How many times have you been on the brink of making a change in your life but due to fear of the unknown or being judged by others you decided not to bother?
When you’re on the “brink of change,” you’re in the preparation stage of the behavioral change process. You’ve already admitted that you need to change your attitude and that it’s worth it to do so. Now you need to make a preemptive move to show that you’re serious about changing.
This is when smokers throw out their last pack of cigarettes. Poor time-managers start writing down the steps they need to take to organize their time better. Drug users and alcoholics start disassociating themselves from their dope fiend friends. Gossipers take a vow to mind their own business. Overweight folks apply for a gym membership. Slackers start filling out job applications.
But the preparation stage has a potential weakness: right as you think you’re ready to move forward, fear — the enemy of change — steps in, crippling you. Now you’re at a standstill, over-analyzing your decision to change.
For instance, you might start worrying about how others will perceive you if you change; you want their approval but worry they will judge you. Or right as you’re about to throw your last pack of cigarettes away, you freeze, gazing at the pack, questioning whether you can live without it.
Change involves taking a risk and fear stops you from taking that chance. In the video below, titled “Overcoming Your Fear of Failure,” the speaker Brian Tracy explains how our fear of failure affects us. He states that we physically feel fear through the rapid beating of our hearts and our fear of criticism leads us to believe that we have to perform at a level that is acceptable to others. Take a look:
Now that you’ve seen that fear is your biggest challenge when preparing for change, you can fight it by being secure in who you are as a person and being resolute in your decision to change.
As you get ready for change, be prepared to mean what you say.
If you say you’re going to quit spending so much time online, mean it.
If you say you’re going to stop spending so much money, mean it.
If you say you’re going to step up your production at work, mean it.
If you say you’re going to try to become a more compassionate person, mean it.
If you say you’re going to stop allowing others to take advantage of you, mean it.
If you say you’re going to improve your social life, mean it.
If you say you’re going to stop being so concerned with what others think, mean it.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. When you mean what you say, you immediately shut fear down and become able to move forward. Again, you’ve already admitted that you need to make a change and that it’s worth it to change. So why stop now?
Prepare Your Brain for Change by the Harvard Business Review