Are You Really Ready to Change?

Are You Really Ready to Change?

How do you feel when you look at your life right now – how your day has been lived, the way you look, the things you’ve done and are doing, where you are, the people you’re around, the life you’ve laid, the thoughts that surround you?

If there are things you want to change in any part of your life there’s something you need to know.

And it’s not pretty:

Change isn’t for everyone. Change isn’t easy.

But hang on…I don’t mean that the process of change isn’t easy. That’s the cakewalk part – when we do the ground work and are ready to move the process becomes far easier than we ever imagined. Trust me, I’ve experienced that myself – having lost half my body weight, broken out of the ‘corporate cage’, creating my own business, left a safe but unfulfilling marriage and moved countries – AND I’ve seen it happen as if my magic in the lives of my clients. No, that’s not the hard bit.

The hard bit comes before the actual change.

And it’s about being honest and looking at where you are and what you want with no smoke-screen, no armour, no protection. It’ll make even the strongest vulnerable.

So, here’s what I mean:

These two things are vital in order for you to change:

1 . You must connect with what you want.

And I mean REALLY want.

Not the things you think you can have. Not the ‘better’ option using the skills you currently have. Not the thing that everyone else thinks you should do. Not the option that seems like the most likely to succeed. Not the choice that is less scary than the others.

Drop all that.

Be honest. Dig deep. Go inside. Lose the ifs and buts. Forget about the possible.

When I was 280lbs, it would have been nice to lose a few of those, but what I actually wanted was to be half my weight. When I was working for Microsoft in software support, it would have been nice to transfer to events organisation, but really I longed to unleash the things I was truly passionate about. When I was studying alternative therapies, it would have been nice to set up a practise with a friend in the UK, but what I longed for was to move to Italy.

Those ‘it would be nice’ options didn’t inspire me, didn’t motivate me, didn’t make my heart sing. And I know, because of that, that they’d have involved serious effort and frustration on my part – and I’d have probably given up on them, or been quickly looking for the next thing. Instead, by going for what I really wanted, my persistence came effortlessly and I have loved the journey – actively creating something I really want every day.

What is it you really want? What do you long for? What fills you with so much joy when you think about having it? What makes you go ‘damn right, that’s want I want’?

2. You must assess where you are with honesty.

Look at where you are.

In this process it’s likely your mind will come up with excuses for why you are there, whose fault it is, what happened to you, why it’s difficult for you. I had a huge long list of those.

We’re not interested in that here. We want an honest, direct assessment of where you are. Imagine the past is wiped away and you only have today. Where are you NOW?

The Key to Change

The key to your motivation and to the steps you need to take, is holding those two things: where you want to be and where you are together at one time in your world, psyche, consciousness. With that you are in an incredible position of power.

And that sentence is easy for me to write, but so hard to actually do. Because it’s excruciating, because with it we become aware of the gap between where we are and what we want. And we become even more aware of the pain that we feel in not having what we want. And we become aware of the fear of failure and disappointment.

When, at over 20 stone (280lbs/130kg) I realised that I actually wanted to weigh half that, when, upon the first few steps of a golden career path with financial abundance all around me I realised I wanted to start again, when, in the centre of a cosy, secure marriage with a faithful, beautiful man, I realised I wanted to be free, when, whilst planning a new career in the UK I realised I actually wanted to live in a country I didn’t even speak the language of….the pain was excruciating. Laid in front of me was the vast chasm between where I actually was and how I really wanted my life to be.

And I wanted run and hide – as you will. And who’d blame you? Back to safety, back to the pain of where you are…because it seems nicer there. But the ironic truth is that, in the long run it’s NOT nicer there. It’s nicer where your dreams are.

If you can hold these two things together – and care for yourself as you do, understanding that it’s not easy and you will feel pain, sadness and fear – and stay with them, you’ll start to develop the clarity, focus and motivation to make REAL change.

Photo by Angelo González

Alison Ottaway

Alison is the inspiration and guiding light to a generation longing to step out of the mainstream. She is founder of the life-change movement Path Less Trodden – her passionate, yet down-to-earth message being born out of the many successful transformations she's made in her own life. You can find out more about Alison and how you can walk your own Path Less Trodden at http://www.pathlesstrodden.com.

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25 Comments

  1. Dear Allison,
    your blog post really moved me. The pain that hits when one realizes the huge disconnect between where we are and where we want to be – it’s a huge motivator.

    I think that the biggest thing holding people back when that pain hits is fear. And that is truly a terrible place, being caught between the pain of not having what we want and the fear of tackling the journey. I try to help people ease that fear and worry by using EFT – this is a big help, because the pain is motivation enough to change once fear is out of the way!

