Making a decision to change something is easy. The energy it takes to actually decide is minimal. Often the decision comes at the conclusion of a long period of procrastination, where you have psychologically wrestled with the potential benefits and limitations of making that decision. But no matter what aspect of life the decision relates to, the actual choice to make a change is easy. It’s the action of making the change which is significantly more challenging….
There are a multitude of self help guides and gurus available, each with their own unique perspective on how to approach these types of choices and decisions. It’s easy to get lost in the plethora of stage and step by step approaches, which allege to guarantee us a lasting and easy to achieve, yet life changing, decision making process. In many cases however what they don’t tell you is, it’s difficult. No one has ever been sold on an idea because it was really hard to do. Yet, those changes that you really want in life are often times going to take you far away from the ‘comfort zone’ of your present situation. Whilst the dissatisfaction with the present situation may well be fuelling the desire to change, many of us quickly return to this position when we discover just how challenging the road to our desired destination is. Relapse is a part of change. It doesn’t mean we failed. It’s feedback to assist us in determination of the right way, energy or means we need to use to actually and positively make that change. There is never failure, only feedback.
Taking a realistic and common sense view, the first step outside of your ‘comfort zone’ will always be alien. Recognise this before you begin. The very nature of changing something means you are going to encounter situations which either will require a different perspective or indeed represent something which you have never done before. It’s all a learning curve. If you already knew how to do it then you’d already be doing it. The trick then is to become more comfortable being uncomfortable. Knowing the path will be hard at first, that it’s going to take energy and commitment, and yet believing in the value of what is to come is fundamental to your success. Adherence to that path of change is essentially determined by the value you place in the outcome of your labours. Without a coherent understanding of why you are doing what you are doing, what the result is going to provide on a fundamental level, then that path will get rockier, harder and like most people, you’ll sprint back inside that comfort zone and lock the door behind affirmations such as “I’m just not that person…” or “It’s not for me....”.
Keep SCORE of your change!
Fundamental understanding of your goal means understanding what intrinsic, base needs and values that outcome meets for you (e.g. security, belonging, recognition etc.) This knowledge then becomes the lighthouse beacon you’ll need to keep you sailing, when the storm of negativity gets fiercer and more challenging to navigate. It’s sometimes extremely difficult however to identify this greater personal value, to shift thinking from the mindset of “continued problem” to focus on “desired outcome”. Using the SCORE model can be a great way of assisting in this cognitive shift, enabling your focus to become more positive and solution orientated.
The SCORE model is essentially a really simple framework, which encourages the assessment of any given situation in five simple categories. Broadly the SCORE model can be viewed as method for determining the ‘gap’ between what we want (desired situation) and what we currently have (current situation). The gap is then filled with the solutions and resources required to bridge this divide.
The SCORE Model for Personal Growth is typically represented as a timeline.
Whilst reality and pragmatism are key to the process, by addressing our situation in this way we place our cognitive anchors firmly in the present and past. In this our weight of negative association can become such that it limits our perspective for change. It is beneficial to understand the timeline for use of the SCORE model, to appropriately anchor and focus our thoughts, however as a process for personal growth it is better used as a method of creating “FUTURE HISTORY”*. As such it’s application should begin with a definition of the desired situation, followed by understanding of the current situation, returning to positively reframe this for the future through creation of solutions and understanding of resources.
*Future History refers to the process of creating a narrative for the future, which is both detailed and compelling. In the same way as visualisation can aid in the delivery of a forthcoming athletic performance, psychological representation and visualisation of the desired situation required (as though it has already been achieved) can provide a much more compelling and positively affirming goal. When setting out this goal, attention should be provided to the language used in order to ensure it is written in a way which reaffirms it has already been achieved. For example,
“It is the 1st January and I am sitting am sitting in my new lounge in my new house. I can hear and smell the ocean through the open window. I feel secure and happy with my life...”
Defining Desired Situation
The desired situation is essentially where you want to get to. It is the ideal position, solution found and problem solved. This may be having a new job, paying off debt or living a more harmonious relationship. The more detail you can provide to the definition of your desired situation the more compelling and powerful it becomes. Through detailing the specific outcomes and their individual effects, a purposeful clarity and direction can be obtained.
