A few years ago I heard about the formula for change. It was spring 2019 and I was working in London, I had a great job with amazing colleagues, was planning fun holidays and had just redecorated my flat. I found it an interesting concept and it sparked a few thoughts, but it's only now that I look back and see it in a whole new light. Because a year later in 2020, I quit my job and embarked on a new journey building a career from my passions and personality. I realised I wasn't fulfilled, and I decided to change everything.
That's the short story anyway, the catchy tagline, but it certainly wasn't a short decision.
It was the culmination of years of feeling frustrated but not knowing it, and then four trigger points pushed me into making a change. The first was embarking on a long-distance relationship. The second and third were tragic losses of treasured people in my life. The fourth was a global pandemic and, well, that REALLY made me take stock. The world suddenly changed and it woke me up to how dissatisfied I was with my place in it. And so, I changed.
In 2020 I quit my job, rented out my flat and left the UK, embarking on a 3-month trip to launch my new life that ended up being nearly 7, and took me all the way to Central America where I worked remotely from Belize.
It definitely was not easy, and I don't want to pretend that it was. Even if the formula for change looks easy, change is hard. It takes you out of your comfort zone and throws you into the unknown. I have had (and still have) so many moments of sheer panic and doubt, where I creep into thinking I should retreat and go back to the certainty of what life was like before. This is very common, and thankfully I have a lot of supportive people in my life who tell me to stop being stupid, to believe in myself and to fight through it. And I do.
But whilst it isn't easy, it can be simple. When I boiled it down to its most basic form, I simply wanted more from my life. I wanted to chase after my dreams and not keep myself small. We are taught to go after what we want in life, but only if we don't want too much. Well, I want a lot. And I'm not afraid to say that now. And you shouldn't either, no matter what it is that you want.
And knowing what you want is the key to changing. Having vision. Vision is the first and most important factor in the formula for change, and the rest of it goes like this:
The formula for change
f(V+D+S) < R = Change
V - Vision. What do you want? What are your dreams? One of my dear friends Magdalena Jensen who is a coach says that a great way to start addressing what you really want is to make a list of 100 things. ANYTHING can go on there from items to experiences to feelings, and giving yourself the freedom to list a great number can really open your eyes to what you want in life. My list is ever-growing and I find it so exciting to add things to it as they come to me.
D - Dissatisfaction. What is it that you see as ‘wrong’ in your life? It might be your job, your house, your relationship or something like what time you eat dinner each evening. However major or minor, taking stock of how it’s making you feel is crucial if you want to do something about it. The dissatisfaction I felt was only slight. I had a great job, I had a lovely home. I had nice things. This made it a lot harder to see that I had a constant level of frustration bubbling away inside me. But once you have pinpointed it, you'll realise how significant it is.
S - Steps. How will you achieve your vision? What would you need to do? What steps do you need to take. Operationally speaking...how would you make this a reality. But then…
R - Resistance. I can’t do it. They won’t let me. I can’t afford it. What if it goes wrong. What if I fail? What if I do it and hate it. Isn’t it safer to stay here? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. But I am comfortable. I don’t want to complain. It sounds like a lot of work. What is it that's holding you back? Is it yourself? Is it someone else or other factors?
f(V+D+S) < R = Change
But. If the sum of your vision, dissatisfaction and steps is greater than the resistance...change happens. Whilst they are all in balance, nothing will happen. But tweak one part of the equation and it will all shift.
If you want to build a mountain, carry a small pile of stones every day
How do I use the formula for change?
If the steps are too great, brainstorm ways to reduce them. If there is too much resistance, think of where it's coming from and how much of it is real and how much is your own subconscious trying to keep you where it is safe and comfortable. Write out lists for each factor and sit with them, let it all percolate. An answer might come to you.
Remember that you can start small. A series of tiny, gradual shifts will add up over time. It does not have to happen overnight.
How fast does it happen?
On some days I feel like I have achieved nothing. On others, it's like I have moved mountains. Keep track of your achievements and celebrate each one, because change is hard, and should be rewarded. You know my list of 100 things I want? I have a second tab of all the things I have. Being grateful for what you do have is just as important as acknowledging what you don't and going after it.
I don't do this alone. I take courses to learn new skills. I have coaching sessions to help me stay on track. I surround myself with people who encourage and support me and distance myself from the doubters. The people who hold you back will do so with the best possible intentions, but they are not the ones that have to live in the future you create for yourself, you are. I gave myself permission to say yes, to chase my true desires and to step into a new version of myself and it was the best decision I've ever made. You can do the same. Again, it isn't easy but it can be simple.
If you take nothing else away from this blog post, please remember that you need to focus on your vision and not your dissatisfaction. If you focus on the things in your life you aren't happy with, that's all you will ever see, and you will stay exactly where you are, miserable. Your dreams are the motivator, they are what will inch you into making changes. Be free to dream.
Recommended reading list
Fuck it, do what you love by John Parkin
The Big Leap: Conquer your hidden fear and take life to the next level by Gay Hendricks
Shine: Rediscovering Your Energy, Happiness and Purpose by Gavin Oattes and Andy Copeland