    Thank you for your clarity in this article, it’s inspiring!
    – Frauke

    Reply
    • Totally agree – Pain is a huge motivator, but staying conscious around your fears and learning to take action alongside them is vital.

      Reply
  2. I love change. I welcome it with open arms because often times I see notable progress. Just these past three weeks alone has been an amazing journey as I finally took the jump to begin a dream I’ve deferred for the past few years.

    I feel liberated, I’ve learned many new things, and most important of all is that I’ve connected with people who appreciate my work. It feels great to be able to bleed onto writing and have others feel inspiration.

    For that, I welcome change and truly believe I am ready for more. It may even be becoming an addiction because I feel terrible if I don’t notice any measurable improvements over a short period of time. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing, to have ambition.

    Reply
  3. In my present state of grief, while searching for some form of meaningful consolation and

    comfort, I happened upon this passage from David Hawkins’ Power vs Force – ” The

    purpose of the agonies, of the dark nights of the soul, then became apparent – they’re

    so intolerable that their exquisite pain spurs one on to the extreme effort required to

    surmount them.” In shifting from the pain to the purpose of the pain is akin to discovering

    the path towards transformation and eventual healing.

    May we all find our way home.

    Reply
  4. Wow, Alison. What an inspiring story. Change is so very hard, and I found that I was telling myself that I was ok (aka “safe”) when all I had created was an illusion of safety.

    If my health didn’t tank seven years ago, I may not have had the strength to make the transformation I did – even with a loving and supportive husband. Once I started, though, it was really a force. I saw results, and I wanted more. Fun, freedom, love – they are out there for everyone if you are just willing to take those first steps and keep. on. going.

    Reply
  5. It’s really hard to admit what you really want because it’s freakin’ hard to get there. Great article, Alison!

    Reply
  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Alison! I think you’re 100% correct that the key to change is the knowledge of the uncomfortable gap between where we are and where we want to be. Rather than ignore that gap to avoid the pain, we can use that pain to fuel our determination!

    Reply
  7. What an inspirational post. I am currently on the path to getting my health back having lost 25% of my body weight with another 25 to go. Its trying to figure out what I want with the REST of my life I struggle with. Im at a juncture where I am no longer someone’s “something” be it wife, mother, etc. I dont know where to start to find what I want. Its not fear…its more apathy. Great article… keep them coming.

    Reply
    • JC – I work with a lot of people at the point you are. Connecting with yourself and your passions is the way to find direction. Getting creative, spending time alone, remembering what you used to love doing, consciously bringing to mind what you love…those are all things that’ll help you find the real you – she’s in there!

      Reply
  8. Fantastic article. Flowing on from JCs comment, id like to see a post on overcoming apathy, and how to learn to dream. For me personally, sometimes I feel guilty dreaming/wanting for things because they are wants and not needs. I feel a version of guilt that I have the option to dream but so many others don’t; so I stop mysel and turn my mind to expressing gratitude to what I do have. Perhaps if I dreamed bigger, and executed on the dreams, it would enable me to provide me with the reaources to give more to others. How can I get over this feeling of stopping ourself to flourish and allow for greatness?

    Reply
    • Isla – the more you dream, the more you’ll connect with what you can give effortlessly, and the greater the likelihood you’ll bring something into the world that enhances others’ lives. There’s no guilt there. You might like my earlier article on here which is specifically about dreaming: http://www.thechangeblog.com/how-dreaming-changed-my-life/

      Reply
  9. Hi Alison

    So very true….I have been faced with breaking ties with family. This ate at me for months and consumed me because i was trying to fix it but at the same time realised that the reason why i went through this is because who i was as a person and my “dreams” were not being respected. it made me somehow feel less of who i was and that i could not achieve those dreams and i realised that soemthing had to change inorder for me to perservere with my dream and passion. At the age of 39 i am completing my psychology degree and will be a certified life coach in 6 months time as well. My passion is to help others and uplift them out of darkness or whatever struggle they may be going through. I see where i want to be clearly and am heading in that direction but certain family members did not think it possible of me and belittled my choices. I realised that i am doing this for me and my immediate family’s future and i cannot base the choices for my future on someone elses opinion no matter how close. The hardest thing about this change was that i had to fully believe in me and not depend on someone elses view to justify what i wanted. I had to want it really want it for me and that i realised is the driving force between doing something and not doing it…..YOU have to want it no matter what anyone else thinks and YOU have to deal with the consequences to facilitate you moving forward instead of staying stuck and feeling like the victim. Not everyone will share your vision and will drag you down if you let them, not because they can.

