Who or what helps us make the changes we strive for? (1/2)


As we step into 2014, we may have exciting new projects ahead. The weather is starting to change, there may be a spring in our step and our goals for the year may seem more possible. New growth feels achievable! So how do we each go about attempting to make the changes we are striving for? Do we launch into the new adventure with planning and preparation? Do we consider who or what we might need to set up the new experiment and how we might sustain the changes? This month we hear from three colleagues who share their experiences of embarking on a change. Next month we hear the voice of our clients. What emerges from these stories is the unique and different ways people approach change, using a combination of personal knowledge & resources and the process of reaching out to others for help to start out on a new path.

Sarah reflects on how she set up a change to her life recently. Sarah starts with turning to others: ‘Doing it with another person e.g. spouse, who wants to make the same change for the same reason; doing it together can make all the difference. Having others around me who have made this change or a similar one and seeing the benefits it has brought them can be inspiring. Also, being confident and assured that those who may be supporting me in change are well equipped, be it in terms of qualifications, emotionally, intellectually etc.’ And then looking to her own resources: ‘I have found taking smaller regular steps is more likely to result in lasting and actual change. Seeing benefits (albeit small) can spur me on and be very motivating. Being flexible and open to adjusting my expectations or goals in light of new information can keep the momentum of change and stop me from going backwards. I often think of the wheel of change we sometimes use in therapy and how easy it is to slip backwards if new habits aren’t maintained!’

Nic knows what works for her: ‘My projects usually start as an idea while I’m cooking tea for my 3 kids. In between peeling, stirring and then usually overcooking, I brainstorm ideas on the pile of scrap paper I keep in the kitchen for this very purpose. The next step is to talk to my trusted, enthusiastic, inspiring, always encouraging colleagues and my service manager who generally tell me to ‘go for it’. I must then set myself a strict deadline to ensure the idea is not squeezed out by the pressure for face to face clinical contacts.’

Mark: ‘In my experience support for ‘new growth’ comes from clinical supervision, sharing of ideas and projects with supportive and motivated colleagues, good team dynamics, and a supportive line manager. I found the opportunity to talk through the situation in relation to a big job change recently really helpful, especially my feelings related to it. It felt invaluable to do this with someone unconnected to the situation in any way (in private clinical supervision), as their distance and impartiality, not to mention enormous skill in listening and hearing the real issues, really helped me to see what was happening and to tease out why I was feeling such mixed emotions.’

New growth depends on many factors, including reaching out to a variety of people (both those within and outside a situation), being flexible enough to adjust expectations, setting useful deadlines and knowing what works for you as an individual. We invite you to email us with your stories of change and growth. What helped or hindered you to move in the direction you wanted? What lessons have you learned that you are carrying forward into your next innovation?

Thanks to everyone for their contributions so far!