The five stages of change
The following text is a written version I gave at last night’s DARETOGROW – April 20th. What an incredible event – thank you to everyone who came along and made it fantastic.
Hello everyone and welcome to DARETOGROW.
The talk I’m going to give you today is a little bit different. I’ve called it – “Changing: the Caterpillar and the Butterfly”.
I want to talk about how you change your life, how you overcome self-limiting beliefs and conquer your fear but I don’t want to give you five tips, or five ways to change. I want to share with you the process of change so that you can recognise the stage you’re in and identify the action you need to take to move to the next stage.
So let me begin by telling you: something has happened to me recently, something really magical, something really powerful.
I now know in my mind, my heart and my biochemistry that I am capable of anything I put my mind to. Correction. I now know that we are all capable of anything we put our minds, our hearts and our bio chemistry to.
Last year, about 12 months ago in fact, I was preparing to change. Like a caterpillar feeling unusual, I was feeling uncomfortable about my current state, my being, my energy, my form. It didn’t ‘fit me’. My life didn’t feel right.
Have you felt that before? Feeling uncomfortable? Like a change was coming?
What had happened was this: I was unhappy with my lot and I heard a rumour – a rumour from another world that there was a better way to live. A fuller, happier, higher way to live. A way of living from a sense of purpose, love and alignment.
I heard that rumour from the role models I looked up to and respected. Steve Jobs, Tony Robins, Les Brown, Lisa Nichols. These people whispered their secrets to me and I was open enough, at that stage in my life to listen to them.
I heard the rumours of change and this is how change begins. (1) There is an unrest in us, like the caterpillar, itchy in her own skin (2) We hear a rumour from another land that there is something else and (3) it pricks our curiosity to the point that we take a new turn, we look in that direction – momentarily at first.
In the stories of Lisa Nichols, and Tony Robins I heard my calling: you can have, be, do anything you want, Lisa.
In the stories of Steve Jobs and Les Brown I heard the alternative: there is a risk you will die and take your talents, your passions, your unanswered questions to the grave, Lisa.
The next time my head looked over ‘there’ it was more of a stare.
The rumours I heard from other lands, from other people – pioneers, innovators, entrepreneurs – had disrupted me. They caused a change in my consciousness, they gave my heart some relief and they stirred my biochemistry.
Let me tell you, 8 months ago I sold the first business I’d ever set up, I downsized Digitia (taking on £70k of debt to do it) and I launched IX7 – the club that was to support me on this journey of epic, unprecedented change.
I gave up my life as a caterpillar and I downloaded the blueprint of the butterfly. I clicked run and I battened down the hatches – I jumped in my cocoon – and I prepared for change.
Perhaps the hardest part of this change was giving up the labels I’d acquired, my identity, telling people – other caterpillars in my life – I didn’t want that life anymore and watching their faces as I let go of everything I knew of myself – everything they knew of me – to venture into the unknown.
Today, I stand before you the butterfly. I am out of debt – I’ve paid off £70k in a year. I am happy. I am living in Manchester, I’m in an incredible relationship and I’m building my dream, but something tells me this is just the beginning.
So how did I do it? How did I change every single aspect of my life and start living from a place of abundance, wealth and joy?
That’s what tonight’s talk is about – these are the five stages of change we must all go through; the stages I went through to stand here today.
Here are the five stages.
- Dissatisfaction with your current life, the ‘normality’ you’ve built for yourself
- You hear a rumour – like there might be an alternative
- You take accountability for your life and know it’s on you to change it
- You take action, you begin to form new rituals, new habits
- You reach a new normal, a different normal: your new life
STAGE ONE – DISSATISFACTION
Let’s start with number one – dissatisfaction.
Think for a moment. How many times have you rolled your eyes at an event, or person or what’s happening around you in life. How many times have you wondered if there was more? How many times have you wanted to escape, run away?
If this is becoming a predominant thought in your life, if you dread something – going to work, coming home, getting dressed, getting up – you’re experience a form of dissatisfaction. You mind, your heart, your body is preparing you for change; for something better. It’s telling you this is not okay.
I felt it – a year ago. I was miserable and sick of my lot. I didn’t know how to ‘be’ in the world I’d created. I felt like I was putting on masks for the different people or groups I was meeting and all of them were faces of “look how successful I am, aren’t I someone you can be proud of, look up to?”
But I was miserable. I would actually say I was depressed. Crying all the time, unable to connect with people. Just battling through. I used to say, if I can just make it through this month, things will be okay, things will get better but that wasn’t true. That’s no way to live and yet so many of us live that like.
It’s obvious now but I had to make changes in my life in order to change the outcome.
