So, right at this moment, you know that you want something different in your life – now! But how do you know what changes to make to get you there?
If you’ve done the exercise I gave you in my last post – and you’ve completed the Day in My Life worksheet I gave you then your halfway there.
Because doing this exercise means that any decisions you make will take you on the pathway to achieving your dreams. Believe me! It works!
But that’s only the half of it!
It also really helps to know about the stages of change and what happens when you experience change.
It’s the fear of change that holds us back. Knowing what to expect takes away the fear of change.
The 7 Stages of Change
In today’s post I’ll take you through the 7 stages that we go through when we make changes in our life.
Knowing these 7 stages, you’ll be able to identify where you’re at with various changes in your life. That means you’ll know what to expect next. And it also means that there’s no need to be discouraged when things don’t go according to plan.
My mission is to help take you from being stuck and/or anxious to a place of strength where you can be in charge of your own journey.
The hardest changes can be the ones where the changes have been imposed on us by a change of circumstance. Or maybe it’s a health crisis that has caused us to suddenly rethink our values and expectations.
For many of us in our 50’s, we adopt new values when we discover the ones we had are simply not working for us anymore.
If you’ve read my story then you’ll know that I experienced a long period of deep depression in my 50s. As I was emerging from this dark, lonely place I developed crippling anxiety; like being hit by a bus.
It was more than three years before I felt like I was coming out the other side.
During this period I would try to understand what was happening to me and how I could use this knowledge to get back to full health.
It took some time, but at a certain point I knew the debilitating anxiety attacks were telling me I needed to make big changes in my life. So I did!
Looking back I can see how I went through all 7 stages of change. It wasn’t easy and there were lots of relapses.
I finally realised that I was holding myself back! I needed to tell myself “It’s okay!” and take the massive action needed!
For me, the change I really needed to make was to resign from working in my own business. I knew this would have a huge impact on my family and on the business. And this was the main reason for not giving myself permission.
But once I decided that it had to be done for the sake of my health, there was no looking back!
This decision has not only returned me to full health but also it’s given me a new sense of purpose:
- To help other women over 50 to feel inspired, purposeful and strong.
What I wish I knew then
If there are 7 stages of change then what happens before stage 1?
My signal was anxiety, lots of it. I knew that something was wrong but for a long time, I didn’t link my anxiety with the need to change. And I wasn’t even aware that change was needed.
One of my clients has described it as: ‘I have been stuck for so long now I don’t know what normal is anymore I just know there has to be more then living than this’.
But for you it might be because:
- You’re too busy surviving – juggling family, work commitments, etc.
- You’re not aware that there are options
- No one has ever suggested that you change
- You’re afraid to rock the boat
- There’s simply no need – life has been fine without you’re ever having to consider change
Looking back it would have helped to understand the process I was going through – which is why I want to share this knowledge with you.
The 7 Stages of Change
1) Realisation – when you’ve realised that you want change, but you’ve not yet taken action because:
- You’re stuck
- You’ve hit a wall
- Your circumstances have changed. And now you have to change
2) Preparation – a very unsettling stage
- You can feel like you’re on a seesaw that is taking you from ambivalence to uncertainty!
- You’re seeking clarity on your next move from multiple sources
At this stage you’re still unsure, and unskilled, as to how to make the change you want. But you’re taking the first baby steps regardless.
3) Action – now you’re starting to take regular actions to change your behavior. You’re growing in confidence and able to see the benefits of the changes.
It’s often at this time that you feel you want to share your new ideas and get others to make changes too. We’ve all had a friend who’s determined that they have the answer, and we would all be feel better if we just tried their new diet or exercise plan.
4) Resistance – that’s when:
- Things can feel like they’re going off track
- You question yourself constantly
- It’s harder than you thought
That’s when help from family, friends and coaches can really help.
It’s at times like this that I’ve done things like attending a day-long meditation retreat. Events like these give me the opportunity to reflect on, and adjust to, my changing circumstances.
This is not the time to be hard on yourself. Reward yourself for the progress you’ve already made – even the smallest of wins.
At this stage you’re getting results and feeling good about the change you’ve made. You’re feeling in control and moving forward.
It can often take 3 – 6 months to get to this stage, depending on the context for the change.
This is the stage we may dislike the most – but it’s also the stage where we learn the most about ourselves. Unfortunately, most of our attempts at change don’t work straight away.
Most of us relapse a few times before we are able to fully transform our behavior. This is not surprising. The resistance to change is inbuilt. Staying as we were is safe and comfortable.
On average most people take about 6 – 8 attempts before they actualize long-term change.
7) Success – when we’ve mastered a new behavior. It becomes the new normal.
Once we got to this point, it’s easy to forget that there was ever another way to do things.
So what’s next?
We are in constant motion through this 7-stage cycle on multiple fronts in our life.
We’re feeling stuck inside a habit or behaviour we wish to change. At the same time we’re contemplating another change, and struggling to take action on yet another!
What’s the point?
Growth, learning and challenge is what makes us human. It’s what makes me feel enthused.
But I know from my own experience and working with others that it can be very scary to submit to change.
It takes courage to confront change, and this is something we lack when our confidence is low. But if we can start the process, and stay with it, the benefits are hugely rewarding.
Women over 50
As women in our 50s, life brings lots of changes that are out of our control. These include the ill-health and/or death of parents, children leaving home, menopause, changing attitudes about work, the realignment of values, illness and new grandchildren. There’s probably more!
If we can face these changes with greater understanding, then we’ll be better placed to feel in control of the things that really matter to us. (So we can let go of the things that don’t.)
What’s been the biggest change you’ve had to face as a woman over 50? I’d love to know!
Please leave a comment or drop me an email. I promise to reply.