Five Steps to Real Change

ChangeDoug Griffiths, Community Builder

The comic attached to this column has appeared in many places, and like most pictures such as this, its brilliance lies in its ability to layer humour over some very bitter truths. So many of us desperately want the world to be different and we exhaust a lot of energy decrying our current lot. However, changing the world starts with changing ourselves. Yet we don’t change, or more often, we won’t even try to change.

Instead, we choose to carry on complaining and wondering when someone else is going to make the world better for us. Making things better takes hard work, and requires a willingness to change. Making things better in your community also requires hard work and a willingness to change. Success is not made by a lottery win or a magic bullet. However, there are five steps that are required to get real change in your life and in your community.

The first step is simple. Admit there is a problem. Admit your current situation is undesirable and you want something better. Without this step, nothing changes. Yet, not taking this first step is very common. We lie to ourselves to make the problem go away. We say we are ‘fat fit’, or that the amount we drink is fine, or that we have no control over our current situation. In communities, we say our situation is the result of economic forces beyond our control, or that our community doesn’t have a problem, or that we support local businesses just fine. Regardless, they are lies we tell ourselves so we don’t feel responsible or a need to change. Finding success begins with recognizing there is a problem.

The second step requires a willingness to change. Many people will take the first step in admitting there is a problem, but aren’t willing to change. They admit they are overweight or out of shape, but aren’t willing to doing something about it. Communities are no different. Many communities admit their attitudes and actions cause young people to leave their community. Most, however, aren’t willing to stop doing what is driving them away. So, even though they have admitted there is a problem, they aren’t willing to change themselves to find success.

The third step is a commitment to action. Resolutions are made every New Year, founded on the recognition that there is a problem and a deep desire to change ourselves to fix it. Often an entire year goes by without action, however. Without real action, nothing changes. You may realize you are out of shape and really want to change, but unless you start to get exercise on a regular basis you won’t lose weight or get fit. The same applies to communities. Many of them know there is a problem, realize they should change to address it, but then fail in the follow through.

The fourth step cannot be overlooked, because it is about carrying on when you fail. And yes, you will fail at some point. Too often we think that failing is the opposite of success, but that is wrong. Failing is a part of finding success. The opposite of success is not failing, it is giving up. The fourth step to real change is knowing that you will fail at some point, but finding that motivation to get back up and keep going.

The last step is about realizing you are never really done working on change. As you make progress, review and reassess what is working and what isn’t. If something isn’t working then go back to step one, admit there is a problem, and carry on through the steps again. Changing for the better, finding success, is not a process that is ever done. It is a mindset that makes you, and your community, adaptable and persistent, or as my friends like to say – resilient. If you want real change, take these five steps, because without them you will never get past complaining.

Change can be tough to handle, but it is never impossible. If you really want to make your community better, if you are honestly ready to look for success, give us a call. We know, when it comes to finding a path to success . . . There’s Always A Way.

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