The First Step to Changing Your Life

first step

You know you want to change, right?

But you don’t know where to start.

You may find yourself thinking…

  • “There are so many paths I could take and I don’t know how to choose.”
  • “I hardly have enough time to stay sane, let alone…insert your dream here…where can I possibly start?”
  • “I know I’m not happy here, but I don’t know what will make me happy”

If so, I know how you feel. I’ve been there.

Obese, full of illness, working in a corporate job that left me cold, half of a failing marriage…I’ve been faced with the desire to change, yet the sheer terror of feeling out of control and not knowing where to place my feet first.

I knew I could be and do so much more but I just didn’t know where to start.

Yet now my life is unrecognisable from what it was back then. I’ve lost half my body weight and kept it off, transformed my health, quit the corporate world and set up my own business, lived abroad in the country I used to dream of and found a partner who supports me to be real me.

I’ve learned, through my previous procrastination, frustration and pain that the first step to changing your life is acknowledging and accepting where you are right now.

Putting your head in the sand just doesn’t cut it when it comes to change. When you begin to face and accept where you are in life, you are gifting yourself the cool, clear power to do something about it.

I’m not saying it’s easy. In fact acknowledging and accepting where you are right now is a really scary thing to do – because you have to look at your pain; you have to admit what you don’t like. And that’s going to hurt.

Throughout my teenage years I was hugely overweight. I didn’t want to be that way. Taunted daily, I hated looking in the mirror, but all manner of diets didn’t help. The kilos didn’t shift until I looked at where I was – a 20 year old girl who weighed in at 280 pounds – without distractions, without the ‘yes, but…’s, without the ‘poor me’. I needed to consciously acknowledge what a state I was in. That make me realise just how much I ached to change and that I was the only one who could do it. I started to take small steps; small steps that led to me losing over 140 pounds.

Acknowledging that I was unhappy in my job with Microsoft caused more of an internal fight because there were real benefits to staying where I was; I had prestigious role I could excel at with ease and a great salary. But every morning, when I beeped myself into the air-conditioned campus building, I felt dead inside. Yet I stuck at it for 4 years, unable to do anything until I did an honest stock-take of where I was and came to terms with the fact that if I didn’t do something, I’d be on this career path, hating myself for it, for the rest of my working days.

Leaving my marriage, to a loyal, honest, stable man was a long time in the making too. Distractions stopped me seeing quite how unhappy I was: Maybe if I watch tv/go out a lot/drink copious amounts of wine/buy myself nice things I won’t have to face it. Recognise that? It was cutting back on the nights out and emotion-numbing substances that helped me get to a point where I could look clearly at the situation and accept that, despite the beautiful white wedding, despite the fact that we had a joint life, house and friends I no longer wanted to be where I was.

You won’t be able to take sustainable steps towards change until you look plainly at where you are and breath it deeply in – knowing that your choices got you to this point and that if you are unhappy then you are the one who needs to make the change.

So, how can you do this?

Step for a moment out of your every day life and give yourself some reflection time. Cut the distractions – turn the tv off, close the fridge door. Allow yourself to just ‘be’ where you are, with your life right now– however it looks.

It helps to divide where you are into distinct areas. I find the categories health, work, money, relationships, lifestyle, state of mind, environment and passions helpful.

Think about how you feel about each of these facets of your life. If you were going to score them out of 10, what would they be? What adjective would you use to describe them? How does that make you feel?

Be wary of being drawn into the stories behind your situation. Leave the martyr attitude that we can all play outside the room, with no ‘yes, but..’s or blame.

What we want here is honest, clear, conscious acknowledgement and acceptance.

You’ll find that acknowledging and accepting where you are right now is the way to start a conscious process of sustainable change. Because when we look at something we don’t like and really understand it, change is naturally the next step. Then it’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and, like me, before you know it, you’ll have transformed your world.

Photo by Juli__a

first step

Recommended Resources

Looking for more ideas and inspiration? The following are some of our favorite resources:

Audible - audiobooks are a great way to listen to books while commuting, working out, cooking, or doing any other activity. Click here to try Audible free and choose any title from the world’s largest audiobook library.

