Over the past year or so, I have been focusing on inner change: envisioning what I want to be and making that reality. This has mostly been a subconscious process, and progress has been incremental but real.
It’s important to elevate the subconscious to the conscious so we can understand what is working and possibly re-create it. I feel like my efforts to change myself have been successful, so now I am turning my attention to the world around me. How can I effect change–real change–in my world?
What kind of change am I talking about? On a personal level, I mean becoming the person I want to be, doing what makes me feel passionate and engaged, and enhancing my core well being. At an external level, I want to strengthen community, increase openness and connection, do good work, and contribute to progress. It sounds like a lot, but I believe it is possible. In fact, I can already see it happening around me.
Here is the process I followed. I have to stress that this is not a system where you go through steps 1, 2, 3 and voila! Change has occurred. It’s a much more organic, intuitive process than that, and as I said before, a lot of it happens under the surface, so it can be hard to recognize change as it is occurring. Also this process is cyclical, not linear; once you get to the end, you loop around to the beginning again, and so you are constantly spiraling in on the change you want to effect.
It all starts with Leadership — we are all leaders. Leadership means making up your mind that you want change and commit to it. You may not even know exactly what the change is yet. The important thing is to be open to it, because otherwise you will throw up obstacles and make excuses for why the change cannot happen.
Then comes Vision. Again, you may not know exactly what it is that you want. But it is important to have a vision of how you want the change to look and feel, in yourself or in the world. Often we don’t allow ourselves to want positive change, because it may feel selfish or greedy. By creating a vision of the change we want, we can accept our wants and thus move closer to making them reality.
Next, engage with the Community. These are the people in your life: your family, friends, colleagues, support network. Talk about change and what you want with your community. Change is often subtle; discussing it with your community helps make you aware that the change is actually happening. It makes it real. Engaging with your community also opens up opportunities for feedback and support. You may be surprised by how many people join with you in working toward your vision.
Now is the time for Integration. Even though this seems to be the “action” step, it is likely that you have been acting all along. By integrating the changes you want into your everyday routines and the flow of your day, though, you make yourself aware of change as it is happening. Each day, remind yourself of your wants and how you are acting to make them a reality. Consciousness also helps you stay flexible and adaptable. If your routine is disrupted or the unexpected happens, you can consciously adapt to that and keep working toward your overall goal.
As I said before, this process is a cycle. After Integration, returning to Leadership, then Vision, then Community helps maintain focus and build on what you achieved before. Of course, the point is not the end result necessarily, but the journey. As long as we are alive, we don’t stop changing. By becoming aware of the process and taking charge of it, we don’t have to be at the mercy of what happens to us. We can become the agents of change in our own lives and in the world.
I found this article helpful: 10 Life Lessons You Should Unlearn. Those subconscious behavioral patterns that have been ingrained in us since childhood are often are biggest roadblocks to real and lasting change. The best advice from this article: play hard, don’t work hard. We are designed to learn through play, and the bonus is that we get to have fun, too.