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What Top Leaders Know About Change That'll Skyrocket Your Life

Most of us are familiar with the stages of grief theory, but did you know that when you make a change you will be going through a similar process? Top Thought + Business Leaders embrace change as a positive act and know some incredible things happen once you understand the process. Getting to grips with this model will help you realize if someone is resistant to change and why. Perhaps someone is encouraging you to do something but you’re in the pre – contemplation stage and change doesn’t seem like something you want or need. That’s ok, just check out the definitions below and see where you may be at currently.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.
— Winston Churchill

Pre-Contemplation

Aint nothing wrong with me, you’re crazy!”

If you’re in the pre-contemplation stage you may not even know it. You may have someone nagging you telling you that you need to make a change in your life but you just can’t see it. In fact they need to make a change in their life and stop hassling you! It’s absolutely fine to be in this stage, and if you know someone who is in this stage you can’t force them to take action. If changing the “problem” is a priority for them they will make a move when they are ready.

Successful CEOs typically embark on their own personal transformation journey. Their actions encourage employees to support and practice the new types of behavior.
— McKinsey + Company

Contemplation

“I don’t like feeling like this but I’m not ready to change”

This is the stage where you will recognize there is something going on in your life that doesn’t have a positive impact but you’re not ready to make any definitive actions or plans. You may say “I hate the fact that I smoke, next year I may give up”, knowing that next year/tomorrow may never come. 

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
— Leo Tolstoy

Preparation

“I have been looking into some programs that could take me to Awesomeville”

You still need convincing, you’re not 100% on board, but you’re getting there. You have done some research, you have seen some solutions that speak to you. You haven’t taken that leap to commit….yet.  You may be talking about it with your friends and family, or this could be a private process. It’s scary to move from stage to stage and moving into the next stage is a big jump because it will mean you’re doing it, for real! 

Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

— Barack Obama

Action

“I just signed up for an 8 week course! Check my badass self out!”

You took the leap! In this stage people modify their behavior and make changes in their life. It could be physical or emotional changes, or even both. This stage is the most visible to others because action if happening. This stage is one of my favourite.

The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.
— Friedrich Nietzsche

Maintenance

“Woah, look at me, I go to the gym 3 times a week, every week”

Change doesn’t end with action because the juicy bit is when you’re able to maintain that change. That’s where the magic happens. You could move from action back to contemplation or even pre-contemplation and that’s ok! When we move back a stage it is a fantastic learning experience for us and we are able to work out what we could do differently next time. “Last time round when I quit smoking I still hung out with my smoker friends at break time, that’s what broke my resolve. This time round I will be spending my breaks away from the smokers”.

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.

— Rumi

Termination/Graduation

“It’s such a natural habit for me to not smoke; it’s not such a struggle anymore.”

This is the golden spot to be! Brushing your teeth is a chore, but you do it on a consistent basis, so much so you don’t even really think about it. You don’t think “I’m not going to brush my teeth this week, I’ll start up again next week when I have less stuff going on at work”. It’s such a natural habit that external factors in your life rarely have any influence on whether it’s going to happen or not. Imagine that, developing a habit that you hardly put any mental effort into?! It can be done!

Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.
— Maya Angelou

Relapse

“I couldn’t keep it up, it was too much effort”

Relapse happens and that’s ok, again it’s a learning experience. Conditions weren’t right first time round for you to get into the termination/graduation stage. Some people who relapse can move into a place where their desire for change leaves them. It could also make you stronger and more determined for change. How you react to relapse is up to you! You could say that “I’m not  meant to change, I’ll always be this person who doesn’t take action, I can’t do it.” OR you could say “What was I feeling, how was the process working and not working, what was difficult for me, what was a trigger for me to relapse?”. Then try again.

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
— Mother Teresa
Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything.

— George Bernard Shaw