So I was dissatisfied.
Now if you’re in this stage, that’s okay. It’s a good thing. Your body, mind, heart is asking for more. It’s okay.
So here comes the next stage…
STAGE TWO – RUMOURS:
Number two, I heard rumours from another land.
Now this is an idea from this book – How We Are – by Vincent Deary. It’s quite philosophical in nature and strangley comforting. He tells really gentle, warm stories of change, of how humans change their lifes and just how uncomfortable it is.
In it he says change begins as a rumour – someone tells us about the new place they live, or the new partner, or a new job, or new club and it’s pricks your interest.
DARETOGROW started as a rumour for many of you – blogs, word of mouth, emails – you started to wonder what it’s all about and you came along to see. This network does represent a different way of living.
Here, we talk a lot about change and change is hard, let me tell you why.
As humans, we are conditioned for consistency. The survival faculty in our brains knows that if today was much the same as yesterday, we’ll survive. Mother nature knows better – it knows that to survive, spiritually, we must change, we must evolve, we must grow.
Tony Robins says that we are only ever happy when we’re growing – when we’re expanding. Perhaps this is why we get restless when we settle. Our brain is happy, our soul is stirring.
And so, we reach a cross roads in life. Stay where we are, with who we know and what we know and who knows us and what they know of us or follow the rumour to new lands, new ways of being, new norms.
I’ve heard the calling many times and I’ve followed it.
When I heard it 8 months ago it was so damn loud I couldn’t think, breathe, eat. The need for change, for growth, for evolution in me became so loud I was uncomfortable as I was. I had to change.
You’ll know that over the last 8 months I’ve changed every aspect of my life. I have a new job (this), I’m in a new relationship, I have new friends, new routines, new values, a new post code. I have a new way of life. I am a changed person.
It was hard, yes, but not impossible.
One of the hardest parts was changing who I am as a person because I’ve learnt that if you change your actions, and not your mindset, or your values, you revert to type – your type. Another challenge was trying to explain to people – family, friends, colleagues – what I was up to. I didn’t really know, I just knew I hoped for better and was prepared to try and make it happen.
So how did I change myself? What to? Well I had no clue. I just knew I could be more, do more and so I started studying the lives of successful people. I read more, watched more motivational talks about people who had changed their lives around and I modeled their behaviour. I did what they did.
Then I heard this great quote: “Some people would never have fallen in love if they had never heard of love”. I’d heard a rumour of a new, happy, purpose driven life and I wanted to know more: I’d ‘heard of it’, and wanted to feel it.
So how do you move from dissatisfaction to rumour? Well you go to new places, read new things, meet new people. You don’t need a plan set in stone. Part of overcoming the fear of change is to accept we don’t have all the answers.
Go and seek out new lands, listen in to rumours, tune into new opportunities and find the new life you want – slowly but surely start to define it in mood boards, diary entries, blogs, tell people. Try it on for size.
STAGE THREE – ACCOUNTABILITY
The next step in the process is taking accountability for your life.
You see every action you’ve ever taken has brought you to this moment. Things you’ve said, things you haven’t said, things you’ve done, things you haven’t done. Becoming fully responsible for your life means moving away from being ‘done to’, from being the victim, to being the driver.
If you’re blaming any one or anything for your lot, you won’t change – you can’t. Stage three is about recognizing the thoughts, actions and rituals you have built that brought you here, and then setting about to change them.
One thing we have to face up to is the limitations we put on our life. The so-called self limiting beliefs we’ve come to hold true about ourselves.
How many times have you thought, nah I can’t do that?
Do you know what, often you can’t…yet. And that’s the ending I add to that sentence. “I don’t know how to build a networking club…yet…but I can try and learn”. “I don’t know how to make £10,000 a month…yet…but I can try and learn.
The biggest thing I had to take accountability for in my life a year ago were money – how to manage it – and my happiness – how to find it. I was overspending and I took a lot of investment to grow. It seems so obvious to me now but if you spend more than you earn, you’re going to go into debt. I always thought there would be a new deal or opportunity just around the corner that would keep me in business that little bit longer and the problem was – there always was! To change my life, to find wealth I had to change my habits around money and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
No-one ever sat me down and taught me how to manage my money. But I didn’t blame anyone for that and I started reading books and listening to audiotapes – anything about money I read and standing here today, I’ve paid off £70,000 worth of debt in a year, and I’m back to turning a profit every single month.
What do you need to take responsibility for in your life? What don’t you know how to do…yet – that you’re willing to learn?
