The 3 Elements of Change

By: Scott Reall

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Do you remember your new year’s resolution? Probably not. In fact, we know that more than 90% of New-Year Resolutions have failed by March.[1] Unless you are part of the 10%, you are probably shrugging your shoulders and thinking, ‘well there’s always next year.’ Lasting change is hard work, and total transformation can feel even more impossible.

The longer I live, the more set in my ways I become and change isn’t always the most welcome experience. It seems like when we’re younger, we embrace change a lot easier – life is full of new opportunities and challenges and we’re excited to be apart of the many new seasons of life. But, with each passing year we become settled into a certain pattern, we get into a comfort-zone and start to resist change.

The sad thing about settling is that we stop growing. We miss opportunities that will challenge us; not stepping into new environments that could change our perspective, skipping out of relationships in a desire to stay “safe.”

Personal growth cannot happen is we don’t embrace the uncomfortableness of change.

I have spent the better part of my adult life trying to help people who know they need to change, but feel stuck and afraid that they will always be this way. We have a saying that we use a lot, ‘when we are stuck in our normality, we fiercely cling to what we know.’ Even if it’s dysfunctional, destructive, or keeps us from growing…we resist change. Most, if not all of the time, the fear of the unknown has us settling for lives so inferior to what we are capable of living.

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So, how is real change going to happen? If we don’t want to be stuck, but year-after-year find ourselves in the 90% of resolution dropouts, what now?

There are 3 mental and emotional shifts that must happen in order to let go of the old, before we can embrace the new.

  1. Vision. Michelangelo said, “I saw the angel in the stone and I carved until I set him free.” We need to always begin the change process with a vision of where we are going and what we are going to become. Vision always creates intrinsic motivation, which creates a clear picture of the possibilities in a new life – all the good that will come from the change. You must see it before it can become a reality. One of the reasons vision is critical is because things will get difficult, and when they do you need a well-drawn map to guide your feet down the path.

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  1. Support. We need others who are walking a similar journey to freedom. In supportive relationships, we not only gain encouragement, but inspiration through each-others successes and struggles. Anytime we’re trying to change something in our lives, it’s very difficult—if not impossible—to do it alone. It’s absolutely critical that you have the necessary support. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, change jobs, re-evaluate a broken relationship, or quit smoking – find a healing community. It could be one or two hand selected friends, a counselor or therapist, or a small group of strangers.
  2. Grief. All change contains loss. To break away from something we have always known, even in the pursuit of something better, we must confront the loss that must be grieved. Saying goodbye is so important as we accept that the normality we have been living in is about to change and will never be the same. Only when you grieve the loss of your old life, are you ready for a new beginning.

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No matter where we are in life, no matter how old we are we need to be stepping into this always-evolving process of change. These steps are not always the most simple, or can be made in a day, but little by little you can re-train your brain to begin a new way of thinking, leading to a new way of living.

[1] Statistic Brain Research Institute

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