“Not around, but through.” Carl Jung
Time management tips can be used as tools to transform your life when the going gets tough. Do you see people around you struggle unsuccessfully? Their efforts may fall short because their understanding of how to weather the storms is incomplete. The secret to meeting profound challenges is embarking upon a journey within. This article explores how to utilize the essential first step of Professor James Prochaska’s 6-stage change management model to initiate this voyage.
Developed in 1997 to support people in overhauling their lives, stage #1 of this system grapples directly with the confusion and ambivalence that accompany the early stages of real change.
Emerging through the Pre-contemplation Stage
It is human nature to plan and act in rhythms and patterns. As change disrupts rhythms, you may feel painfully wrenched from a life you valued. Yet that very discomfort serves as your catalyst to lasting change. Deep down inside, you know that things will never be the same. Any comfort you hope to regain lies on the other side of struggle.
Here is your first step to navigate difficult times:
You must create space to consistently encounter uncomfortable feelings.
This may feel like the very last thing you want to do. And that is precisely why it must be the very first thing! Support yourself by scheduling a feeling and processing period into your day. You can reassure yourself that the more consistently you incorporate a time to “let it hang out”, the less it will leak out at the wrong time.
Because your old coping mode can’t deal effectively with new challenges, you may be beset by a host of painful sensations. Perhaps you feel inadequate and vulnerable. You may blame others. Loss spurs anger. If untended, healthy anger can spiral into incapacitating depression. Don’t allow this to happen!
Rather than bottle up these feelings, find a safe way to express them and review them with compassion. You can write them down or explore them with a trusted friend or mentor. A support group might help dispel a sense of isolation. When you objectively view your “hot” feelings over time, the distortions lessen. Insights emerge. Only through understanding your unique response to your loss can you develop the overview necessary to perceive the path ahead. You come to accept that you are experiencing a natural response to losing something important to you. It will evolve. Affirming this creates inner space, alleviating some of the discomfort. This prevents you from making rash decisions to “escape” this stage before you have learned its lessons.
Initially, you may have no idea how your own time choices must change to become more effective. But as you relax, your alertness increases. By accepting that even profound challenges and losses are a part of life, you mobilize yourself to analyze your time choices, so you can align them with your values as well as the situation you now face.
Create an affirmation to carry as a talisman through this first stage. Gather inspirational accounts of others who have survived and thrived through difficult transitions. Focus on your power to make a series of constructive, short-term time choices that will move you forward, one step at a time. Because the ground is unfamiliar, remain on the lookout for pitfalls, as well as opportunities to get your bearings. Regularly record and review what you are discovering, to make full use of this significant time. When the going gets tough, affirm that:
- Discomfort serves as an essential catalyst.
- All change requires moving beyond one’s comfort zone.
- Compassion and responsibility go hand in hand.
- Gratitude can help broaden your perspective.
- Your promise lies in growth.
The more consistently you use this model, the more presence of mind you can bring to upcoming challenges. This is your golden key to reducing stress and enhancing creativity, so you can live your very best life in the midst of change.
How can you make time choices to transform your life for the better?© Copyright 2009 Paula Eder, Ph.D.