But don’t worry, you don’t need to leave here today and start making radical changes. It all depends where you are in the change cycle. If you feel like you’ve passed through dissatisfaction and you’ve defined the new life that you want, the next step might simple be to just reflect, and think on what brought you to this moment – the choices, ideas, thoughts you held to be true. Just be a witness to those thoughts.
And here is one thing in particular I want you to be a witness of – what cues do you have in your life?
In this book – How We Are – Vincent Deary says that over our lifetimes, we build up cues in our life that remind us who we are. He says that like actors, who take a new prop to get into character – our clothes, home, language, businesses are our props and they put us into character. Is that the character you want to play? If not, you need new props, new lines, a new play.
I wanted to tour the world as a transformational speaker and so I changed my Linked In profile, I updated my IX7 web site, I downsized Digitia, I moved to a bigger city. I looked at the cues and they didn’t give me the character I wanted so I changed the cues.
And this leads us to number four.
STAGE FOUR – A COMPULSION TO ACT
It seems, sometimes, that we all want the outcome – more money, better worklife balance, bigger home, smaller waist – but we’re not really prepared to put the action in to make that a reality. We don’t really want to go through change.
Why? I think there are a few reasons but I think the biggest one is not that it will be hard, or it will hurt, I think we’re sometimes afraid to give up our identities.
And we’re scared because it might not work (you’ll fail) and people will laugh at you for trying to change your life, but we’re even more scared of giving up our community – of no longer belonging where we are – in that social group.
If you take any group of friends, or close business connections you’ll find they’re all very similar – in earnings, in size, in appearance, in interests. We form clubs based on shared interests, values.
When a new kid goes to school one of the first questions is “so what music are you in to” it’s a way of categorising people. We do the same in life.
Yes, we’re scared of changing who we are and that’s why we don’t take the big actions – leave that partner, close the business, move away, launch a new brand.
What I’ve learnt this year is that to change, you don’t just change your actions. You actually change who you are. Your mindset changes. Your values change. How to react to certain cues change.
For example, for anyone who’s tried dieting. If you’ve ever enjoyed any success (1) you vision for your new life has been more compelling than the comfort of your current life and (2) you’ve changed how you respond to certain cues.
And this is hard!! People will judge you for this: “you’ve changed, Lisa”. “Oh have I? In what way”. That’s a compliment. But people punish you for it because it makes them uncomfortable.
And this change is awkward. You’re learning a new part, you’re taking on a new role.
Think about new mums and dads who don’t know how to look after their baby, they’re just learning. Children learning to walk. How to be in a new relationship. How to run a new kind of business.
Every expert once started as a beginner and the only way to grow, to learn, to change is to learn new things and then practice them and it’s awkward to do.
The first time I stood up in front of people and did my talks it was awkward. I was so nervous and my talk was so staged. I’m getting better and better because I’m giving myself the chance to practice. Once, I stood up in front of 500 people and forgot my words. Wow.
During this stage of change you do this awkward dance in between ‘the old you’ and ‘the new you’. It’s like watching an actor in rehearsal – you don’t quite believe it yet. You kind of flit back and forth between the two.
That is the dance of change. Give yourself the chance to change by committing to new rituals – often it’s the tiny things that build up to build a new life.
And this brings me to stage five…
STAGE FIVE – NORMALITY
It takes time to enter a new phase of normality. You face that battle constantly between the old version and the new version. You don’t have any cues, or rituals, or habits or even success stories in the new version to hold you there – you have to build them.
And this is uncomfortable. Change is hard, effortful. It’s a transition and it takes time.
Tony Robins says people overestimate what they can do in a year, and underestimate what they can do in a decade. Imagine the life you could be living 10 years from today if only you invest in new habits, new rituals today?
So, they are the five stages of changes. I hope that in sharing them with you, you will recognize where you are and commit to one action that will move you further into that stage, or edge you towards the next one. Remember, change takes time. It’s stressful because our bodies seek normality and comfort but comfort keeps up locked in mediocrity.
Change is a cycle, too, and we’ll go through it time and time again. And this is why I launched DARETOGROW. DARETOGROW is a network, a club for people going through change and to that end I’m about to launch a new feature. I’m building a club online that we can join to share our stories and support each other. It’s in ‘beta testing’ at the moment but it’s a social network for people who attend DARETOGROW. I’ll share the link with you soon!
Right now I feel like a butterfly able to share some ideas but very soon I will be a caterpillar looking for inspiration, wisdom, a pattern. Some of you will have the answer for me so I ask of you to join the network and support each other through change. I will look for you in the club.
If you want to join the next event, sign up to the mailing list on the web site and I’ll let you know when it comes to Newcastle, Manchester and London.
Have a wonderful day, Lisa