Monday, January 16, 2012

Get started making changes: 3 ways to find your start point

It happens over and over again - my clients want to change. I urge them to start from where they are TODAY. They want to change! Things will be better once they are calmer or angrier or more outgoing or more introspective!

Every once in a while, someone considers what I've said, and then they ask the question: "How do I know where to start? If I'm going to accept who I am... who am I?"

Easy, right? Should be no problem putting together a blog post that tells you how to figure out who you are! Well, maybe not so much. But here are a few easy ideas for getting started down that path, and finding out what it is you really want. Because, as I've said to about a million clients by now, people tend to be happier when they change their environment to suit themselves than when they try to change themselves to suit their environment. (Warning: You may hear me say that again sometime.)

1. Pay attention to what worries you the most. You're trying to tell yourself something. If your biggest anxiety is that you have to get up and go to work, is it about working, or is it about the kind of work you do? Is it about performing under deadline pressure? Is it about the people with whom you work? See what I'm driving at? "I'm anxious about work" doesn't tell you much about yourself. "I don't like working with people," or "I don't like driving for 45 minutes a day" tells you a lot more.

2. Pay attention to what others say. Same thing here - what are people telling you that you do well? What are their worries about you? This is less about what people reward you for (because often that's about what they NEED from you) and more about what people tell you about yourself when you really listen without judgment and without trying to deflect attention from yourself.

3. Go and learn. Follow your curiosity, follow your whims, follow that little voice that wonders what it would be like to be a professional pole vaulter. Those whims are your soul trying to be heard over the voice of your boss and your kids and everyone else. This is important to know - you are much, much more free than you've ever imagined that you are. Make the things in your life a CHOICE. Any of you reading this could head out the door, right now, and walk (drive, roll, crawl) to the nearest ocean. It would be difficult for many, and it would cause some major repercussions for most, but you COULD. And armed with that knowledge, all you need to do is figure out where to draw the line.

And, remember, try and find the joy in the DOING, as much as you'll find the joy in the getting there. The beauty, as always, is in the work.

Time to get started.


  1. Awwww. This is great, Doc. :) I appreciate your emphasis on choice, and on paying attention to what causes anxiety. Paying attention to what other folks say is helpful, too, even though it's deflating when they say, "Um, no, I DON'T think you're cut out to be a big-haired rockstar on the road." It's hard to let go of dreams. ;) Seriously, though, it is hard to let go of unrealistic aspirations, especially when they could provide such a status boost. Seeing what's already awesome within myself usually doesn't seem as glamorous--but it's also amazingly rewarding, rather than self-defeating.


  2. Kate- sometimes the realistic stuff changes. Just keep paying attention. :)

  3. I have many people telling me the things I do well. I find it incredibly difficult to reconcile that many of those things are not things I enjoy. My sister put it very well when she said, It's difficult to explain to someone else's understanding, that you want to stop doing something that you do well, particularly when it is something others long for."
    My response was that it's a bit like explaining why you don't like a certain food. There might not be a just don't.

  4. Daisy - I love comments like this, because they remind me to go a little more in depth when I make these posts. That whole "rewarded for doing what people need from you" is a pretty powerful magnet.