The 5 Principles of Change

I recently wrote a post about the willingness to change, and how being willing is the starting point to changing those areas of your life that you’re unsatisfied with.

I just finished reading a book titled Best Self:  Be You, Only Better, by life coach Mike Bayer.  In it, he talks about 5 fundamental truths that are helpful tools to prepare mentally for a life change.  I thought it was a unique perspective that I hadn’t heard of before, so I’m going to share them here with you.

As I said in the previous post, much of the change we need to make starts on the inside.  If our mindset doesn’t support the actions we want to take, then we won’t get very far.  Our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves will ultimately prevent us from reaching the goals we’ve set.

Bayer tells his readers that they must be committed to approaching change with these 5 principles:

  • Curiosity
  • Honesty
  • Openness
  • Willingness
  • Focus

In this post, I’ll be summarizing his explanation of how these principles can help you embrace change and achieve your goals.


Curiosity about yourself

Curiosity is the strong desire to know or learn something.  It’s where true learning begins.

I am constantly Googling questions because I’m curious about the answers.  My curiosity drives me to seek out that information and be a little more knowledgeable.

However, this doesn’t help much with knowing more about myself.  That’s because Google doesn’t have those answers, and I’m rarely prompted to go searching for some personal, internal enlightenment through a search engine.

But when we become curious about ourselves, we are inspired to gain a deeper understanding of our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, actions, decisions, dreams, passions, etc.  We become a student of ourselves.

When I search my inner being, I’m not just looking for trivial information.  Instead, I’m exploring those areas in my mind and my heart that help me understand who I really am.

This can be kind of scary for most.  So many people avoid digging too deep, because – well – ignorance is bliss, right?  The more we are aware of, the more complicated things can get.  It’s enough to have to deal with the external troubles in your life – why would you go searching for junk you’re walking around with 24/7?  Just the idea of stirring up the mud can be emotionally draining.

But, I’m convinced, there’s no way around it.  You have to face your demons head on, or they’ll always have some control in your life.  And the best way to overcome any fear is to face it head-on.

Someone once said that “courage is being scared but doing it anyway”.  When you confront those dark places in your heart and mind – when you call them out and wrestle with them – you only increase your inner power and courage.  And you realize you’re a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for.

Related Post:  How To Change Your Mindset and Achieve Your Goals

A great way to learn more about yourself is to engage in experiential learning.  This means using all of your senses to explore your thought patterns, your actions, and how you engage with the world around you.  You want to develop a sharp awareness of how your thoughts lead to your behaviors, and how they affect the way you interact in relationships.

As much as you can, become an objective observer of the person you are.  Look at yourself as someone you’re studying, so you can understand what really makes you tick.  Take notes, keep a log, journal about your findings.  Your objective is to find those areas that need improvement, so you can be the best version of yourself possible.

This curiosity about yourself will lead you down paths you’ve never explored before.  You’ll be enlightened in new ways, and your mind will begin to open up to new ideas and perspectives.

One caution:  don’t get hung up on all of your faults and flaws.  Being curious isn’t about looking for everything that’s wrong with you and getting down on yourself.  Remember, you want to engage in change because you care about the person you want to become.

So, be honest but give yourself grace.  Allow your insights to move you toward an understanding of your whole self, so you know which direction you need to go.


Honesty with yourself

Denial can be a comfortable place to stay.  Which is why so many people are stuck in the same dysfunctional and unhealthy patterns.  Unless you’re honest with yourself about what needs to change, you will continually come up against road blocks that prevent you from making progress.

According to Bayer, wisdom begins with honesty.  And in order to make better choices in your life, you need to always be in pursuit of wisdom.

Of course, you can be honest without integrity.  So, it’s important that your truth is aligned with your moral standards.  Your honesty needs to come from a desire to do the right thing, so you can do right by yourself through the process.

You need total honesty to truly discover the person you want to become.

So, take some time to think of issues in your life you’ve been avoiding.  What are you in denial about?  What secrets need to be dragged out into the light and dealt with?  And are you harboring shame over anything?

