I have change on the brain. This month, I’ve been giving Becoming Who You Are a spring clean, updating the site’s appearance and shifting its focus to being about our relationship with ourselves, rather than the broader topic of ‘authentic living’ (what do you think?). This week, I’m returning to Mexico for another six months. Although I can’t wait, there’s a lot going on and I’m looking forward to being settled in the sunshine.
To honour all the changes happening in my life right now (and, it seems, in a lot of other people’s lives too), I’m writing about how to know when it’s time for a change. Sometimes, we need change but we avoid it because it’s scary. Other times, we feel the urge to change but that urge is coming from a place of distraction and acting out, rather than being truly good for us.
Here are a few criteria I’ve found helpful for finding that sweet spot in the middle:
1. You’ve asked the important questions and come out clear
If we dig deep & examine our desire to change, we’re taking control of the change process rather than letting it control us. (Tweet this)
At a minimum, these questions are:
- Am I avoiding growth or promoting growth? Really?
- Am I distracting myself from something else in my life that’s making me uncomfortable?
- How am I going to feel about this decision this time next year? In ten years?
- Does this change align with my values and long-term life vision?
2. You’re feeling flat/bored/disinterested
Sometimes, boredom is a manifestation of self-sabotage—which is why it’s important to put on our honesty caps and answer the questions above.
Sometimes, however, boredom is just boredom.
When a situation is no longer serving our needs, supporting our growth, or aligned with where we want our lives to go, that feeling of disinterest or general “meh” could be a sign that it’s time for a change.
3. In your heart of hearts, you know you’d really rather be doing [X]
By ‘heart of hearts’, I mean that deep gut instinct, which tells you everything you need to know about the situation you’re in. Sometimes those messages are challenging to hear so we get used to blocking them out. Even so, they’re still there and the more we practice tuning in, the more we’ll be able to get back in touch with what really gets us out of bed in the morning.
When we feel ourselves drawn to alternative situations, activities, or people, it’s not necessarily those situations, activities, or people that we want. More often, it’s the feelings those situations, activities, or people generate within us. When we recognise that and identify the missing feelings we’re longing for, we have many more options available to help us meet our needs.
4. You’re struggling to define why you’re doing what you’re doing
Start With Why by Simon Sinek is mainly geared towards entrepreneurs and business owners, however the messages in the book are applicable to our personal lives too. If we don’t have a clear “why” for what we’re doing, then it might be time to reconsider how we’re spending our time.
That doesn’t necessarily mean we have to rush into any changes, it just means we need to think about this question of “Why?”. Once we have an answer, we’re in a position to make a conscious, educated decision about our next move.
5. The main reason you’re still doing what you’re doing is that you’re afraid
With any change, however big or small, comes a level of uncertainty. Some people thrive on uncertainty, some people will do anything to avoid it (yes, hi!).
If you’re afraid of making a change, examine your fears. Even the most ridiculous or mundane-sounding fears carry an undercurrent of truth, which usually involves a disaster scenario where we end up compromising one or more of our core needs or values. As much as we might understand that everything will be fine on an intellectual (left-brain) level, on an emotional (right-brain) level, we might be paralysed with fear.
Does this sound familiar? If so, think about how you’re viewing the situation emotionally:
Are you approaching it from a place of scarcity or a place of abundance?
In other words, are you focusing on what you risk losing at the expense of recognising what you could gain?
Embrace the abundance mindset by thinking about all the ways in which changing your situation could benefit you. This does not mean stamping out your fears—remember that your fears are trying to protect you—instead, it’s about balancing your view so you can make the decision that’s best for you.
6. The main reason you’re still doing what you’re doing is all about other people
This is a blog topic in itself but, for brevity, let’s just say that there are many, many reasons why we might stay in a situation for other people, when we’d be long gone otherwise. We might want to avoid conflict, feel the need to prove ourselves, not want to hurt someone’s feelings, want to fulfil a certain “role” in that situation, and more.
Although we might name other people as the reason we can’t change a situation, in reality it has nothing to do with other people and everything to do with us. When we would ideally like to change a situation, and we hold other people responsible for not making that change, we’re not being fair on ourselves or them.
If you find yourself using other people as the reason why you can’t change something, take a look at the real fear underneath. More often than not, you’ll find it has far less to do with your relationships and far more to do with a belief you hold about yourself.
7. You’ve been waiting for the right time, but when you look back you realise that the parameters for the “right time” keep changing…
I am an expert at the “I’ll start …. when I’ve done/have …” mindset. Sometimes there are valid reasons to wait before making a change. When those valid reasons themselves keep changing, however, that’s a sign that something’s up.
With some changes we’ll know when it’s exactly the right time to make our move. With other changes, there will never be exactly the right time. The longer we keep waiting for it, the longer we keep ourselves stuck.
How do you know when it’s time to make a change? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.