We all harbor a secret hope that the tough situations in our lives will magically get better. We yearn, hope, and pray for something to change, and sometimes we get so caught up in wishful thinking that we procrastinate taking action ourselves. We’re busy or overwhelmed, or we’re so frantically hoping and praying for a miracle that we fail to recognize Real Rule #19: Ain’t no fairy godmother.
If you wait for someone else (Mom, Dad, God, your spouse, doctor, boss, or minister) to come and save you, you’ll likely be waiting forever. The responsibility is on you to put your life in order and get it on a better track. There are no fairy godmothers. It’s up to you to make changes in your life, even the ones that appear impossible. (“The impossible just takes a little longer” a very successful CEO once told me.)
Making these changes may be the scariest thing you’ve ever done. Imagine a woman sitting at the police station with two black eyes. The officers are saying, “Ma’am, we need you to press charges.” And she responds, “But he’s such a good man . . . and I love him.”
She’s not only scared of her husband’s wrath; she’s scared of inducing an irreversible crisis in her family. Yes, her spouse may have battered her; yes, he may be doing drugs and inviting dangerous people into their home; yes, he’s surely putting their children at risk on a daily basis. But by turning him in, she fears she will be destabilizing their lives in an even more drastic way. She’s faced with going back to the same situation, praying and hoping that it won’t unravel again, or making a bold change that will affect every aspect of her (and her family’s) life. As the saying goes, “The devil you know is better than the one you don’t.”
Being the whistle-blower comes with a cost. Whether the subject is domestic abuse, illegal business practices in your corporation, or your very own BS, blowing the whistle will shake up your world. To be willing to do this, you must have faith. By facing a bad situation and saying “enough!” you’re actually laying the foundation for a better future.
When called to make a change in our lives, we often go through a gestation period. Getting a divorce, making a job change, stopping drinking, losing weight, leaving an abusive relationship—all of these are bold acts that take time and great dedication. You are disengaging from the life you had and reconfiguring parts of your existence. It could be weeks, months, or years until things level out—and that’s okay. These changes take as long as they take, unfolding in their own unique way. As I have said to myself so many times—because it is worth repeating—each of us is a “work in progress.” But we must believe that somehow, some way, our dedication and commitment to opening a new chapter will pay off.
If you’re considering making a significant change, here are some steps you can take.
Step 1: First, form a clear picture in your mind and heart of the desired outcome (i.e., what it’s all going to look and feel like when things do change). This is your anchor. My dear friend, best-selling author and “Spiritual Entrepreneur” John Assaraf, teaches people how to assemble Dream Boards from magazine clippings, drawings, and anything else that depicts their dreams for the future. Making such a board helps you set your sights on a vision. Then you need only have faith in yourself until you can say with conviction, “I can do this!”
Step 2: Get real with yourself about what’s been going on. Take ownership and responsibility for where you are right now and how you got there. Shortcomings, procrastination, excuses and all. Make an honest admission about the fears, insecurities, defense mechanisms, and patterns that have been holding you back from where you want to be and say, “This is what I did!”
Step 3: Be kind and even merciful—with yourself. Instead of beating yourself up for the past, show that you truly understand why, up until now, this was your way of living, surviving, and making sense of your world. You did the best you could at the time. And today is a new day. Solidify your faith in your ability to change over time. It’s about saying: “What I’ve been doing doesn’t give me the results I want and deserve.” If you’ve been playing the victim, for example, you might say, “Victim mentality has been a stop-gap solution in my life, but it’s not working anymore.”
Step 4: Break your plan into small steps on a critical path to reaching your goal. Clarify your blueprint for change by listing everything you need to do to be successful. Also, list all the ways you could sabotage yourself along the way.
Step 5: Finally, take a bold step forward. This means taking action! Implement step #1 of the game plan.
This kind of a plan is the real magic. Take responsibility and own up to the past. Rededicate yourself to a better life, set your sights on a goal and reassure yourself about all the good that is going to come from making this journey.
It’s the voice of confidence that we want to tap into here, not a voice of fear, judgment, and condemnation. This is the voice that has imagined a better future for you and a higher expression of who you are in your family, your job, and your community. And this is the spirit in which we will continue to courageously face up to what isn’t working and do everything we can to change it. It’s time to remove whatever obstacles may be standing between you and a far more fulfilling future. It’s time for courage, faith, and action.
Copyright Dr. Ken Druck. If you like this article, please share it!
Ken Druck, Ph.D., founder of The Jenna Druck Center in San Diego, is a renowned resilience expert, organizational consultant, and award-winning author of several books including, The Real Rules of Life (Hay House). Follow Ken’s blog or find him on Facebook.