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It is said that the only thing constant is change. The world around us is forever in a state of flux giving rise to new technologies, governments, policies, working conditions, bosses, family situations, and even our own bodies as they evolve with time.
Change is a phenomenon that comes to us of its own accord. However, one special ability humans have over all other life forms is the power to effect change. That is, we have the capacity to envision something different in our world, and mould our lives through our own planning and effort. This could pertain to gaining a new skill, improving our work situation, becoming better at interacting with others and so on.
Years back, Mahatma Gandhi gave great advice about how we can alter our realities. He urged us simply to “be the change you want to see”. Straightforward and poignant, the suggestion seems self-evident. However, even armed with this mantra of morphing, one might not find this proposition as easy as it purports to be. We want things to improve, and we try our best to alter the situation, but in the end, we find ourselves not much further along than when we started. The reason change is so hard is that we become conditioned–our minds fall into patterns, giving rise to psychological limitations that act as obstacles to our evolution. But while these restraints might feel like chains binding our progress, they are not indomitable. Conquering them requires a more detailed strategy–an approach that takes into consideration 5 key elements that you need to monitor and act on.
Awareness: You need to be aware of what the actual problem is. You must also accept that it is a problem.
Willingness: You need to be willing to make that change.
A Method: You need a strategy to make that change.
A Goal: You need to have a clear end state of what things will look like when the change has taken place
Perseverance: You must be willing to stick it out for the long term until you achieve the goal.
Take losing weight as an example. If you are carrying around more excess baggage than is good for you, you need to be aware of the fact, and be ready to accept that it’s an issue. You could laugh at your bulging belly and ignore comments from family and friends, but everything begins once you accept you have a genuine problem. Next you need to be willing to do something about your weight problem; without your consent, you will be the perfect obstacle in your own path. When you give yourself the green signal, you then need to adopt a method to start slimming down–either exercise, dieting, health treatments, and so on. By having a clear idea of how many kilos you’d like to drop, you give yourself a specific target to be achieved (it makes it much easier to hit the target when you have one!) And finally, and probably the most challenging, is perseverance: you need to stick with the plan until you achieve the goal.
Over the years, I have seen many people aim to change something about themselves, and I have noticed that the ones who succeed pass all these tests. The ones who don’t inevitably fail at one or more of them. Change is good. I hope that the above 5 point process will make “being the change” a lot easier.
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