Remember the last time you felt like you needed a major lifestyle change? Whether it’s a career move or business venture, pursuing or ending a relationship, or perhaps focusing on your interests and development?
Yet the circumstances or timing simply weren’t right for you to do anything about it back then. And so you bided your time, waiting for the right moment to act… or did you? Or are you still waiting the perfect scenario and time to come about?
But really, the perfect time to embrace change is: as soon as one realizes change is needed!
Instead, people often allow circumstances to delay action. Ultimately, many only take decisive action to change their lives when the proverbial shit has hit the fan, and there’s nothing left to lose.
We tell ourselves that this is the ‘right time’ because it’s only when you hit rock bottom where you can clearly see that you need to change. The discomfort from the status quo becomes much more unpleasant compared to the uncertainty of change, making it easy to act at this point.
But is that really the best time to have acted?
Consider the cost of lost opportunities – meaning lost time and potential because we didn’t act sooner? And what about the additional damage – financial, emotional, or physical, while we allowed ourselves to stay in a situation we knew was bad for us?
What new joys, new heights, or new successes could we have enjoyed, had we changed our situation sooner?
Anyone can choose between a bad situation and a good one. But to truly thrive, we must learn to identify and pursue the situations which are best aligned with our life goals, even if we’re still comfortable in our current situations.
Until it becomes second nature, here are three steps to help us push ourselves to accomplish this:
1. Anchoring the Pain
Take the time to understand what makes you think a change may be necessary. For example, this could be limited learning and growth opportunities at work. Clearly defining and acknowledging the source of pain ensures you have proper motivation to change your situation.
2. Defining the Ideal
It’s also equally important to understand what you want. You are now clear on why you want a change, but what does that change look like in an ideal world? For example, this could be a role in a new team where you could apply yourself in newer ways and be mentored by someone capable.
View the status quo and the desired outcome as relative to each other. This will give you a better perspective on the true opportunity costs of inaction, as well as the potential gains from timely action.
Also, having a clear picture of what success looks like means you’ll be much more focused and deliberate as you take steps to turn aspirations into reality.
3. Constant Review
Make a note of the two points above. Keep it in mind always. Share your intentions with a close and trusted friend if you have one.
It’s important to constantly review your goals and progress. You always want to have an idea of the original situation you wanted out of, your current situation, and the end situation you want to be in.
This will serve to pressure you to act when you get distracted, and motivate you by helping you recognize and celebrate the progress you have made.
Changing behaviour is never easy. But look inward, and ask yourself if there’s anything you could be happier with in your life today? If so, how would you like that situation to change? Would you be okay, if that situation never changed? What would life be like, if you managed to change that situation? And what would you have to do, to achieve that change?
And finally, if you have answered all the questions above – when is the ‘right time’ to start pursuing that lifestyle change?
“Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.” -FS Fitzgerald