It’s a new year, and many of us have been considering how we can become more of who we want to be this year.
The best way to do this isn’t by making resolutions or only forming habits. The best way is by developing a deep understanding of who you are and declaring the life you want to create. The more you understand who you are and how you work and the more clear you are on what you’re up to in life, the more growth you’ll experience and the more satisfaction and possibility you’ll create for yourself and others.
Of course, this is easy to talk about and hard to do. So in this guide, I’m going to break down how I look at change and some critical steps to discovering who you are and what you want to create in your life, as well as how you can get started.
If you’d like some help with these BIG questions about life and growth, I invite you to do a Surrender Session with me all about what you want to create this year and in the years to come. I’ve already helped hundreds of people live lives of deeper meaning and satisfaction. And I’d love to help you too.
STEPS TO TRANSFORMING YOUR LIFE
1. Understand Your Essence –
Everyone has an essence. This is who you are at the core. It represents your best qualities and most lasting character traits. My essence is Commitment, Adventure, Brilliance, Integrity, Passion, and Play. Some of these aspects of my essence are obvious to me, others remain hidden from me.
Your essence is sort of like a light you carry around with you, and because it’s always there, you can start to not notice it, even when it’s evident to others. That’s why if you want to know your essence, the best way is to ask those whom you care about.
Use a question like “What comes into a room when I do?” You can also just make an educated guess at your essence and go from there.
2. Understand Your Survival Mechanisms –
Your survival mechanisms are all the things you’ve developed to survive and belong to your family of origin growing up. Let’s say you’re parents were never satisfied. If you got a 96, they’d say, “What happened to those 4 other points?” You didn’t know what perfectionism was, so you just thought this was normal. In response, you formed a way to cope with how your world works. You might develop the survival mechanism of perfectionism. After all, if 100 gets you approval from others, then shooting for 100 makes sense.
You might also develop the survival mechanism of anticipating disappointment. After all, if you have to be with disappointment, you might as well brace for it. Maybe you’ll even be disappointed in yourself, so it hurts less when others are.
You might also reject performing and instead constantly underachieve since it feels like you can never win. The same stimulus can produce various different strategies for survival. What’s important is to understand yours. You can make a list and name the habitual ways you cope with life. Of course, a coach can be SUPER helpful at identifying your survival mechanisms.
3. Accept that you have blindspots –
Over and over again, I meet people who are WAY more capable, powerful, intelligent, talented, and wise than they realize. This is true of almost all of my clients. But they don’t see this about themselves because of their blindspots. Blindspots are simply parts of ourselves and reality we have designed to avoid seeing.
For example, when I have hair, I have a bald spot. I feel self-conscious about my bald spot, and so I often wear a hat. My hat hides the bald spot, from me, and usually from other people. However, let’s say that I wore my hat so often I stopped noticing that I was wearing a hat. I started thinking that’s how my head worked. If you were to take off my hat and tell me I had a bald spot, I’d be super confused.
This is kind of how blindspots work. We hide something from ourselves, often unconsciously, and because we don’t realize it’s hidden, we lose the ability to see it. It’s essential to accept that you have blindspots. Because if you do, you can get help seeing them. If you don’t, then you’re sort of doomed to have them hold you back.
4. Decide what you want to get out of life –
There’s no right way to live life. Some people like to make lots of money, others reject money and seek spirituality, some people want a balanced life that has a little money and a little spirituality. Mostly though we get some script about success from our parents and we sort of stick to it. Mom & Dad told us to get a job and work hard, and that’s what we do. Sometimes this works but often it leaves us wondering what life is all about. This often leads to a sense of intense dread at trying to choose something to do or focus on. Primarily because we think there’s a RIGHT answer.
The good news is there’s no right answer. The bad news is, there’s no right answer. You get to pick. Generally, people are happiest when they do things that 1) Help others 2) Use their talents 3) Allows them to express themselves 4) Limits the amount fo daily suffering they experience 5) Aligns with their values and purpose.
Figuring out what you want to get out of life isn’t a one-shot deal. It’s a process. So a good place to start is with a simple question like: “What do I want people to say about me at my funeral?” which is basically what Steven Covey asks in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Again this is a process you can be helped by working with a coach, but mostly you just need to pick something. You’ll likely change your mind anyway, so just pick something to get started. Even making a lot of money will work in the short term. The point of a “what for?” is to give you some direction and focus. Once you have these two things, then the practice will often reveal something more in-depth.
5. See the space of possibility –
Ok now that you have an end in mind. It’s time to get present to the space between where we are and where we want to be. Mostly the way we relate to space between where we are and where we want to be is from a place of blame and failure. We suck because we’re not rich, handsome, brilliant, philanthropists. You don’t suck because you aren’t those things, but it may be true that you aren’t those things.
If we can see and accept the space, understand what it is, and let go of blaming ourselves for it, then something can open up inside of it: Possibility. In the space of possibility exists the potential for us to become more of who we long to be. But we need to see and be present to the possibility of that space instead of feeling beat up by its existence.
The key to seeing the space is to answer the question: “What’s missing?”
Say, for example, you want to grow your business. You need to start with where you want to grow it to, then notice where it is right now. Then notice the space between the two, and finally, to answer the questions, “what’s missing?” You may not know for sure what’s missing, but you can make some guesses and then go test out what happens when you start to add those things.
6. Practice closing the gap –
Now that you have a sense of what’s missing, you need to get into practice around what’s missing. Most often the things that are missing are 1)Honesty 2)Courage 3)Commitment 4)Structure 5)Feedback
Many leaders I work with first aren’t being honest with themselves and others. They hate their work, team members have let them down, and they avoid dealing with it, the business is declining, and they don’t want to see it. For these leaders, they need to practice honest reflection and a willingness to be vulnerable enough with themselves to admit the truth.
Each common gap has got a set of common practices to help you create the change you need to produce. And that’s usually where your practice can pay off the most.
And just like ALL kinds of practices start with one, notice what works and then tweak as you go. Making sure you’re keeping in mind the first 3 things I mentioned 1) Your essence 2) Your survival mechanisms 3) Your blindspots.
7. Get Supported –
Just like with business stuff, you can’t do this stuff alone. You can make some progress by working on these things by yourself, but you really need to get supported. Humans didn’t build civilization as individuals; we did it as groups. Which is why you need help from others.
Others can encourage you when you stumble, support you when you fall, and see the blind spots you can’t see. Coaching is GREAT for this kind of support, but it’s not the only option. There are also masterminds, professional mentors, and professional friends. All of which can add to the rich tapestry of support, you’ll need to keep improving.
APPLYING THIS TO A YEAR
Ok, I might have given you a lot to chew on, so for now, focus on the next year.
First, write down about what you want to say about this year on DEC 31st.
Next, write down what is missing right now, for you saying that.
Next, write down a plan to get you from A to B. It doesn’t have to be brilliant, just a place to start.
Finally, ask for feedback on your plan.
That’s it, it’s just that simple. Of course, simple doesn’t mean hard, so if you LOVE this, but you feel a bit stuck on one or more of the questions above, hit me up. I’d love to have a conversation with you about how to make 2020 the year of your most profound growth yet.