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I write about change and change management because I love it. Testing assumptions and considering new perspectives is an activity that touches a pleasure centre in my brain (and yes, I do own up to the geek-ness of that phrase). Even when new information means scrapping plans and starting over, it feels good to know our adjusted path will take us even closer to the goal. I not only love change, I seek it out. If things remain static for too long you’ll see me moving the furniture around.

All that said, I can still be made uncomfortable by change

It takes a lot to make me wince – and it’s only happened twice that I can remember. You won’t see me struggle with an unexpected new boss or a sudden increase in expected output (here’s a tip: if you see your boss reading “Double Your Profits in 60 Days” buckle your seatbelt). I can handle moving to a new city to take on career challenges. I learned a second language as an adult and then intentionally got myself a job in a place where English wasn’t spoken (I could write for days about the lessons I learned from making some very unfortunate pronunciation errors). And I’ve successfully navigated many years of corporate course corrections (a nice term for flavour-of-the-day management fads). None of those were particularly daunting. I’m talking about a different kind of change. The kind that skips over skills and abilities and digs right down to the values level — to who you are as a person and how you show up.

I’m talking about serious reexamine-who-you-want-to-be kinds of changes.

I see these playing out in three distinct stages:

  • Developing awareness of the gap
  • Consciously deciding what to do with that awareness
  • Activating the decision

Developing Awareness
When we first become aware of a gap, we may not have a sense of the depth or breadth. It can start out as an intuitive feeling that something’s missing or odd. Stay with the feeling long enough to truly examine what’s behind it and you may find yourself peeling an onion. The deeper you go, the more layers become visible. Talking to others to gain multiple viewpoints almost always helps to round out understanding and perspective.

Deciding
Knowing there is a gap is not enough. Now you have to decide what to do with it. You have choices. You can choose to make no change, or make some adjustments, or ask others to adjust instead. You may elect to take it on fully as a personal and professional developmental challenge. This is your pivot point. What you do next will impact you and those around you.

Activating
A simple gap analysis – declaring where you are in comparison to where you’ve decided you want to be – will reveal the steps required to achieve the new goal. Write it down on paper. Draw a picture if you’re a visual thinker. Now just do it. Don’t wait for it to be perfect. If you need an accountability partner, say your goals out loud to someone. Do whatever it takes to activate your plan. Get yourself over the hump of that very first action and you will find that each next step will be successively easier than the one before.

I’d love to hear from others who have consciously undertaken a personal change process. What was true for you? Or maybe you’re looking for an accountability partner. Add your voice to this post by leaving a comment.

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