to change?

Here’s how you know if you’re willing: You look at your results. You look at your behavior so far. 

Stay with me here… If you were willing to change, you would have.

How do I know you’re not willing? You haven’t made the change.

That’s okay! There is NO judgment or shame or blame here. It’s actually healthy to be resistant to change. Change is disruptive and humans like things to remain the same.

But if you really do want to change, there are ways to super-boost the secret key to change–your WILLINGNESS, which is the first thing you need to have before you can make any kind of change. The only way to change is to be willing to. It takes some work. It takes self-awareness. It takes accountability. And it takes a solid amount of awesome creativity. 

The Change Formula is:  Vision x  Discomfort + Support = Your willingness to change. 

Why Vision is Essential for Change

Vision is your ability to see the future that you want, and it’s the degree to which that future vision is compelling and clear. 

When we talk about leaders being visionaries it’s the same thing. The power is that they can create and hold a clear vision. They can paint a picture that is so compelling that it motivates an entire group of disconnected people to work together, which is not easy. 

Ultimately there is one person you need to inspire to make the changes in your life- YOU! 

This is your chance to get creative and step into that powerful Creator role

Connect with your Whole Body Yes and find that electric vision to which your heart, head, and gut ALL say YES!!!

This vision- the idea of the cool wind in your hair, and the incredible vistas at the top of the mountain- is what will continue to inspire you and propel you forward in making the changes you want to make. Creating a solid vision is the first step toward willingness. Set goals for the change that are inspiring, that when you reach them would be a pivotal moment in your life. 

There is NO limit to this vision! You are Allowed to dream BIG. Create a vision so compelling it lights up your world and calls forth your creative energy. You are Allowed to create an incredible vision without fear, judgment, and limitations. 

This vision is the first fundamental piece to the Change Formula. Your vision is the big picture that’s going to motivate you as you face real obstacles along your change journey. When you think you know what your vision is, I challenge you to try and create an even better version of it… one that feels even more motivating, sexy, and inspiring. 

The Importance of Discomfort

It takes a lot of discomfort to make it over the Rocky Mountains in the middle of the winter, but that’s what the pioneers did. 

How did they do that? 

The two important factors are vision and discomfort.  The pioneers had the vision of manifest destiny. We need to get to the other side. That was clear. But another piece of that puzzle was the discomfort of where they had been. They didn’t want to be there anymore. Picture yourself. It’s the Great Depression and you’re in the dust bowl. You cannot stay anymore and be okay. You are so uncomfortable that you are willing to pack up what little you have and a few cents and hope that you can make it through the next day. 

That discomfort is a very motivating force for behavior change, and we seldom use it because for most of us our main goal is often to avoid discomfort at all costs. Think about it this way, if you’re totally comfortable why would you feel motivated to put in the hard work to make change stick? Discomfort inspires us to let go of old behaviors that aren’t aligned with the future we want. 

What’s really key is that you practice feeling your discomfort.

Think about that thing you want to change in your life.  What is it that you don’t like? What’s uncomfortable about it? Dial-in on what’s been making you uncomfortable in your current situation. The more uncomfortable you are, the more willing you will be to get out of the current circumstance you have created that is making you truly uncomfortable and dissatisfied.

Discomfort is your friend in the change process. Discomfort gives you insight into what needs to change. Discomfort propels you into action so you can create positive change. 

Another thing you can do is you can go back to your vision, and feel how much you want it. Feel the desire, feel the gap between where you are now and what that is and could be. 

Now imagine you will never have it. Things will stay the same. 

How uncomfortable is that? Imagine that you take no steps toward that vision. Are you comfortable with that? 

And there’s no right or wrong answer to this, but I think you’re playing with me here because you want to do the inner work to bring about true change. Be honest with yourself and gentle about that there might not be sufficient discomfort right now. Or maybe the vision you thought you made for change isn’t so compelling because it’s not that different from where you are right now. Maybe you’re trying to make yourself change but you don’t truly want to.

Discomfort comes with a lot of wisdom. Rather than push down or placate your discomfort, lean into it and see what can come from it. When you are uncomfortable enough and you’ve multiplied your discomfort by your compelling vision you are looking at a mighty force that will help you become willing to change.

How to Support Your Change

When you have the willingness through your vision and discomfort, that is the time to consider what support would be beneficial to you in this change process. Now, ask yourself, how can I make this easier? What support could I give myself and what support could I seek from others or other resources to make it easier for me to complete these actions in front of me or complete this mindset shift that I want to make?

Change can be as simple as switching up your morning routine to become more productive and as complex as switching career paths or going back to school. Change is uncomfortable and can be scary which can lead to you reverting backward and staying stuck. This is why support is essential. 

Support can look like a million things.  It can be any kind of support.  Maybe you decide to skip a run on Saturday morning so you can sleep in, supporting your body and mind through rest.  Or maybe you hire a great therapist or coach to challenge you, or create a support group of your champions to encourage you to make the big change you want to make. You can read books with information about your desired behavior or habit formation. Or you could plan a get-together with a friend who nourishes your soul with their company. 

The most useful support for change tends to be finding a human to support you.  Being willing to reach out to others for support can greatly increase your chance to make sustainable change. You can find a community online or in person. With support, you can become more self-aware, feel safer, calmer, more self-regulated, and less stressed out while going through the change process. 

Taking Things One Step at a Time

A key component of being a Creator is taking baby steps. Sometimes you can only see one stepping stone ahead and you take it.  

Are you willing to take the next step?

If you are, that is change. The more you practice feeling and following your Whole Body Yes, the better you will be at the little micro-decisions between here and the rest of eternity that are presenting you with the choice of, are you willing to move forward with this or not?

Sustainable change is possible when you tap into your willingness to change, your way of being towards the change, and you work the Change Formula to make the change. Transformation is a journey requiring self-commitment, work, and support. That’s the beauty of it! Change may not come easily, but it happens intentionally and that is what makes change powerful.

Photography by Kelley Raye //

Dr. Caneel Joyce is a CEO Coach and social scientist who helps people break out of the invisible traps and make whole-life changes easily and naturally.

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