Engage with the process of change from a place of truth.  Respect yourself by being honest in every area of your life.

Related Post:  A Willingness To Change: Here's The How & The Why


Openness to learning

I was listening to a podcast this morning that was talking about “belief ceilings”.  Which, basically, are beliefs we’ve had for so long that have never been challenged and seem to line up with circumstances so we believe them as true.  Some people call them limiting beliefs.

The tricky thing about belief ceilings is that they can be very convincing.  And once we’ve convinced ourselves of a certain belief, it’s tough to be open to the possibility that we could be wrong.  But unless that belief is based on facts, then there is always the possibility that part of our belief system is faulty.

Many times we choose not to change because we believe our efforts won’t get us the results we want.  We’re too committed to the false belief that our income is limited, or success depends on talent we don’t have, or we’re too old to try something new.

But when you open yourself up to the idea that maybe your limited mindset is holding you back from what you really want out of life, then you give yourself the opportunity to see the true answers.  Answers that were always there, you were just closed off to them.

It’s helpful to understand that this is just being human.  Your brain naturally wants to protect you, so it resists any ideas that could possibly upset the status quo.  If things are working fine the way they are, your brain will consider that “safe”.

But our brains don’t know the difference between escaping a real danger or trying to develop better habits.  It’s all a threat to the brain, which is why we typically resist change in our lives.

That’s why it’s important to be intentional about our thoughts.  Don’t leave it up to your feelings.  Take control of your mindset and *tell* your brain what to think.

This is where it’s important to be open to learning and accepting new ideas, beliefs, strategies, concepts, etc.  Open up your mind to trying new things and accepting the fact that you don’t have all the answers.  (If you did, you probably wouldn’t be where you are now.)

As you read and listen and learn and grow, remain teachable – always soaking in new ideas and points of view.  I’m not saying to accept everything – be sure you are lining up any new knowledge with your life values and principles.

But as you step into the journey of exploring who you are now and who you want to be, remember to be open to doing what’s necessary to get there.

Related Post:  The High Cost Of Limiting Beliefs


Focusing on your goals

I take in a lot of different content – from blogs to books to podcasts to YouTube videos.  I’m always trying to fill my mind with positive reinforcement and new knowledge because I know how easily I can get off track.

The more I take in, the more I realize that personal development isn’t complicated.  In fact, those that teach how to better yourself are all really saying the same thing, just with different twists.

One of those ideas is how focus makes the difference between success and giving up.  The only difference between someone who reached their goals and someone who didn’t is the one who was successful didn’t give up.

In other words, the successful person kept their focus on the goal.  They kept moving forward and didn’t let failure deter them.

When it comes to the day-to-day, staying focused on your goal will look different for you than it does for me.  I stay focused by working in a quiet space, by myself.  I like to have a candle burning and calm, instrumental music playing in the background.  But you might be able to focus better when you’re in a busy coffee shop, listening to loud 80s music in your earbuds.

Find what works for you.  When you know what type of environment helps you to be fully present and focused, you’ll make progress faster and you’ll keep moving forward.


Willingness to take action

This is where the rubber meets the road.

You must be willing to do whatever is necessary to improve your life and better yourself.  You must be willing to stepping outside of your comfort zone, try hard things, fail a lot, and never give up.

This is where most people get stuck, because being willing means taking action.  You can’t stop at dreaming or planning or talking or writing or thinking or reading.

You must be willing to take action – massive action.

If you find that you haven’t made the progress you want in your life, it’s probably due to a lack of willingness.

Your willingness can be strengthened by having a clear vision and a compelling “why”.  Connect your vision to a reason you feel strongly about so that you don’t easily give up when you’re feeling discouraged.

Sometimes we’re not willing because we think something is going to be too hard.  But if you’re resisting change because you’re afraid of failure, you’ll always be stuck.  Besides, the reality is that those *hard* things are usually not as difficult as we think.

So, be willing to say yes and take action.  To try new things and do what’s necessary.

That’s where real change begins.


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