Change is a process – a guide to change for the impatient

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issue 06 / Agnieszka Wos

When we look at other people’s achievements, it seems to us that they have suddenly become successful. We don’t see the path they went through, only their culmination point (for example, we meet a friend we haven’t seen for a long time and notice that she has lost a lot of weight).

However, every change is always a process, and we will certainly see this when we carry it out ourselves. In addition, it is usually not a linear process from point A to point B, because along the way we get lost, change direction, and sometimes even go back.

This process can also be compared to climbing a long spiral staircase. When we go up slowly, we don’t always notice progress. We may even feel disappointed, especially if we expect spectacular results quickly. Looking back, it seems that we are almost at the same point, but in fact we are already higher.

There are many models that illustrate how the change process works. I wanted to refer to one of them – the “Arc of Change”.*

At the beginning, for change to occur, we must realize what our everyday lives look like. This observation can make us want to change. This first stage of the process is “Awareness.

It is the foundation for effective change (as I wrote about in the previous article). We need to discover our true needs, find our “why”. The vision of the future we imagine will be our deep internal motivation, the source of our commitment. Next, we need to transform this vision into a specific goal.

There are people for whom this is not a problem, because they know exactly what they want. From my experience, this is not as common as most of us think. Sometimes it takes as many as 3 coaching sessions to clarify the goal. Consider whether in your case the failure to implement a change resulted from a poorly defined goal.

A well-defined goal is one that we can measure. Sometimes physical measurements come to our aid, e.g. when we want to lose weight, we can determine that “I want to weigh a specific result in kg”. However, many goals are not easily counted. For example, when we talk about learning German. It is not easy to answer the question when I actually know this language and when I don’t yet. In this case, the measure will be the answer to the question: How will I know that I have learned German?

Many of our goals are not only dependent on us, we do not have 100% control over their implementation. For example, making my company achieve a certain level of income depends not only on me, but also on external factors, market trends, competition, legal regulations, etc., and therefore beyond my control. When we want to make a change, we need to transform these business goals into ones that we can influence.

The SMARTmodel is used to define the goal well.
When using this method, it is important to honestly answer the following questions:

S What exactly do you want to achieve?
M How will you know when you have achieved it?
A Why is this important?
R What resources do you need?
T When will the effects be felt?

If someone does not like this model, they can use other methods (e.g. visualization, dream map). Personally, when working with clients, I most often combine analytical elements of SMART and a metaphor that activates our intuition, based on coaching cards.

I use the schedules I have developed for this purpose. When using one of them, together with the client, we also look at his or her resources (physical, emotional, intellectual and social). Deepened knowledge about broadly understood powers makes achieving the goal much easier.

If we already have a well-defined goal and we know what we want, now it is time for the second stage of the change process, “Searching“. It involves analyzing, looking for solutions, building options and taking action.

The analysis and then planning phase is very necessary, but we must be careful that it does not turn out to be an element that inhibits change. We can fall into analysis paralysis. If we are very afraid of change, we will want to carefully consider all the details, constantly correct them, improve them, until we get stuck in it and never get around to implementing them. I have personally experienced this myself. I started doing too many analyses, plans and scenarios and I got stuck in it for a very long time. Because of this, I lost a lot of time and several opportunities.

Moving to the action phase means trials, successes, failures, and drawing conclusions.

This is an important stage. When operating in a new area, we make mistakes. Something just isn’t working out for us and we have to deal with it. We improve things and sometimes we go backwards. All failures happen to each of us. We forget about it, because although successes are publicized, rarely anyone talks about failures. It seems to us that only we experience failure, and others follow the straight path to success.

When making a change, we step into the role of a student. As mature adults, when we start something new, we often turn from a master (we have already worked out something, achieved something) into a beginner student. This can arouse negative emotions that inhibit us if we are not mentally prepared for it. As a student, we make some clumsy steps and make stupid mistakes. You have to give yourself space for this, enter into this new experience.

So the key question arises: Can you be a total beginner?

Do you give yourself space for mistakes and clumsy steps?

Can you let go of the role of master?

When the change finally takes place, when we achieve success, we move on to the last stage of this process, “Stabilization“. It’s time to consolidate the change. Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows that losing weight is one thing and keeping it off for at least a year is another. Only maintaining the change and stabilizing it means the end of the entire process.

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