100% ready for a scary change in your life but freaking out 100%? I’ve been there.
Big changes in your life that you want, are ready for, and are excited about – can still be super scary.
There are a number of reasons for this and there are a number of things you can do to ease the transition.
In this post, I have gathered my top 4 tips that have helped me take big scary leaps into the unknown.
1. Accept change is scary
A change in one area in your life can send ripples (or even tidal wives) through the foundations of how you understand yourself in the world.
To illustrate this point, let’s consider the six logical levels of change – used by neuro-linguistic programming practitioners. This proposes the following hierarchy of personal change.
- Purpose and spirituality
- Beliefs and values
- Capabilities and skills
These elements are intertwined and a change in one level may result in an adjustment in others.
So, if you are embarking on a change in your behavior – like quitting your job, you may feel ripples through how you perceive your purpose, values, beliefs, identity, competency and environment.
This change just could rock (your perception) of the world. This is scary by anyone’s standards. But that’s okay. Accept this is part of the journey and look forward to the positive changes that will no doubt come.
2. Understand that scary changes stress your brain out
Your brain is not into change. Scary or otherwise.
Cognitive dissonance is the theory that describes your brain’s quest to maintain the status quo of your attitudes and behaviors (cognitive consistency). A disruption to this state causes brain chaos (cognitive dissonance). This can result in anxiety and stress.
According to a Harvard professor of psychiatry, change, even when positive, creates cognitive dissonance. The main reason for this is uncertainty. This can drive you to retreat to old habits. And, due to your biological impulses, defaults your brain into negative bias. (Glass half empty anyone?)
So, if that voice in your head is telling you to abort your new life mission, ignore. That grey little guy is not excited to co-pilot on this one.
3. Have a scary life change plan
Having a plan in place for your scary changes is your greatest defense against uncertainty (and your stressed-out brain).
The more of your journey you can plan the smoother the transition may be. Make sure you consider planning for the following areas.
- Plan of action: Plan the steps you are going to take on this journey. The more detailed the better. If you are having trouble, visualise your end goal and work backward to break down the steps to get there.
- Contingency plan: Scrutinise the road ahead for any potential bumps. And then create a plan for them too.
- Plan for your assets and resources: Make sure you understand what resources are needed to bring your plan to fruition and get them ready. This could include $$, skills, knowledge, contacts, etc.
- Plan for your definition of success: To ensure this journey is personally fulfilling – make sure your plan strives for your personal definition of success. This should align with your ideals of value, meaning, and purpose.
4. Think less “scary changes” and more “awesome changes”
Make sure you don’t let the scariness turn into doubt and negatively.
Embracing a positive mindset can help deal with your scary thoughts. Below are a few tips.
- Remember the glass is half full: It is important to notice when you are slipping into negative thoughts and emotions. Use this self-awareness to reframe these thoughts positively. (eg. don’t think of the unknown as scary – think of it as an exciting opportunity!) If you need a hand stopping your negatively check out this post.
- Visualise the outcome: Research has shown that visualising your goals can support you to achieve them. So, take the time to visualise your dream goal journey to improve your chances and your mindset.
- Build a pros and cons list: A solid pros and cons list will help you prepare for change, as well as, creating an inspiration tool to refer to later.
- Know the “why”: The key to great goals is for them to be grounded in the understanding of “why” they are important to you. Referring back to this, when things are tough, will remind you why it is worth it.
Now you are ready to rock some scary changes
So – go forth and good luck!
I can think of a bunch of cliches that I could write here to send you on your way…
But, I think the one thing that you really need to know is: You can do it.