These are the specific aspects of the desired state. Think of this as the definition. The statement of your objective. What it is you want or where you want to be. Starting with the end in mind provides you a coherent sense of direction and purpose on which you can based your future actions. At this point you are only setting out the goal, not looking to provide solutions. This is just a statement of intent, defining the ideal situation for yourself.
For each of the outcomes you have determined you now need to consider what the effect of achieving this will be for you. This is concerned with identifying the ‘goal beyond the goal’, what achieving the outcome will provide you with or allow you to do differently. When considering the effects give some consideration to the way that this will make you feel. Many decisions to change are driven by a deeper emotional need (such as security or belonging) and understanding this can be an extremely powerful and compelling motivator.
Defining Current Situation
The current situation is the ‘problem state’. This is the specific position, situation or circumstance that is limiting you and creating the present dissatisfaction or pain. As before deeply understanding what is happening, how this is affecting you and why this is the case is fundamental to ensuring motivation to change and take action towards attainment of the desired situation. Through considering the symptoms, the tangible and identifiable aspects of the problem and the specific causes for each of these, it is possible to obtain a clarity of the issues which in itself will provide solution and determination towards to correct actions for the future.
These are the defined, identifiable aspects of the problem state. In the same way that a medical condition is identifiable by the manifestation of physical symptoms, a problem will create identifiable symptoms which may manifest as physical (what we behave), psychological (how we perceive ourselves/the issue) or cognitive (how we think) blocks. For example, the symptoms of a specific problem state may manifest as confusion, lack of confidence (avoidance), feelings of anger/frustration or a lack of focus/concern. Again this isn’t about solving the issue, it’s about defining the issue. What are the symptoms of the problem state that you have been living with?
Often this can be the most searching, emotional and sometime challenging aspect of the process. What has happened to create the current circumstances? What is truly at the cause of the issue? The symptoms of the problem are really not the actual problem. The actual problem comes from what we have believed, thought and behaved to create the problem state. The cause is the root of the problem, which is often times something deeper, which we have been struggling with for sometime. The cause may well be the factor which is stopping you solving the problem and within this it is something deeply individual and personal, which may be loaded with psychological and emotional energy. Take time to consider the cause of the problem. When did it start? What was happening at the time? What seems to trigger the issues? What else is happening right now that might be causing this problem? Honestly understanding the causes of the problem is fundamental to ensuring the correct actions and behaviours are taken to move towards the desire situation.
Now you have the full picture, you can begin to identify what you need to resolve the problem and obtain that desired situation. These are the resources which correctly employed will solve the problem and move you forward. These resources may require you to obtain assistance or technical skills of another, however more likely having a full and honest understanding the the causes of the problem, you will identify that you have all the resources you need to change and resolve the situation. Often the resources you need to move from the current problem state, to your desired situation are centred within a shift of individual beliefs, values and perceptions.
The resources you need to effect true and lasting change
are already and have always existed within you.
To assist you in identifying the type of resources you need, consider a time where you have faced a similar type of problem and what you did then. Think about others who may have encountered similar problems, how did they solve the issue? Most importantly look into the future, at a time when you have successfully solved the problem, what are you doing differently and what advice would you give to yourself?
When identifying resources, think about the easy wins first. There are likely to be some small steps and some seemingly enormous ones. Conquer the small steps first. The seemingly enormous steps will shrink before your very eyes as you accomplish these.
Realise success and success will become the reality!
Keeping SCORE of your changes can really assist in ensuring that the path you choose, no matter how rocky and hard the surface may be, is heading in the correct direction. It’s not necessarily going to make it easier for you to travel. It’s not necessarily going to reduce the challenges you face. The reality is that when you step outside of that comfort zone of your current situation, you’re going to feel uncomfortable and uncertain.
What you will have though is the strongest compelling argument possible that the bright light at the end of the tunnel is indeed the sunshine. That the next harbour you sail into will be the right one and these turbulent seas you’re currently in are going to just a memory.
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