This weekend, my mother and I had our yearly conversation about what spring bulb flowers are showing their little green spiked tops. For the last 18 years that discussion has happened over the phone while I was in different latitudes and longitudes and I had only the ability to dream of spring flowers. Finally this Spring, I am happily bearing witness to the transformation, and I am shockingly impacted by the excitement and energy associated.
Growing up in a four season climate, I distinctly remember the bodily sensation in response to recognizing that Spring had arrived. Lightness in heart and mind, relief, anticipation, freedom all accompanied the first drives down a snow cleared Spring road as a teen-ager. As an adult this spectacularly special shift offers a deep opportunity for reflection and future orientation. Spring, as an adult, feels like a time for looking back on recent months and looking forward on upcoming months.
Just one of our planet's rhythmic changes, Spring reminds us that each year we have the opportunity for growth, each season, month, day, hour, minute, and second we have the possibility to start over. Every breath, we begin again. I often need only remind those I work with (and at times myself) that everything changes, nothing stays the same, and we need to remember that we are able to start over with each thought, feeling, and decision. This reminder has been helpful for my clients in staying motivated when they are experiencing challenges.
This vast possibility for making changes and taking responsibility can at times paralyze us. We may know that a pattern is not serving us, that a thought process is outdated, that change is imperative toward achieving all that we deserve, and yet we are not able to make a new decision. Sometimes it takes an environmental cue, like Spring or New Year's Day or an anniversary to boost us forward. When preparing to make change, whether it be a pre-defined marked day or a spontaneous reaching of a threshold of tolerance, a systematic thought process toward change can be helpful in succeeding.
To get started toward change:
1. If we could achieve any result from creating change what might that look like? Think idealistically here. What is the absolute best resolution? Write down (my preference) or think in great detail what the end result will look like once the ideal is achieved. Be specific, what is it that we wish for the most and in what time frame do we desire results.
2. Step back and as best as possible objectively evaluate the realistic opportunity of achieving that ideal. It can help in this step to imagine ourselves as an outside observer, what would someone else say about the achievability of our ideal? This is the first step in the process where we really have the opportunity to determine the success of our change. Without realistic desires, we will not achieve. Be confidant and courageous here, if something is not possible, knock that chunk right off the block. Evaluate both results and time frame.
3. Once we have a desired change that is possible in its realism, we must set about generating a plan. This phase in the change process is truly about breaking the change down into manageable goals and objectives. Anything we can break down we must and each separate achievement must have its own time assessment marker. Some of us by nature will lean toward making timelines too short, others of us will give ourselves far too much time to complete a step. Again, here it is helpful to act as if we are someone else, what would an outside observer say is reasonable for time frame?
4. The next step is to look at what resources we have in our life already that will assist us in achieving our goals. Who do we know that has information, what places might we be able to go when we are in need of support, what organizations can we join to build a network, who might we be able to call when we are on the edge of making a decision against our goals? We cannot change on our own, if we were able to do that, we already would have. We likely cannot change in a vacuum, our choices and decisions are affected at all times by our environment, we have to build a preventative supportive environment in to the plan. Our supports must be notified of our intention, what we will need from them, and how they might best assist us.
5. Assessment and monitoring become the last phase of our change cycle. Determining how we are doing at achievement and adjusting the plan and expectations accordingly can help us stay current, focused, and positive. We must remember during assessment and monitoring that making change is difficult and it often entails hiccups, resistance, inconsistency, relapse, confusion and emotions. All of that is part of making change. When we experience these elements, we can know we are taking steps toward achievement. Without these experiences surfacing, we can know we are not urging ourselves forward toward our dreams. It is not how many times we fall down, but rather how quickly we get back up. We will stumble. The support plan we have put in place in advance will determine how quickly and effectively we are able to catch ourselves.
6. When we have progressed, we must remember to allow ourselves the opportunity to celebrate. For each of us this will look different but many of us will want recognition, acknowledgment, validation and or reinforcement. This is warranted and important.
Spring has come and it is a wonderful time to look at all the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual places we have been and those we have left to visit. Don't hesitate to write and let me know how your transformation develops, I really enjoy hearing about growth and metamorphoses. Happy Spring!