Making Successful Changes – Part 2

As we mentioned in part one of this article, change is very difficult no matter what we want to change. Now we will look at other components for making successful changes in our lives.

Taking small steps to change

Consider taking one small step that you can take to begin the change process. An old Chinese proverb says, “The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” Change is much easier and less scary when it is done in small steps. For example, to work on shyness, one might begin by saying hi to the neighbors or to the cashier at the supermarket and then work up to small, light conversations with others. They could then possibly build up to joining a club and participating in activities or committees. The key is taking small steps in change, rather than overwhelming, sweeping changes. A good example of small changes is when I wanted to get back into doing artwork, but froze when I sat down in front of the blank canvas. So, I started out with using crayons and letter-sized paper, and just making shapes and using different colors together. I told myself that the end result doesn’t matter (lessening expectations and self-judgment), and what was important was the experience of creation (refocusing on the true need). This made the process less intimidating so I could get back to something I loved so much. From those small steps, I moved on to using different materials and techniques while feeling more confident in my artistic abilities.

Slow change creates significant progress

Once you have discovered a good small step – put it into action. Depending on the severity of the problem, one may need to start out very slowly with the first step and repeat it a few times for significant progress to be made. For example, if one is very shy, the first step might be repeated once or twice a week, and work up to doing it daily until one feels more comfortable to move onto the second step.

Celebrate and record your progress

After each step, celebrate your small step even if you feel the result was not as you expected. Remember that when you first started learning something new, like riding a bike, you probably didn’t do it perfectly. It took patience, practice and perseverance. Celebrate your courage, the experience of change, and your desire to take care of yourself. It is important to celebrate and appreciate yourself when you are in the change process. Record your progress and achievements. This can instill a sense of accomplishment as well as help to identify any further trouble spots in your progress.

Support is a necessity

Most of all, support is crucial during change. Seek support and feedback from understanding friends and others. Find a friend who shares your goals so you can help each other in making changes. Recognize that change is very hard and scary. As I said previously, we are very demanding on ourselves. We expect ourselves to be perfect and handle everything with ease. In actuality, we are human. It is OK to struggle and to be afraid, as long as we don’t allow the fear or obstacles to block our progress. Give yourself support by challenging self-criticism, and telling yourself nurturing statements daily. Some examples of a nurturing statement are, “I appreciate myself for who I am” and “It’s OK to be imperfect.”

Fear of failure

Finally, a big obstacle for change is our natural fear of failure. There are two quotes that can give us perspective on failure. The first is, “Failure is never final! The only time you can’t afford to fail is the very last time you try. Failure does not mean we should give up; it just means we have a reason to start over.” (Don Shelby) The second, by Samuel Johnson, “Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.” We may get frustrated or disappointed, and yet, we need to venture on in spite of these obstacles. Change comes through with patience and determination to overcome the challenge that has confronted us.

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Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2010 The information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Author's Bio:

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO and Ellen Borowka, MA, COO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC have over 25 years experience in the area of business and human behavioral consulting. They have been helping organizations both nationally and internationally in raising the hiring bar through using in-depth work style assessments.  They are nationally renowned speakers and radio personalities on this topic. They have built a well recognized organization that provides expert interpretation of in-depth work style assessments during the hiring process, providing a variety of workshops and assisting those with communication challenges. They are authors of the book, “Cracking the Personality Code”. To order the book, please go to

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA  90403, (310) 453-6556, & our website:

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, workshops, and executive & employee coaching.


About the Author

Dana Borowka, along with his wife, Ellen, run a Personality Assessment Company called Lighthouse Consulting. They provide personality assessments used in hiring decisions and team building. Dana and Ellen have authored a book for improving hiring decisions and and strengthening effective leadership, titled "Cracking the Personality Code".

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