I believe you want to change for the better. I can help you with that. I am currently posting a series on how people change to help you understand how you can begin feeling more in control of every area of your life and reach the good things you desire for yourself and others. Today’s focus is on stage 2: contemplation.
The second stage of the change process is called contemplation. Again, every single person on the planet is contemplative about something in life. This series is not meant to be judgemental or simply categorize you and put you in a box. The purpose is to help you become more self aware and understand where you are in certain areas of life where you are currently frustrated. It can be so liberating to begin understanding where you are and what you can do about it instead of simply feeling stuck.
Contemplation stage is all about beginning to think about what change might look like in an area of your life. If you remember, precontemplative people often are very frustrated with themselves, can be defensive, and discouraged with very little hope for change. Contemplative people often experience procrastination. There is a good reason for this. If you are contemplative about something you desire change and, at times, believe that change is possible, but you also slip back into frustration often. This stage is all about moving back and forth between hope and frustration or between thinking about how good change could be and how maybe sticking to what you already are doing may be more comfortable. This is a really important place to be because you are trying to figure out if change would actually be better.
Here’s a quick example. Maybe you want to lose some weight or a lot of weight and you believe it would be so much healthier and you would feel so much better to lose the weight. Just because you believe it would be better does not mean you will actually make all the lifestyle changes necessary to lose the weight. A major problem is that you have certain patterns that are comfortable and comforting. Maybe you have experienced abuse in the past and are comforted by the fact that less people look at you as a sexual being. Maybe eating is a way you deal with stress in your life and food is more comfortable than ‘feeling stressed’. Or maybe spending hours or days or even weeks in front of a TV or computer is more comfortable than spending time with people if you are terrified of people in general and what they might say to you or the way they might interact with you. Another possibility is that you have simply become comfortable with eating out a lot more and enjoy great food and you may not like cooking. Remember, the key to being stuck in contemplation is that you are emotionally connected to what you are used to in some way and it is uncomfortable to change.
So, how do you work through this part of changing a behavior? You need to begin attaching comfortable, or even exciting emotions, with the new life you want to live. As an example, if you are getting married in 6 months I’m willing to guarantee that you will find it easier to lose weight. Why? Because you can easily imagine what feeling good in your wedding dress is like. The more you focus on how you will FEEL in that dress, the easier it will be to wake up earlier and exercise or take extra time to make a salad instead of eating Raunchy Ronnie’s. Use your imagination in this stage! If you want more money, imagine yourself enjoying that money. If you want a new job, imagine yourself doing it and feeling great. If you want a different relationship, spend time with others who have that kind of relationship and put yourself in the place of those people. The more you use your imagination in a vivid and detailed way, the more you will influence yourself to make changes in the direction you desire to go.
Another fundamental decision you need to make in this stage of change is that you need to begin spending time with people who are encouraging and also more successful in this area than you are. Start spending time with people in an exercise club or running club if you want to lose weight. As you make friends and simply spend time with these people, they will influence you. You will begin thinking a little more like them all the time! You may have heard it said that you will make the average income of the 5 people you spend the most time with. It may be time to make some new friends.
The first person I paid to be my mentor was someone who I wanted to be like. He was encouraging and upbeat and also worked hard in the area I wanted to grow in. The way I thought about it was: I don’t have any friends doing what I want to do, so I’m going to pay this guy to be my friend for a year. The financial cost was really high… it pushed me outside my comfort zone because I didn’t have the money in my bank account at the time. What helped me finally make the decision was that I thought about what would change in my life if I didn’t hire this man and realized nothing in my life would change. I made the decision to move forward and you know what? I ended up coming up with the money because I made the decision and found ways to make it work. I’m happy to say that this first paid mentor is now a great friend that I communicate with more than any other adult (other than my wife). He still influences me greatly and I’m so grateful I made that one decision to do something I was scared of because I knew I needed to.
I often am told by the client I coach and mentor that they are so grateful they made the decision to start coaching even though they didn’t know exactly what would happen because they are now influenced more by me than a lot of the negative people around them. Think about this for a second: If all the people around you are negative and the major influence you have is from TV advertisements about beautiful successful people who are very different than you… how will you begin to hope for a better life? I encourage you to make a decision today to begin using your imagination to envision a better life with better people around you. The more you are willing to invest in yourself, the better your life will be because of it.