    Reply
  10. I salute all those who start life with a handicap yet have determination and resolve to get over them and chase their dreams. There is always a big gap between where I am and where I want to be, metaphorically speaking. Change involves pain as it takes me away from my comfort zone and I have to struggle to capture the dream in reality.
    So, my salutations to you, dear Alison.

    Reply
  11. You’re right that it’s the pre-change period that’s hardest. I’ve found that once we get through that initial time, change becomes natural, constant, and somewhat unconscious.

    Reply
  12. I want to change but scared it ,so I can do nothing.

    Reply
  13. Wow! This article was one of the best articles regarding the process of change I have read in a long time. I really enjoyed how you broke it down into steps but, facing the reality of the process.

    I have worked as a therapist for a number of years and witnessed countless numbers of people who enter therapy as they are bothered by their current situation but, are too afraid to walk the road towards what they really want.

    At other times, I have been inspired by those who actually began making the journey and managing their fears all the way to their promise land!

    As a therapist, I continue to help those navigate the waters of change and sometimes they do need to take the path less trodden!

    Reply
    • Really great feedback, Chris. Thank you for taking the time to leave it.

      Reply
  14. Change is a universal law, everything changes but it is good to read how to make those changes the changes we want.

    Reply
  15. A bit personal, but here goes:

    I’m currently working my way through postpartum depression. On top of that, I’m using my skills and experience in online marketing to build passive income with a business based around a blog. On top of freelance copywriting. And being a Social Media Manager.

    And it’s a lot.

    Most days, I want to stay in bed and hide from the world. The things that keep me moving forward are my 8-month-old son and the blog. The blog is a labor of love for now. I just want to help other young adults avoid the same mistakes I made after high school.

    I’ve been thinking of all the things I want to change in my life as i overcome the depression. My lease is up in April, so I’m looking forward to a change in scenery. I’m afraid because it’s my first time moving away from my hometown indefinitely and I have a child in tow.

    A bus load of “what ifs” keep me up at night. But i know that i need to make more changes. I’ll never be happy again if I don’t.

    Now that I’ve found your blog, I’m hoping it’ll be a bit of a support for me. Thank you for sharing your own experiences to help others. I really appreciate it.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing a bit of your story, Nikki.

      What ifs used to keep me up all night. I remember them – and the astounding drain they can have – so clearly. I feel that having gone after my dreams, the phrase what if has been erased from my dictionary. It is possible for you too.

      I’m glad my article was useful and hope my blog can be too. Stay in contact with me and let me know how your journey goes.

      Reply
  16. I came across this article while searching “how to really change your life”. Last night I had a mental break-down of sorts. I mourned for my life and what its become. I’m 36. I don’t work but am at home all the time. I’ve been married to my husband for 11 years and he’s gone for work about 3/4 of each month. I have no close friends or family members. I try to keep myself busy with my dogs and crafts. I suffer from bipolar disorder which makes things even darker for me. I wake up each day, sit in front of my computer and watch netflix all day. I have no energy so I drink about 4-6 red bulls but then I’m still tired and usually go back to bed. This has become my life. It never changes and I don’t have the energy to change it. I feel useless and like my life is pointless.
    Reading this article gave me some clarity but my problem is there isn’t anything I actually WANT to do. I can’t think of one thing that I would actually want to use my life for. I hope, wish and pray that others never feel the way that I feel right at this moment.

    Reply
  17. I remember reading about complexity theory where the idea of being in equilibrium or stasis (that is no change) is equivalent to death. What we need is to embrace change – not so much that our lives become chaotic but that there is movement and the opportunity for new patterns emerge.

    Reply
  18. Huh, I have to be honest, I’ve thought a lot about change, but never in that way. It’s true that if we put together where we want to go and where we are, we’re more likely to go ahead and change – even if it’s painful.

    Reply
  19. Great article. It’s so important for people to realize that change requires often difficult work, sustained over time, to create any results. The quick fix mentality doesn’t work, change means deciding that you’re going to put in the effort to move in a different direction.

    Reply
  20. Thank you so much for writing this article. I’m about to start college in the fall after having taken a year off from school to dance professionally. My parents want me to go to school and do something “productive” with my life and I’ve just come to terms with the fact that what I’ve always wanted was to be a dancer, to perform. That and I miss my ex-boyfriend of my former life, a relationship that felt so “safe” and “nicer,” as you write. I’ve been struggling with what I really want, whether to go to college or explore other options or to dance, whether I want my ex-boyfriend back…I’ve been feeling so alone and for the first time in my life (I’m pretty independent), secretly hoping every day that someone would give me advice and hold my hand and tell me everything is going to be okay…and this article helped me in that way. It gave me some clarity and courage to keep asking myself why I’m doing what I’m doing and what I really want…and not how someone else feels about it. So thank you, you made my day better and my perspective better.

    Reply

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