I've done a lot of training and research into making change happen and how to simply ‘get things done'. It turns out there are different ways to combat the block behind this, and it all depends on how your mind works.
In my experience of working with clients, there are generally 2 types of minds
- Logical or Scientific Minds
- Emotional or Visual Minds
The Logical Mind
If we are a logical and/or scientific type of person, once we've truly understood the process of making change happen and the consequences of standing still, this can provide enough propulsion to start the process of change. If we then have the willpower to keep going, we are likely to succeed in our goal. When it comes to emotional matters and changing habits, research tells us a month is a key milestone we need to cross to turn what we want into a natural habit which then starts to become second nature.
One of the ways scientific brains cope with the process of making change happen is to look at it in a scientific way, and, surprisingly enough, I came across an equation.
(Environment+Action) x (Values+Attitude) = Change
The Environment is all about the setting we surround ourselves with to help us succeed, this could be changing our circle of friends, where we chose to go and spend time or even simply setting up a safe space to give us a place to focus on our goal.
Action comes in when we give ourselves the time to focus on our goal. If we set aside an allocated timeslot - and are dedicated to doing nothing else during that time - our brain will fill the time with action rather than boredom. Whether this is useful action or not doesn't matter, a start is a start and making something better and learning from experience is better than starting from scratch.
When we talk about Values we are really asking the question - Why? Why are we doing what we are doing? What is the bigger picture and what is the end result we want for ourselves? Without knowing this we will never succeed at anything, or know when we've got there!
Attitude is the last piece of the puzzle and is really the drive behind all the other parts of the equation. If we believe we can do something, our minds will search for the best way of achieving our outcome and - even if we get no-where to begin with - the journey is always a useful one full of learning and adventure. If we believe we can't do something and research ways others have succeeded in order to try to find a way to convince ourselves we can also succeed, we will likely fail as we will still lack the core belief we can achieve the desired result.
The Emotional Mind
If we are emotionally driven, things get a bit more complication. It’s now about the emotional link between our physiologic responses and our brain, mainly in terms of the pain / pleasure gut responses of certain stimuli. In other words, how our emotions are linked with certain experiences and how our brain is conditioned to feel when we think about making change happen.
The key here is to attempt to recondition ourselves to notice when our mind is doing something which is not productive. Noticing when our subconscious mind is in control is the first part of healing any emotional pain from the past and then being able to make a decision to move forward. For example, if we have a strong Self Limiting Belief (see separate post on SLB’s) that we are not as good as other people, every time anything happens it makes our subconscious mind scream “That happened because you’re not as good as ..xx.. at ..yy..” We firstly need to notice this, then stop these thoughts in their tracks and start to challenge ourselves to think differently.
Once we know why we think and feel the way we do in certain situations - and where it comes from - it is easier to start the process of change by moving our frame of focus to more positive thoughts.
One way I have done this with my clients is through visualisations. In my research into this area, I found that there is a lot of evidence to say that when we visualise an action, we stimulate the same brain regions as we do when we actually carry out that same action. It then becomes easier for us, both physically and in our minds, to carry out the action we have spent time visualising. A great example of this is that top-level athletes have been using imagery and visualisations for years. Some even perform this under hypnosis and have found that if they imagine themselves running a track in a certain time in very specific detail, actually achieving their goal becomes easier.
Over several sessions these techniques allow the brain to get used to the idea of where it wants to get to and the client starts to form an image of their ‘future self’. Through the coaching this image then starts to become someone they build a relationship with. They essentially become their own best friend, giving them credit for achievements and giving them the benefit of the doubt when they fail – something we often don’t do for ourselves.
I’ve even had people use the technique to choose their clothes, their furniture, their careers and even their underwear based on what they see their ‘future self’ having or wearing. The process ends with the client making a conscious decision to ‘step into’ their future self, at a time they are ready.
Making change happen is a process, it is not making a New Year’s Resolution on the 1st of January with no idea of how to achieve it or what success even looks like (more on this to come!). Yes it requires willpower and determination, but it is a lot easier when the correct process is followed, the emotional past is understood and success is both measurable and achievable.
With the right formula and the right support – anything is possible.
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