Best Books to Change Life – recommended books on everything related to personal change and growth. The selection is a mix of time-tested classics and more recent bestsellers. Click here to see our Recommended Reading list.

Online-Therapy.com - online therapy offers effective, confidential, and convenient access to a licensed therapist at a relatively low cost when compared to traditional face-to-face services. Click here to try Online Therapy.


11 thoughts on “The First Step to Changing Your Life”

  1. Hans Schoendorfer

    Alison

    You wrote: “Be wary of being drawn into the stories behind your situation”

    I agree to a point. It was not until I recognized the control my mother exerted on my life, particularly early life, that I identified what triggered my recurring depression. I learned to be compliant and my adaptation was then projected into resolving almost all my life interactions. It was not until identifying my early life history that I was able to re-decide and begin to unfreeze my emotions. It was the acknowledgement, not the blame, of my mothers influence that finally freed me.

    1. “It was the acknowledgement, not the blame, of my mothers influence that finally freed me.” Totally agree with you, Hans. Acknowledging and understanding where your inner stories come from is vital for freedom. What I don’t think it useful is getting drawn into blame, or living your life under their shadow, feeling like you cannot be free.

  2. People that feel like they are stumbling through their life usually keep their eyes closed to who they are and what they are doing.

    It takes courage to acknowledge your weaknesses.

    I feel liberated every time that I realize my failings and take action to change what I am doing that get in my own way.

    Thanks for the reminder, Alison.

  3. Alison,
    Thank you for sharing your courage and wisdom.

    It is so easy to sleep walk through life even if we hate it. I have been there. To stop and take a good look at where we are and to separate it from the story we create, takes determination and courage.

    I stop often and take stock of where I am and how I am feeling, so that I can selection another action and refocus.

  4. I find that time away does me good. Time away from my kids (though I love em dearly), time away from my phone and other technological distractions and time away from people. Just to BE for a while. It has a way of rearranging my mind and all the clutter to peace and focus.

  5. Alison I would first like to say lovely blog. This is the first time I have visited thechangeblog and other then the excellent name I think the content here provides so much value and motivation to change I recently have been started to change after reading Maximum Achievement By Brian Tracey. It took me a whole month to read as this was the first book which I had ever decided to read and before reading it I always presumed that I was not much of a reader I am proud to say I am reading my second book now with 2 other books pending. The reading help me improve myself so much so that I quit smoking as well as a few other bad habits I had carried from my early college days.

    Now reading self help books and blogs is mostly what my day comprises off

  6. You hit the nail on the head – *Acknowledgement* is the first step.

    I know alcoholics who have never acknowledged that they have a problem with drink. They will have a problem until they make that acknowledgement.

    I had problems in my own life, including relationship, mental health and job problems. It took a long time for me to acknowledge any of those problems because I never sat down to actually think things through.

    Most people never take the time to analyse where they are in life.

  7. Brilliant post. Like with everything, realizing that something is possible is the first and often the hardest step. I remember when I first actually realized that I actually can do anything, II literally felt like someone filled my head with rainbows.

    I like your way of writing. I’ve written on the same topic (http://bit.ly/1nEZe5m) so I agree that the way you see the world – whether as a hopeless place or one full of possibilities – determines how your life develops.

  8. Hi Alison,
    Thank you for your encouraging post. I too think that regular, honest introspection is very important to self-growth. I’ve entered a beginning phase of a couple major changes. The first and foremost priority target is to improve my health. I will lose over 120 lbs., when the goal is reached. I’m curious though, I’ve had to learn to quickly recognize the ways by subconscious (assuming) is trying to “suck” me back into a comfort zone. My brain gives me all kinds of reasons why I need a quick “small” sweet to get me of this “small, temporary” hump, because my blood sugar is low, and of course I don’t want to binge. Never mind the idea I could use a healthy alternative. Ha-ha!

    Also, I find myself feeling “sad” because I miss my unhealthier routines. I’m starting to understand now why some people go back to physically abusive spouses, even when they were almost killed the last beating.

    What are your thoughts on that, do you find your mind pulling at you to stay in the rut, so to speak, when you made changes?

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