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How to Change When Change Seems So Hard!

By Craig Nathanson

Do I have to change who I am to do what I love? The answer is yes. When you go from one lackluster job to another one, not much personal change is needed. However, when you go from 'just a job' to a vocation that is doing what you love, it does require a change. It requires a coming out party, of sorts.

It requires a lifting the 'cover' off your true authentic self. It requires risk, creativity, and a new way of thinking about your work and life.

Meet Carl and Monica
Carl Battiste was a sales executive doing all the right things - all the things society has taught us to do. Carl worked hard to support his family, despite a growing feeling of being trapped, despite all the money his job brought in. One day, Carl just couldn't take it any more. He realized that the pain of not changing was suddenly greater than the pain involved with changing. Carl was passionate about real estate. He made the leap, and the real estate market has been very tough, but he has never been happier.

Monica Lee, a grandmother of ten, now just shy of 60 years old and an artist, remembers back when she made the big change. Shortly after turning 40, she realized that her passion was painting. Despite the uncertainty of making ends meet each month, and initially having to live in the back of her gallery while she rented out her house, and despite the makeshift bed, and showers with a garden hose, she knew this is what she had to do.

What can we learn from Carl, Monica, and others who made similar changes in their life? It is not easy to make big changes like this, and it will take great sacrifice. It will require emotional strength, unshakable belief in yourself, and a willingness to take risks with your life.

How you can apply these lessons for yourself?
First, decide what you really want to do. Figure out what you are good at doing, and what you really enjoy. This is where you should focus. All the rules we learn in school, and through life, about improving our weaknesses is a waste of time and life. If you do this, you will just be able to do lots of things, but they will all lack energy and passion. It is much better to focus your life's work and all your efforts on what you really love to do.

What's the worst that could happen if you do change?
Asking yourself this question is a healthy exercise. I doubt that you will die, or even go homeless. I have discovered that when a person does what they love, they suddenly find new creativity they didn't know existed as they figure out new ways to make the money they need to keep doing what they love. This is almost like an addiction, but this addiction is good for your soul!

What's the best that could happen if you do change?
This is an even better question to ask. Think about how the relationships in your life will improve. Think about how much happier you will be. Think about how much more energy you will have in your life.

How to do you achieve what you want?
First envision what you want. Write down exactly what you want to do.

Start talking to others now about this dream. Each day, take small steps toward your dream. These steps might be research, reading, taking a class, or talking to someone else who already does what you want to do. Measure your progress as you go. It is true that what gets measured, gets done - it forces you to reflect on your progress. Finally, reward yourself every step of the way. Small rewards you give yourself can be the best gifts of all!

What is at stake if you don't change?
This is the most important question of all. If you cannot answer this question, you will not take any action. If you cannot define for yourself what the effect of not changing will have on your life, you will not change. Only when you clearly see the result of NOT changing, will you suddenly find the inner strength to change.

Simply remaining who you are is effective, but not sufficient. To live with vocational passion, and do work that can last a lifetime takes courage, action, and creativity. It will also take a 'coming out' of the real you, no longer worried about what others will think. Change is hard, but only through difficult change will you really grow and, as a result, gain new perspectives about yourself and your world.

Craig Nathanson is a coaching expert who works with people over forty. Craig's book, 'Don't Just Retire and Die,' is designed to help people break free and move toward the work they love. Visit Craig's website at Dr Craig Nathanson where you can take a class, get more ideas through Craig books and CDs, get some private coaching over the phone or read stories of mid-life change and renewal. Craig lives in San Anselmo, California.
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