Updated: Feb 27, 2020
A Six Step Strategy
One of the most challenging aspects of change management is sustainability, being able to have changes be permanent. This arises throughout all aspects of the change management process. You may have experienced having a ‘moment’ where the discomfort or suffering that you are experiencing as a consequence of thoughts, actions of feelings that don’t serve you, causes you to reflect that “something needs to change”. The ‘moment’ passes, as does the thought of needing to make a change. You don’t even get out of the blocks. If you do manage to be motivated enough to make moves to more seriously consider change, your forward movement gets stymied because of not having sufficient knowledge about what you have to do.
If you do manage to be informed of what is required to change, then the effort required, or what you are going to have to ‘give up’, is too much and the desire for change flies out the window. Maybe your suffering is enough that you are ‘really motivated’ to change. You take all of the knowledge you have gleaned regarding what’s required to make the changes, and you are resolutely determined to follow through. To achieve this, you have to use all of your will power to enforce these new behaviours, thoughts and feelings. You are all over this, until your resolve wanes. You may have been dealt a ‘big blow’ that breaks your spirit of resolve, and the easiest way to manage it is to resort to old patterns of behaviour, of thoughts and feelings that like comfortable old slippers, are very familiar.
How many people do you know that have experienced the whole gamut of these change-failures in regards to diet, drugs and alcohol, tobacco, pornography, and consumerism, to name a few. Maybe you have been there yourself. Like me, I am sure you have had NYE resolutions that didn’t make Easter, or even the end of January in some cases. In the other extreme, there are people who have spent years committed to a spiritual path who still find themselves in arguments with family and partners, unfulfilled by their work, and where stillness remains illusive. In spite of all they have studied and applied, sustainable enlightenment is almost a tease.
When change is motivated by authentic self-love, then it’s sustainable. It is that simple. Love yourself and you will naturally adopt behaviours, thoughts and feelings that will be most serving to yourself, to others and to the planet. When you love yourself that much, it won’t require discipline to sustain a new way of being. The combination of enhanced awareness and understanding the nature of mindfulness, means that you will be prepared to follow the path of least resistance, with awareness.
There are six essential steps to developing the awareness that is needed to make your transformations sustainable. It’s these six steps that will be the basis of the blogs over the next six months. Each month one of the six steps will be discussed in detail, giving a clear understanding of its importance and how it contributes in helping to make change sustainable.
A Six Step Strategy to Create Sustainable Change
Step 1: Identify why adopting this change would be important. What is its value to you? Ultimately, you won’t invest time and effort into anything that holds no value. How would your life be different, and what value does that change hold for you?
Step 2: Learn more about the benefits of adopting the more serving thoughts, actions and feelings and the detriments of maintaining the less serving approach to life. Enhanced knowledge can lead to increased understanding, which makes it easier to make wiser choices.
Step 3: What changes would you actually have to make to integrate these new thoughts, actions and feelings into your life? Where would you learn about what to do, and from whom could you get help if needed? This isn’t about doing anything other than developing strategies for how you could make the changes real in the context of your life.
Step 4: This is learning about the power of mindfulness to bring change and have it be sustainable. This is adopting the self-loving awareness of kinder thoughts, actions and feelings. This component includes understanding how your ‘story’ sabotages change, and how mindfulness sustains change.
Step 5: This is about recognising and celebrating successful change. This is about catching yourself making more self-loving choices and celebrating the win. This is about positive reinforcement which helps to build new, strong neural pathways, the foundation to new, more serving habits, thus replacing the old ones that were much less serving.
Step 6: Reinforce what you have learnt by using your new understanding in being of service to others. When you can use your new knowledge as an act of compassion, the emotional significance super charges the new behaviours and associated neural pathways, making them that much more established and sustainable.
This Western approach to being mindful is fundamental to achieving sustainable change. It’s the combination of being aware of, and being mindful of alternatives that make it possible for you to be kinder to yourself, to others and to the planet. It’s trusting that being mindful of the kinder alternative and then thinking, feeling and behaving (with your enhanced awareness) in ways that don’t require you to be disciplined, will eventually see you making serving choices, motivated by love and not fear. Even though change motivated by love might take a little longer to achieve, there is a tipping point where it becomes the preferred option and when selected, becomes the modus operandi.
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