Hit the Wall? 4 Steps to Personal Transformation

Wile E Coyote hits rock bottomThe path of personal growth and development is never smooth. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had huge mental and emotional growth spurts, followed by the overwhelming desire to sit in the closet or stare at the TV. ( or play freecell solitaire…)

We are, after all, only human. But according to Psychology Today, the desire to change your life after a traumatic experience is an almost universal phenomenon. As Steve Taylor writes,

I believe it isn’t so much cancer itself which has transformed these women, but encountering their own mortality. Through being told that they were probably going to die soon, they gained a new appreciation of life, a new sense of perspective and connection. They have realised how precious life is, how beautiful the world is, that the future and past are illusions and only the present is real.

But perhaps most importantly, confronting death has had the effect of dissolving their ‘psychological attachments.’ As human beings, it’s normal for us to depend on a lot of external things for our sense of identity and well-being – our status and success, our possessions and wealth, our hopes and ambitions, our appearance, the knowledge we’ve accumulated, and so on. We feel like we’re ‘someone’ because of these ‘attachments.’

So you know you’re on the right path. But what happens when you get off to a great start, but hit a wall? How can you pick yourself up and get going again? We always hear that it’s not how many times to fall, but how many times you get back up. You can look at these 4 steps to get back on the right track:

  • Start where you’re at.

  • Define your goals.

  • Focus positively on what you want.

  • Take personal responsibility for change.

Let’s take a look at each of these.

Start where you’re at.

There is no shortcut here. You must accept where you are in order to make personal changes. The classic example is waiting to lose weight until you buy new clothes. Waiting “until” is just an excuse to put off doing what you know you should do. Learn to forgive yourself for what you think are your own shortcomings, and move on.

Correctly assessing where you are is like making a road map for your success. How can you tell how much more money you should make if you don’t know what shape your finances are in now? Why should you try to be happier if you can’t admit to yourself that you are miserable in your job? And if you’re not sure where you are, just get out of the car and ask for directions!

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.

~Lewis Carroll 

Define your goals.

Goal setting is crucial to getting where you want to go. If you didn’t set goals for yourself, it would be like starting out on a cross-country trip without a road map. Focus your goals, make them definable so you know when you have achieved them. “Run 4 times this week” is a measurable, achievable goal. “Exercise more” is too nebulous and really can’t be measured.

Decide on some goals, then try to laser focus them to make them definable. Set deadlines, and make yourself accountable. Start with small steps while you are developing your goal-setting muscles so you can get used to the process.

 A goal is a dream with a deadline.

 ~Napoleon Hill

Focus positively on what you want.

target fixationIn the motorcycle world, (which I miss terribly!) there is a concept called “target fixation.” It means that if you are looking at that pothole or the cliff at the side of the road, that is where your bike will go.  Instead, you are taught to focus on the road ahead to anticipate where you will go and how to get out of any dangerous situation.

The same is true for personal goals, relationship goals, financial goals. In fact, there’s a great Spanish quote which translates loosely as, “What you resist, persists.”  Take your new positive thinking skills and focus on what you DO want. If you find yourself thinking negatively, try to catch yourself and turn it around into a positive framework. In fact, I did that with this article. Too many sources I found framed this as “it’s a mistake to focus on what you don’t want.” Why not just say, “Focus on what you want”?

Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.

~Willie Nelson

Take personal responsibility for change.

Too many people blame other people or circumstances for their ‘bad luck.’ I think this is just because they feel deep down like they are powerless to effect any change. I’m so sad when I see this, but at the same time some people are just happier when they can complain. It takes all the responsibility off their own shoulders to change what they don’t like about their life.

Once you start to take full responsibility for the outcome of your life, you will train your mind to find the solutions to whatever problems you are facing. After all, with no one else to blame, there is also no one else to stop you from making the changes that you want to make, right?

If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.

~Theodore Roosevelt

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How have you gotten through a road block? What worked for you to get back on the horse? Please comment in the box below or e-mail me – kristi@kristiseehafer.com.

Next time – goal setting in depth.

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Hit the Wall? 4 Steps to Personal Transformation — 2 Comments

  1. The same is true for riding a horse. Look down and that is where you will go. I think accepting that one is powerless over other people, places and things does not mean helpless. Keeping the focus on oneself and not worrying about what other people say or think is key. In 30 years in the financial industry, I have seen many people make the same mistakes over and over, because they are reacting to ideas about money they do not even know they have. Getting “stuck” represents a time to slow down, not speed up. Contemplation, being gentle with yourself and an action plan that may be baby steps has always helped. I think staying in the solution instead of the problem is also helpful. The past is history, the present is opportunity! As the great musician Kevin Moore (Ken Mo) says in a song, when you point one finger away from you, three are pointing at you. ( he says it better). Let the light within you shine on yourself. We are all worthy, we are all human, we can all improve and it helps to know that on our worst day we are still lovable. You mentioned missing motorcycles, I miss riding horses, but the key to the human condition is ADAPT. Can’t run, walk! Fall down 7 times get up 8!
    Great blog Kristi.

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