Nothing Changes Until Something Changes – The Six Step Change Process

I used to work for someone who used this saying quite a lot. To some it may appear to be as obvious as the nose on your face, but understanding it and applying it to your life are two different things. Until you change something you will see nothing change.

Most people will have heard the saying that the definition of stupidity is continuing to do the same things but expecting a different result. How many of us in our work or personal lives have fallen victim to doing exactly that? Well the title of this article says much the same thing but also offers a change process.

In short if you want things to change, then you must change something. Everything in this world and in our lives will tend to settle towards a place of equilibrium. If you seek change then you need to “mess up” the equilibrium. And equilibrium has many different names: status quo, standard operating procedure, spinning your wheels and just being in a rut are a few that come to mind.

There are also well-documented and recorded processes that essentially follow this same principle of “nothing changes until something changes.” Look at the twelve-step change process used by Alcoholics Anonymous and other similar groups seeking to overcome substance dependencies. The very first step in their change process is to recognise there is a problem and that they need to change. Christians also have similar change process called repentance. To repent is to recognise that you have sinned and need to turn your life around.

So what I propose here is to offer a six-step change process for personal change that is simple and hopefully will prove effective.

Step 1 – Define your situation.

What situation(s) are you in that you believe needs to be changed? This could include your relationships, spirituality, finances, occupation, education, emotional state or anything else. Define them and write them down as succinctly as you can as a starting point.

Step 2 – Consider all aspects.

This step is crucial and should not be taken lightly. When you describe the situation look at both the good and bad aspects. It can be too easy to only look at the bad things and that can lead to even more depressing matters. But when you look at the good things as well it will provide some comfort and some positive reinforcement that says, “Hey, it’s really not all bad.” Also when it comes to doing something about the issues at hand, you may find that change is not so much about reducing the negatives, but how to enhance or increase the positives. As before, write down what you think and what you feel.

Step 3 – Nothing changes until something changes.

At this point it is important to recognise that if you want or need to change anything on your list, then you seriously have to make the effort to change. The point of this step is reaffirming your commitment to make the necessary changes.

Step 4 – Visualise the future.

For each of the items on your list you need to get a picture in your mind of what the future should look like if it were all good. What aspects would you change? What possible steps might need to be taken? What time frame do you think it might take? As you go through these questions write down your responses and build the picture of what it will be like when you “get there.”

Step 5 – Build an action plan.

This can be tricky, especially if you have a really long list of things that need to be changed. If you try to attempt everything at once you are doomed for failure, unless you are a really special kind of person. You may also find that by tackling too much you put yourself under more stress and the last state becomes worse than the first.

I recommend you capture all of the changes you believe are needed, but then apply the 80/20 rule. Prioritise the changes and build a specific plan with actions, goals and timelines for ONLY the top three issues that will make the biggest difference in your situation. If you have prioritised appropriately, then knocking over the top three will go a long way to alleviating your stress and will help you move forward to the next phase. If your issues are really pressing you down, then work on only one, but remember the key is that “Nothing Changes Until Something Changes.”

Step 6 – Do it now!

Everything up to this last point is only preparation. The final phase is to do it and do it now. It is critical that you don’t procrastinate. If there are issues or improvements to be made, NOW is the time to begin. It doesn’t matter how small a step you take just do something. As that other old saying says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

The other way this helps is that by doing something you begin to change the way you think. You are no longer looking for change but you have started the change journey. In everything we do, the battle in the mind is the hardest, so change the way you think and you will change what you do.

This change process can work in many situations and like any improvement plan it works only if it is used. This change process is freely offered to assist anyone who needs help in this area. I hope you find something valuable, or if you know someone who might find this of benefit, then feel free to pass it on.

I hope that you found something here to help you or add to your own knowledge. If you have any questions, then please feel free to contact me.