• Tori

The Most Important Step in Self-Improvement

Why you need to start from the very beginning!

There comes a time in everyone’s life where you realise you want something more. That you are destined for greater freedom, higher love, more money, whatever it is that sets your soul on fire.

So, you turn to the wide world of self-improvement.

A quick search and your screen is filled with personal development articles, bombarding you with the tips and tricks you need to revolutionise your life, your sense of self, your relationships with your inner child and everyone else around you.

But chances are these articles have missed the most important step.

Your starting place.

Exactly where you are right now.

Over the past few years, I’ve been on a long journey of personal growth, confidence and self-empowerment which has taken me all around the world. This has opened up endless opportunities and enabled me to start my very own business. This journey has led me to become the self-employed, digital nomad and freedom seeker I’ve always dreamed of being.

But, it didn’t just happen.

In fact, I sat in a stage of pre-contemplation and contemplation for at least a year before I was physically, emotionally and financially ready to take my first step towards my big goals and the life of my dreams. Without this first pre-stage or warm up to my journey I can almost guarantee I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Behavioural psychologists have found when it comes to making a change there are six mindset stages, ranging from initial pre-contemplation through to termination. The Transtheoretical Model of Change (TTM), illustrates change as cyclical, rather than a linear process, demonstrating the evolution of human readiness for change.

Starting at the beginning, pre-contemplation is the initial spark or interest in an idea for change or growth. There’s no predicting when this spark may appear, but chances are you’ve felt this lightbulb (or even just a niggle) of inspiration to try something new, make a change or simply be better in an element (or several) of your life.

For me, this spark was a slow burn of several dreams which after many years of exploring finally came together.

It all started with travel. Several years ago now, I knew I wanted to travel the world, but working in a corporate 9–5 job with only three weeks leave per year, this was not a realistic option. Yet.

For almost a year I sat with this desire, in a pre-contemplation and then contemplation stage of change. During this time, my mindset was stuck in denial. I wasn’t ready to accept the power I held over my reality and I felt limited by my perceived responsibilities to earn money and climb the corporate ladder.

I wasn’t ready to grow, because I couldn’t accept or believe that there was something better to grow into. Ultimately, it wasn’t until I fully acknowledged my immediate circumstances, that change could happen. I needed to believe that there were endless ways to make an income and that there were many different ways to pursue a professional career. I needed to believe that travelling the world could be more than just an expensive holiday.

However, once I came to accept and acknowledge these facts, things started to change, and fast. Through gathering information, speaking with like-minded people and growing my savings, gradually, my mindset changed from “I can’t quit my job” to “I could quit my job” and then to “I can and I will quit my job!”

Only then was I ready for real change.

The next time you find yourself with a burning desire for change, for growth or improvement, before you impulse buy that one-way ticket to Greece or sign those mortgage documents, I encourage you to take a few moments, an hour at most, to sit with a pen and paper and think about the following…

Reflect on Where You Are Now

Take inventory of your life right now. What does your everyday routine look like? What are your pressure points? What parts do you like? What parts do you not like?

Try for a minute to forget any expectations or external pressures. Consider what your life means to you (and only you) right at this moment.

If you’re on the fence, create a pro’s and con’s list, dot point the best parts of your every day and the worst.

Just think about your reality and reflect on the who, what, where and why of your life.

Acknowledge the Need For Change

Once you’ve figured out where you’re at, consider if you need to make a change? Maybe things aren’t so bad after all and you can just tweak that one part of your morning routine that stresses you out and hello happiness.

But, if you are genuinely unhappy, acknowledge that you need to make a change, for yourself (and not for anyone else!)

Excuse the cliches, but you only get one life, and in the words of Oprah Winfrey, you owe it to yourself to become everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

Commit to Making a Change

Time to get serious. You know you’re unhappy, unsatisfied, capable of so much more. Remind yourself that you (and only you) are capable of making this change. Make a solid, unwavering commitment to yourself that your journey to change starts now. Shift your mindset from “I could…do XYZ” to “I will… do XYZ.

Maybe you can start right then and there, or maybe next week, next month or next year. The logistics don’t matter yet, all that matters is you know where you are and you know that you need to change and you are making a commitment to this growth, development and improvement.

Congratulations you’ve taken the first step!

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