There are no two ways about it; whether you’re looking to make a change in your personal life or your professional life, change is hard. A high-performance mindset, however, will enable you recognize when change is required and can fuel you with the courage needed to venture into the unknown to enact that change. This multipart series is intended to be a guidebook of sorts to help you form the high-performance mindset needed to take on challenges and elevate yourself to a new level. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
Why is Change Hard
Why is it that we stay in an unfulfilling job for so long? Why is it that we don’t start that new business? Why is it that we stay in an unhealthy relationship? Why do we settle when our souls are so thirsty? Why is it that making changes to our lives that could vastly improve our happiness, health, and well-being is so damn hard? The answer to all of these questions can be found in a single word: fear.
Fear exists beyond our visible boundaries. Fear exists in the absence of knowledge. Fear exists in the absence of certainty. No matter how bad our current circumstances are with our personal or professional life, it is what we know. Humans have an incredible ability to adapt to circumstances even if they are shitty. We find comfort in the familiar and the predictable.
This comfort in what we know and the fearfulness we have in what we don’t know can hold us still, and this stillness can lead to stagnation that reverberates throughout our entire being. Fortunately, humans are equipped for with the capacity for so much more.
5 Progressive Signs That Tell You Change is Needed
- Lack of Satisfaction
- Lack of Happiness
- Lack of Fulfillment
- Lack of Purpose
- Lack of Passion
Lack of Satisfaction
If you find yourself not being satisfied with your situation then something is missing. If you are not satisfied, then are you even happy?
Lack of Happiness
If you are not satisfied, then are you limiting your happiness? If you are not happy, then are you being fulfilled?
Lack of Fulfillment
If you are not satisfied, which limits your happiness, then are you being fulfilled? Do you feel that something significant is missing inside you?
Lack of Purpose
If you are not satisfied, which limits your happiness, that indicates you’re not fulfilled, do you have purpose? If you don’t have a solid purpose serving as your guide, then how can you have the energy to do the hard things?
Lack of Passion
If you are not satisfied, which limits your happiness, that indicates you’re not fulfilled, and you lack a sense of purpose, then how can you have passion? Passion is the powerful energy that we can use to pursue goals and overcome obstacles, and it is derived from having clarity of purpose.
How to Initiate Hard Change
First and foremost, if you are going to make tough changes, you need to seriously consider the questions above and evaluate your answers. After careful reflection, the next thing you will need to institute hard change is purpose. Purpose will serve as your North Star when confronting challenges that are likely to occur with any change. It will be all too tempting to retreat to the comfort of what you know. Purpose will keep you oriented when chaos and tumult and serve to disorient you.
Once you solidly have your purpose, you are then poised to have passion. Passion is like rocket fuel propelling you towards a goal. Passion is purpose in action. However, expending passionate energy without some form of a plan is inefficient use of your time. As you approach instituting the change you desire, you should have a near-term plan. Planning is something you can easily overdo, putting yourself in a state of analysis paralysis that can lead to a “failure to launch” scenario. Don’t plan things out too far because: a) you’ll likely never move, and b) unknown circumstances have a way of cropping up that render your carefully laid plans obsolete. In Seal, he tells the story of going through rock climbing training during his time as a Navy Seal, beautifully illustrating this point. Owns was climbing a pitch when he became stuck. As he clung to the wall, panic and fear set in. He started to look all around for solutions, and in doing so, became less capable of solving his problem. He recounts how his grizzled climbing instructor offered him the advice of living within his two-foot radius. In that moment, all that really mattered to him and his situation was within two feet. He only needed to narrow his focus and intentions to this two-foot radius to overcome the challenge and to continue his ascent. This “two-foot radius” principle is profound in its simple ability to help you focus on what really matters in any given moment. Take action within your two-foot radius.
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
– Dale Carnegie –
Fear | The One Thing You Can Count On
In addition to the various circumstances that will invariably crop up, there is one obstacle you can plan on, and that is fear. As you venture out of your comfort zone and into uncomfortable unknowns, expect fear to arise. It is a common evolutionary response to shrink away, to move away from what we are afraid of. This is a basic survival mechanism that you are preprogrammed with. Having fear does not make you weak in any way; it makes you human. When this fear arrives and you are confronted with it, do not run. Rather, embrace the fear, as it is a clear indicator that you are doing something right. Sit with the fear and evaluate it. More often than not, once you shine a light on it, you’ll realize that what you’re afraid of is often not as scary as you make it out to be.
“Fear has a large shadow, but he himself is small”— Ruth Gendler
Remember, courage cannot exist without fear. Be courageous, embrace the fear, harness the fear, and move forward.
“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”— Nelson Mandela
As With All Things, Practice Makes Perfect
Repetition of an action sets new neurological pathways in our brain. This is a physiological act called myelination and is beautifully explained by Daniel Coyle in his book The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. The act of intentional practice, where we push ourselves just beyond our capabilities, is where we expand our capabilities. This holds true with sports as much as it does with fear. The more that you intentionally confront fear, the more proficient you’ll become at dealing with it. Fear is an extremely powerful motivator and it can be harnessed to propel you forward.
As you seek to forge a high-performance mindset built upon resilience, grit, discipline, and determination, you will have to confront and enact change in your life. Change is uncomfortable and scary, but if you wish to walk the precarious path to meaningful growth, you must face the fear of change. It is comfortable to stay where you are in life. You may feel comfort with your current circumstances because it is what you know. But is what you know good? Does it satisfy you, lead you to happiness, offer you fulfillment? If not, then your purpose is out of alignment. If you align your purpose towards what you want, then you will have passion that you can apply towards a plan. Keep in mind the two-foot radius principle to focus on what matters in any given moment and propel yourself forward with intentional action, over and over again. A high-performance mindset that leads to real growth is not easily obtained. The path can be scary, but the fruits of change far outweigh the stagnation of remaining in your current mediocre circumstances.