Awareness is the first step of change, but if you stop there – nothing happens.
If I didn’t already know that to be true, I get a painful reminder every March. You see, I live in Buffalo, NY. Winters here are long, cold and dark. Unfortunately, for me that tends to correlate with a decrease in exercise and an increase in chicken wing consumption! Not surprising, when I pack for our spring beach vacation, the awareness level is at an all time high!
Bathing suits, t-shirts and shorts don’t fit the same as I remember! I get a harsh dose of awareness when I try on shorts that have mysteriously become two sizes too small! That’s awareness with a capital “A”!
So, I’m done right? I got fat, I’m aware, check the box – Is that it?
Of course not. In fact, ALL of the work lies ahead.
Furthermore, what I choose to do with my awareness has a huge impact on how my effort to change concludes.
Let’s forget my fat and focus on your life/career. The situation is no different. I raised your awareness by presenting you with 13 Signs your life/career may have plateaued. Many of you used this post to ‘look in the mirror’ and your awareness increased.
In fact, I heard from many of you that you too didn’t like what you “saw in the mirror” – you asked me for the next step.
So what do you do after awareness is established?
The answer to this question is pivital if you desire sustainable change. I work with plateaued high achievers everyday – I’ve seen the gamit of resopnses. I can tell you there are 4 all too common responses and 1 preferred response. Let’s take a look…
- Rationalization – This is when you decide your situation really isn’t that bad. You might think “who the hell is this Valutis guy writing about Plateau’s and Treadmills trying to mess with my head.” You say to your self – “I’m fine – I’ve got a lot more than most and nobody has everything they want. I just had a bad day when I answered those questions – I feel good about who I am, what I’m doing and where I’m going.”
- Ignore and Deny – This is the classic ostrich approach. It is also the infamous – cover your eyes and the boogie man goes away. Take whatever brief awareness you have and throw it away. Go back to your life and move on. If this is your second step it is also your last. You don’t want to think about, talk about it or read about it.
- Gut it out – This is the tough-guy strategy. If this is you, you are thinking “Fine, I can relate to being plateaued at work, but I’ve only got X years to go. I’m going to gut it out. I want my pension and then I’ll start making plans.” There may be different aspects of your life you are “gutting it out.” Often, this strategy leads you beyond Plateau and you start to decline.
- Seek the Comfort of Others – There are lots of plateaued people in this world. One strategy is to find them and huddle for warmth. You can have a great time bitching and whining as a pack. You can talk about how unfair the world is and all of your bad luck. If you do it regularly – it might even keep the edge off. You keep your nagging thoughts and restless heart at bay enough to plug along for another 5 years.
You may not like the way these four sound when you read them, but I bet you’ve used them! I have. Rationalizing is my favorite – watch. “I’m 54 years old and have a wonderful wife who loves me just the way I am – why should I lose 15 pounds?” See that – no change is needed for me!
Don’t fall for these four – demand more for your life/career. Take the right step…
Start the Journey – Act on your awareness. Embrace the aspects of your life/career that plateaued; accept the challenge to change. You have the power to relaunch your purpose, passion and potential. Start with a period of reflection and consideration. Take a deliberate look at your situation and begin to target the elements of your life/career to a) keep, b) change or c) remove.
Want something more? Reach out to me to learn more about my process for rediscovering your passion and purpose. In the meantime – I’m going to the gym!