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     Initiating And Managing Change

Do you find yourself wanting a different way of life, but have just continued down that same path because it was FAMILIAR? Many people become stuck in this way because of the "security of sameness."

I have to say that my life has been a most interesting set of twists and turns, but I've always had the opportunity to maintain a little bit of CONTROL. The control I kept, however, was not over my environment or my direction, but on me and how I handled or initiated CHANGE. You realize when you get stuck and that you devise a plan to move forward -- it all depends on how you manage and initiate your own change.

I hear so many people say that you cannot plan your life, "you just let it happen." So, what happens while you're sitting there waiting for life to happen? You need some level of planning to move in the right direction. But, if you plan your life too rigidly, what experiences will you miss out on? You really can't plan your life and ever expect it to work out exactly as you had intended. I know that sounds bad, but planning your life and expecting to stick to that plan at all costs will only LIMIT your options and keep you in one place all the time. The key to planning is FLEXIBILITY -- being able to shift your goals as your life changes over time.

Realize that, as you experience change and enjoy life, you GROW. As your point of view changes, so do your directions and OPTIONS in life. You must be willing to change your life's plan as you grow so that you can take on more challenging things and be accepting of other new experiences. The point is that you cannot plan your life in an absolute manner or you'll either miss out on new experiences or end up in a place you no longer want to be.

Sameness is security for many. You wake up, go to work, go to the store, take care of the kids, change the oil in the car -- what else is there? If you notice, the sameness you experience is in the form of a geometric SHAPE -- line, square, circle, rectangle, or triangle. Take note of the things you do during your day and determine the shape of the consistent PATHS you take. The easiest way to break out of this shape is to change your path from time-to-time. I'm speaking of any path that seems to have etched itself into your existence -- you create a "rut" in your virtual road from travelling the same path too often.

At first, even small changes will take a lot of EFFORT, but the one thing you'll begin to notice is that you're INDIRECTLY changing other things in your life as well. This is what you want to do! This domino effect helps you break out of your shape once and for all. After that, you will have to figure out what it is that you want out of life -- something that provides you with fulfillment, satisfying a feeling or desire as a reward in itself.

To help you stay out of your rut, you must make a plan that takes into account the many things you want to do in life. The overall plan consists of your mission, your vision, and your goals. Each of these items identifies what you WANT, where you're GOING, and how to get there.

As you examine your goals, you might find that you want to do a dozen (or more) things, know you won't have time for all of them, but aren't sure which are your real PRIORITIES. To resolve this situation, write down all of the different objectives you have in your life. Make them action phrases like "writing a book" or "driving across the country." Make the list as long or as short as you like. Then, next to each item, write the specific FULFILLMENT to be achieved next to each item. Make each word an adjective or each phrase descriptive of something tangible. For instance, "writing a book" might provide "fame and fortune" while "driving across the country" might provide "freedom."

Once you've finished classifying your objectives, you'll find that most of them DUPLICATE the same fulfillments. This is where a lot of people run into a problem! You have a million things to do, no time to do any of them, and your inner need is to feel the fulfillment. To resolve this, group the items in separate lists by the fulfillment you describe. From each new list, figure out the activities that will give you the GREATEST feeling of satisfaction. From this final list, you have your primary objectives to accomplish -- all others are secondary and should not be focused upon until you've finished your primary objectives.

Once you've figure out your primary objectives, you must now figure out how to get there:
  • The VISION is a view of things in the future -- where you see yourself. Realize that your vision will change many times over your life, but each redefinition gives you a clearer view of where you want to go based on your growth.

  • The MISSIOn is a statement that defines what you will do to reach your vision -- the action that you perform to reach your vision. As your vision changes, so must your mission because your direction will change as well.

  • GOALS are important in that they add direction and purpose to life. They define the intermediate steps involved in accomplishing your mission. As each goal is accomplished, you are that much closer to your vision.

Once you've defined your goals, you can begin defining and executing your plan of ACTION. For each goal, you must define the STEPS required to reach them. For instance, one of my past visions was to "work at home as a writer." My mission was to do "technical writing and work in other writing arenas to enhance my talent and my exposure." Some of my goals to reach the initial vision were:
  • locate three writing contracts
  • work to generate income for 6 months of unemployment
  • locate insurance
  • quit day job

For each goal, I defined a set of SMALLER steps or actions that helped me accomplish the goal. For instance, my plan of action for "Locate three writing contracts" was:
  • assemble my writing samples
  • rebuild Web site to advertise my work
  • rewrite resume to reflect direction for software documentation
  • talk to local recruiters about opportunities
  • visit sites for telecommuting opportunities on a weekly basis
Obviously, you must be careful when defining your goals and plan of action so that you perform the steps in the proper ORDER. If you define your steps in such a way that you end up in a deadlock, then your entire plan is useless. Make sure that you organize your goals and your plan of action such that each step builds on the previous.

Don't feel that this process is over after you do it the first time. This is an iterative process that forces you to REEVALUATE your direction as you accomplish each goal in your path. Not only will this reevaluation and reassessment of your direction help you stay out of the consistent geometric shapes that put you in a rut, but it will keep your life moving FORWARD to greater fulfillment in the things that really make a difference for you.


Edward Toupin is a freelance consultant, writer, and published author. He currently provides writing services as well as imagineers and markets feature-length and short screenplays. With 10 years of experience, Edward provides quality Web site design, development, and marketing as well as writing, document design and planning, and e-book publishing services. You can visit his Web site at www.toupin.com or contact him at .

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