I was thinking recently about the process of lifestyle renovation. For many years, when one heard about ‘lifestyle change’ or ‘turning over a new leaf,’ the town rumour was that the person in question was a problem drinker or had given up some unsavoury activity. I thought, when I was growing up, turning over new leaves was something only people who did bad things needed to do!
These days, the buzzwords in vogue are all about lifestyle change, life renovation, renewal, rejuvenation, or restyling. Upscaling, downsizing, going green, vegan, bohemian, or organic. All of which make sense in the right context. There is a commonality underlying these concepts, and it’s not new. Leaving aside possible issues with political correctness and the gender police, Coco Chanel hinted at this when she made her famous observation. There are stages of change and a significant action is evidence of a decision. Evidently, a woman cutting her hair qualifies as “significant.”
We humans tend to follow an identified, and much researched pattern when considering making a big change in our lives or circumstances. The Stages of Change are Precontemplative (not ready) Contemplative (getting ready) Preparation (ready) Action, and Maintenance. This process seems to be true particularly when the change is perceived as difficult. Most often, the impetus to shift from “not ready” to “ready” is a deadline or crisis of some sort.
The majority of the world lives on autopilot, following those routines which require the least amount of cognitive investment allowing us to mentally live somewhere else while we go through the motions of existing. Why do you think Red Bull Sports is so popular? We park on the sofa, turn on the TV, and mentally go elsewhere, vicariously living an adrenalin-filled life.
So the point of this post is this… where are you stuck in life? When do you wish things different? When do you contemplate what it might like if _________ happened? Or stopped happening? Using the model of the Stages of Change, where are you with relation to that issue? If you’re in the Precontemplative stage (not ready), what would it take to move you along to getting ready (Contemplative)? To taking action?
Sometimes, all we actually need to do is sit down for 10 minutes and really look at the thoughts we usually brush aside; Those wishes, unexpressed yearnings, and raw spots of dissatisfaction in our inner landscape. Asking questions about those thoughts – ‘Do I really want to hike to Macchu Pichu?’ ‘Why am I wishing for ________?’ ~ and then taking the time to figure out the answers. This is, by itself, action which can move us past the stuck place.
With apologies to Coco Chanel, it isn’t necessary to cut your hair to signal a change. Just get on with it.
If you’re inclined that way, there’s a helpful app available on iOS and Android called “Unstuck.” It’s free and the Unstuck peeps maintain a groovy website. More good stuff on the Stages of Change here