by Deepak Chopra, M.D.: Many people yearn for personal transformation without knowing how to jump-start such a major change in their lives…
They generally waste energy on false starts or take a few steps in the right direction, only to find that old habits and conditioning pull them back to where they began, or very close to that.
What is takes to create a major shift is planning and consciousness. You must be aware of what your goal is and then set down on paper how you intend to get there. The method is the same whether you are aiming for a change in your relationship, career, or inner growth. Consciousness is the moving force behind all life changes, but it can’t help you until you offer a direction.
Here, then, are 10 steps that should be part of your action plan.
Step 1: Be Clear About Your Intention
Everyone’s mind is filled with desires, wishes, dreams, and memories, creating crosscurrents of intention. To be supported in what you want, your intention has to be clear and focused. Don’t think, “I want my life to change.” Be specific and precise: “I want my job situation to improve,” for example, is a little more precise. But focus needs to be even sharper, such as “I want to be appreciated at work by my supervisor.” Or “I want more responsibility and challenge.”
Step 2: Go Inside and Let Your Desire Ripen and Mature
In other words, meditate on your intention. With eyes closed, sitting quietly, get yourself centered. It may help to gently follow your breath for a minute or two. Visualize what you want to achieve. Don’t force the images and don’t fantasize. See the change you desire as clearly as you might see what your house looks like. Be realistic and calm as you see the new situation that you want to unfold.
Step 3: Feel Your Response to Your Intention
As you sit and mediate on your desired change, various feelings and sensations will come to the surface. Not all will be positive. You might feel resistance or discouragement or anxiety. This is good, because only in daydreams does everything look easy and perfect, because you’re in a state of fantasy. By feeling the resistance inside yourself, you are getting closer to a realistic outcome that’s successful.
Step 4: Let Go of Your Intention
To achieve your life change, you will be making many small decisions in the coming days. You can’t predict what these will be. In fact, for most people, looking ahead leads to discouragement. They don’t see a clear path, and unknown obstacles are certain to crop up. To avoid this kind of self-defeatism, don’t try to predict the future or conquer the unknown. Let the path unfold, which means letting go.
Step 5: Deal With Your Resistance
This, too, is a place where many people falter. After seeing how much benefit they’d get from a life change, they find it too difficult to face their inner resistance. By resistance I mean the feelings that say “No” to your intention. These can be rooted in insecurity, past failure, inertia, doubt, anxiety—the list goes on and on. But realistically, everyone has these resistances, including the people who successfully overcame them.
Step 6: Make a Plan to Overcome Obstacles
As daunting as it looks when you consider how much inner resistance you might have, paring it down into workable pieces is the key. Sit down and rationally plan what you need to do and what is actually feasible. I am a strong believer in gathering allies to help with any major life change. Going it alone sounds brave, but it actually isolates you and makes you vulnerable. Find someone you can trust, whether it’s a confidant, spouse, mentor, or therapist. Pick someone who takes your life change as seriously as you do. Meet frequently, and share what’s happening emotionally, because your emotional landscape is bound to change as you undergo any major shift.
Step 7: Pursue Only What’s Feasible
With your ally or allies, make a list in three columns. In these columns you are going to assess what needs to change. Column 1 is about things you can start to fix. Column 2 contains the things you have to put up with—for now. Column 3 contains the things you have to walk away from. Take your time. Go back to your lists repeatedly, until you get a clear view of your situation. Only then should you act.
Step 8: Achieve Something Positive
Success breeds success. Start fixing the small things that you feel more confident about. Don’t tackle huge personal issues in your life. Chop away at them through action you can control. It really helps to find someone who has gotten to the goal you have set for yourself. Asking someone who’s been there is invaluable.
Step 9: See the Project as an Inner Path
Even though you’re taking action, the real change will happen in your own awareness. Walk the path as an inner path; monitor what’s happening inside—a journal is a good idea here. By being self-aware, you give old habits and conditioning less of a chance to pull you backward. And if you do take a step back, note it, forgive yourself, and regroup. No matter what happens in the outside world, no one can take your inner path away from you.
Step 10: Connect with Higher Guidance
Depending on your personal beliefs, you can look to God, your soul, your higher self, your inner source—the terminology doesn’t matter. What you need is a connection with whatever makes you feel trusting and safe. Only with such a connection are major life changes achieved. For me, the path to the core of my being is through meditation, so I recommend it strongly. But it’s up to you to connect with your own core, the place where desires meet fulfillment.
I hope these 10 steps make your life change seem realistic and reachable. You mind, body, and spirit are designed for change. All you need is the self-confidence to know that you can set any goal that matches your highest vision. After that, the unfolding of success is a joint venture between you and yourself.