How to Make Change Work for You

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
– Socrates

Today we awoke to news dominated by the subject of change and what it means for our future. Change, after all, can seem either unsettling and worrying or positive and exciting, depending on how we view the change itself. Resistance to change often arises from fear that change will make our situation worse or from a fear of the unknown. As human beings we are on the whole creatures of habit, so whether it’s ending a relationship, moving job or home or losing someone you love, change be it positive or otherwise, can cause us stress.

Whether we like it or not though, change is part of life, some of it will be within our control and some of it will not.  Having been through a series of personal changes in my own life in the last two years including the end of my marriage, the start of a new relationship and a current house move to plan for, I have had no choice but to adjust – like finding myself on an unexpected river, I could either start swimming or be pulled under by the current. Naturally, I chose to swim and have in the process slowly learned to embrace the changes that are happening in my life. It was hard at first because I didn’t know where I was going. Everything felt uncertain and I had a few sleepless nights worrying about what the future held for me.  I spent a long time grieving for the life I had lost and all the familiarity that it brought with it. Where did I go from here…?

Life can feel pretty tough when we experience these kind of changes, when we experience loss or what feels like a crappy hand. However, one thing I have learned is that whether we want change in our lives or not, it always teaches us something about ourselves and becomes part of our own personal evolution. It takes courage to let go of what is familiar and embrace what is new. We may initially find change hard, however, with a natural survival instinct born into us, when it comes to the crunch and there is no other way, we learn to adapt, to write a new story for ourselves, to rip up the pages and start again, perhaps with a new sense of clarity on who we are meant to be.

“Change is inevitable, but personal growth is a choice.”
– Bob Proctor

I always get blown away by the thought that the lives we currently live are all as a result of choices made by ourselves and others. When we are children, we have little choice over how our lives are shaped. Our parents make the choices for us, what schools we will go to, what values we will learn, how we will live. However, with the foundation laid by our parents in place, once we reach a certain age, we begin to shape our own lives, from how committed we are to our education, to the type of careers we choose to follow, the friends we make, the kind of partner we make the decision to be with. Life it seems is just a series of choices that leads us to where we are today, some made by ourselves and some made by others on our behalf.  Apart from the changes we cannot control in life such as illness or death, change on its most basic level is about choice.

If we choose to do nothing with our lives, nothing is likely to change. Perhaps the reason many of us don’t make changes is because we are simply comfortable and settled. We stick with the ‘better the devil you know’ and continue with our habits whether they bring us fulfillment or not.  However, no matter how fulfilled we may be, there is always likely to be one area of our lives we could change for the better even if it’s something as simple as eating healthier, finding more time for ourselves, keeping fit or getting organised – in order to grow, we need to open our minds to the possibilities that are out there for us.

Having learned to embrace my own life changes I feel excited by the possibility of the opportunities that are out there in the world.  I have realised though that whether change is thrust upon you or whether you make the changes yourself, how you move forward is ultimately within your own control and is a choice owned by you. I see, everyday, stories of success from individuals with humble backgrounds who transform their lives simply by running with an idea. The same qualities run through each and every one of them – passion, determination, drive and self belief. They are not afraid of trying things that don’t work out, because if it doesn’t, it simply becomes a hurdle to jump over in their overall pursuit of success. They do not wait for success to come to them, they are hungry and they go out there and they get it and if they don’t know all the answers, they find them out!

How to Make Change Work For You

It goes without saying that most of us lead busy lives. Like hamsters on a wheel, we get up everyday and perform the same routines over and over again. However, one thing that pays is to occasionally jump off the wheel, stand back and take a look at how we’re doing. In these moments we are able to really look at our lives and think about what it is we love, what we want to change and whether we in fact need to take a fresh approach. Think of it a little like a life MOT and question if there is something you could fix to make things run better.

If you do decide to make a change, whether it be big or small, it’s going to take some work and it’s going to take some courage and commitment. It’s human nature to shy away from things that seem like hard work or that scare us, but like the saying ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ if we don’t jump out of our comfort zone occasionally, we may never truly be the best versions of ourselves.

Sometimes, we may desperately want to make changes but perhaps we don’t have the confidence to make the leap. We feel trapped by our circumstances and can’t see a way forward. However, in most situations, there is some sort of solution. So in situations like these, picture yourself where you want to be. Visualise the life you want to create and treat it like a mental Pinterest board. Collate ideas in your head and then make a plan. There maybe many pieces to fit in the jigsaw before we make it to the big picture but if we keep making small changes we are likely to see it in the end. It is likely to be hard in the beginning, you may even hate the change to begin with and every fibre of you will tell you to give up because you are swimming in unfamiliar waters or swimming against the current, but then picture the beautiful island at the other side and imagine how amazed you’ll be when you finally reach the shore…if you truly believe you’ll make it there, then chances are, you probably will!

Dress by Topshop

Photography: Barrie Downie

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