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The Structure of Personal Change

Personal change starts internally with a shift in mindset. The resulting external changes grow from this internal foundation. So now that you know where to start, how do you go about making these adjustments in your approach to life?

To really achieve personal transformation, several major stages must be crossed. Now, this doesn’t mean that change must always take place slowly, only that all significant shifts will follow this sequence, regardless of how long the process takes.

The 6 Stages of Personal Transformation

1. Awareness. Nothing will change until you’re aware that something needs to shift. This stage can occur over time. Perhaps you become aware of some nagging feeling that things aren’t as good as you’d like them to be. Maybe you notice a long held belief that no longer serves you.

* This stage could also happen suddenly. If you recently suffered a heart attack, you’re probably very aware of necessary dietary or lifestyle changes.

* Also, keep tabs on your negative emotions. They’re often your subconscious attempting to provide you with awareness of needed changes.

2. Examination. After becoming conscious that something isn’t quite right, some thought needs to take place. You might start by asking yourself these questions: “What’s wrong? Why do I feel this way? What needs to change? Does anything really need to change? Can I live with this the way it is?”

3. Intention. If the process passes the examination phase, we then may enter into intentionality. A decision has been made to change and the intention is there to remove a belief or behavior and replace it with a more appropriate alternative.

* In many ways, this is the most powerful step. At this point you’ve truly decided to change and to replace something old with something new. With enough intention, nearly anything is possible.

4. Action. However, only with action do you actually begin to experience change. At this point, you’ve already come a long way. You’ve taken what may have started as a dull sense of discomfort and given it a name and a face.

* You might even feel more uncomfortable now than you did in Step 1; now you’re more aware of what’s going on. If you’re feeling helpless about a situation, bear in mind that this is frequently the result of reaching Stage 4 but then failing to take any action.

5. Improvement. As you discover what works for you, your initial actions may be inadequate or incorrect. When changing yourself, a fine-tuning process occurs until a sufficient solution is found. This is largely trial and error. You simply keep making adjustments to your approach until you hit on an effective solution.

6. Integration. This stage may take some time; new habits can require some effort before they take hold. At the completion of this step, you’ve fully adopted the new belief or behavior. The initial discomfort that started the whole process should be gone now, since the cause of that uneasiness has been alleviated.

Having a fundamental awareness of these steps will help you go from experiencing emotional discomfort to feeling whole and satisfied. The next time you get a nagging feeling that something isn’t right, take the time to examine your emotions. Do this every time you feel something negative, and you’ll grow into the person you always dreamed of being.

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