7 Secrets to Change Your Life – and Make It Stick

small steps big changesYesterday we uncovered some reasons why change may be difficult and I can tell you for sure that many of them have applied to me in the past – and some still do! Even when we really, REALLY want something, it’s so common for resistance to kick in and provide us with unlimited excuses as to why we don’t need to do anything right now. And the truth is we don’t need to – in most cases we can carry on as we are almost indefinitely, if we’re prepared to put up with the consequences. It’s “safer” – or at least it feels safer – to stick with what we know.

And then one day we wake up and we’re 50 or 60 or 70 … and looking back on a life half-lived, full of regrets for what we didn’t do when we had the chance, or the hot body, or the health.

Every so often I do a little exercise I learned from a book called “The Tools” by Barry Michels and Phil Stutz. I think this one is called “Jeopardy”, it’s the last one they talk about and for me, the most effective.

It requires you to imagine, in as much detail and with as much emotion as you can, lying literally on your deathbed, a few hours from death, and looking back over your life. Think about the people you’ve known, the experiences you’ve had – and ask yourself, honestly: did you live the best life you could? Did you live up to your potential? Did you use your gifts and talents fully? Are you satisfied with how your life turned out, now that there’s no time left?

The first time I did this, I was in tears. I realised that even with all the changes I’d made by then (in 2012), there were still so many things I’d hoped to do but hadn’t. I’d had so much potential but never used most of it; I’d lived an average, mediocre life compared with the one I could have had and in most cases, all that had held me back was fear. I resolved right then that even though it was simply too late for some things, I was going to live the best life I could from here on.

That’s when I looked back over the major changes I HAD achieved and saw the pattern that made them easy and natural so that by the time I stepped into them, they were already my new normal and didn’t seem like such a big deal.

Today I’m going to outline the seven steps I went through but there’s a lot more to say about some of them, so I’ll get into more detail over the next few days.

7 Small Steps to Make Big Changes in Your Life

Step 1 – Appreciate where you are
This probably isn’t the one you expected as the first step. Most articles about change say that the first step is to be clear about what you want and that’s certainly important, but I found that knowing where I was and what was good about it helped me understand what I needed in the future.

Before I left my corporate job, I literally wrote a list every day of what I appreciated about it and the people I worked with. Some days the list was shorter than others! I remember one of my lists had a single item on it – that my colleague had made me laugh. Most days though I could fill a page in a (small) spiral notebook and focusing on what there was to be grateful for made the days less stressful and brought me more clarity for the next step.

Step 2 – Know what you want and ask for it
Just as you need to punch your destination into your car’s GPS before it can show you how to get there, you need to get clarity about the outcome you want. The important part of this step is not to get caught up in how you’re going to get there but to focus on how your life will look AFTER the change. What will you be doing? And more importantly, how do you want to be feeling?

Journalling is an important tool for this step because the physical act of writing (or typing) fires up a different part of your brain than simply daydreaming, and forces you to get specific. Start by writing out what an ideal day would look like in your new life from the moment you wake up, and include how you feel as you move through the day.

Step 3 – Visualise yourself in the future
Having written your ideal day in step 2, now it’s time to live it in your imagination. Use all your senses in this and be aware of your feelings. The idea is to make your new life feel normal and not out of reach.

Note any areas that feel awkward and unnatural to you at the moment – these are the ones that would block you if you simply jumped into the change now, without preparing for it. Keep visualising until every part of your future life feels natural and comfortable.

Step 4 – Take inspired action
Watch for the small signs and driftwood that show you you’re on the right track and as soon as any action occurs to you, take it immediately. I got a nudge to read the classified section of a local paper that I never even opened, usually – and found a advert for a job that could have been written just for me and that I did with enormous satisfaction for the next 5 years.

Step 5 – Master your emotions
Emotional mastery is a sign of maturity but in this case we’re using emotions as guidance on whether your thoughts are serving you or standing in your way. For some people (I’m one of them) their thoughts create their feelings. However you may be one of those who has to express and process their feelings in the body first before they become aware of their thoughts. Which are you?

Step 6 – Align with your outcome
In practical terms, that means start living as if you already have the outcome you want. How does someone with the body you want eat and move? How does someone with the relationship you want communicate with their partner? If you were the successful entrepreneur you aspire to be, how would you start your day?

Right up until my late 30s I was a nervous flier; I would take tranquilisers and grip my partner’s hand hard during take-off. Then one day I had to fly to Paris with a group of strangers and he was too sick to come with us. I decided to see myself as an international businesswoman for whom flying was as common and stress-free as taking the train. It worked and I’ve never needed medication or hand-holding since (although sometimes I pretend I do if the guy sitting next to me is cute!)

Step 7 – Step into it
When the change you want feels like the next logical step, take it! Don’t hesitate and second-guess yourself – you’ve done the work, now claim the prize. It should seem natural and effortless, as if you’re being carried along and the steps you’ve taken to get here will have soothed your primal brain’s fear of change so it won’t sabotage you.

Have you made big changes in your life that have stuck and if so, did you follow a similar sequence? I’d love to know! Comment below or message me on my Facebook page if you’d prefer to keep the details private.

One more thing:

If you know in your heart that this is YOUR time and you’re willing to stand up and claim your legacy, I’d love you take one of the few spots I’m opening up for private email and Skype coaching this month.

In less than a month you’ll be clear about what a happy and fulfilled life looks like to you, you’ll have a plan for how to get there and you’ll already be taking action towards living the life you were born for, all with my support. You’ll get unlimited email access to me for one month to unearth your dreams and start making them come true. You can email me whenever you want and as often as you want during the month and I’ll always get back to you within 24 hours and usually within the same day, plus you’ll get a bonus 1 hour Skype or phone call with me that alone is worth hundreds of dollars, all for a ridiculously low price.

Email me or >message me on Facebook and I’ll give you all the details. But do it NOW! Because this is private, one-to-one coaching I can only take on a maximum of 10 people a month and some of the places for this month have already gone.

Coming up: How to become the next version of You

10 Responses to “7 Secrets to Change Your Life – and Make It Stick”

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  1. Linda Reed Friedman says:

    Great article! Yes, it all works!

  2. I’ve always skipped that first step. It keeps me motivated for the next 6.

    • Isobel says:

      Thanks for a different perspective, Roy ๐Ÿ™‚ Appreciating where you are doesn’t mean you have to like every aspect of it, but it can help to provide a jumping-off point for change. Maybe try it next time and see how it works for you?

  3. I love all these tips, especially about appreciating where I am…I truly believe to advance, we first have to appreciate where we are!

    • Isobel says:

      I agree Bianca, on a purely practical level it can be hard to focus on a positive future when you’re miserable in the present ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Really good piece. One of the things I’ve learned as I get older is to not be afraid. Go for dreams. Ask for things. Step in and step up. A lot of the things you’ve touched on basically. Thanks!

    • Isobel says:

      Thank you Jenny ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s so true, “If not now, when?” I find as I get older, I have more incentive and less fear. I wish I’d been this unafraid when I was younger though!

  5. Although much of what you say is not new to me, I love how you map it all out in your 7 step process! And as others have said, I agree and this works!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Isobel says:

      Thanks Paul ๐Ÿ™‚ I used to think it was simply a matter of chance or willpower if changes stuck or not, so it was liberating for me to discover the pattern and realise I can reproduce it whenever I want.

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