Expecting the Unexpected (& Accepting the Unacceptable)

Wow! A HUGE thank you to everyone who checked out Video #1 of the Take Back Your Time Video Training Series! All your visits and shares #BrokeTheInternet. Okay, maybe not to the same degree as a certain celebrity, but 18 hours of server upgrades feels just as newsworthy to me! I can't tell you how much it means to me and since my platform doesn't consider emoticons to be "English language characters," I'll simply say "Thanks!"

If you've been reading the Blog for a while, you know that I pride myself in my ability to plan things out and expect the unexpected. I'm the type of person who has a Plan A-Z (and a backup battery, parachute, and emergency snack - just in case!) 

And while this serves as a (somewhat) healthy outlet for my neuroticism, it also creates an "expectation hangover" when things don't work out according to plan. The truth is that no amount of preparation ever prepares us for the unknown.

Think back to the last time you "braced" yourself for something - it could be for "a bumpy ride," a fun night out, or, if you're like me, for allergy season. 

Were you in any way, shape, or form "braced" by your expectations? Or did they serve to keep you stressed while you tried to control the uncontrollable. Whether it's other people, planets in "retrograde," or Proxy Servers, sometimes you need to throw some healthy detachment at it and just say "F*ck It!" Because the truth is that acceptance doesn't mean you're okay with your circumstances, it means you're able to:

  • Accept the things you can't change
  • Use courage to change the things you can, and
  • Have the wisdom to know the difference.  

The Serenity Prayer isn't just for 12-Step meetings. It's also what gives you the ability to deal with challenging people, to leave a job that's not right, or to stop hitting refresh when you're waiting for a website update. So here's

The Takeaway:

Sometimes things don't go according to plan. The key to learning from mistakes is figuring out what what you can do, what you can't do, and then calling customer service.

Curious to see the video that broke my server?

*fingers crossed*

How to Overcome Ambivalence & Take Action Now

I’m the first to admit that I don’t do well with change. I don’t like uncertainty and I don’t like people who tell me to “patiently wait,” “surrender,” or “carry snacks if you’re going to be that hangry.”

I’m a meditator who moonlights as a list-making, control freak.

So it was no surprise that while working with a client on her “Action Plan for Change,” a lightbulb went off. Most people want change, but never achieve it. Either they don’t have the support, structure, or science to create lasting results. I need to give my readers the behind-the-scenes tool I use to help clients stop second-guessing and take meaningful action.

In my training to transition from coach to therapist, I’ve learned countless approaches and theories on change. Today, I want to share the “Stages of Change Model.” Designed to modify behaviors and address motivational challenges, it determines which actions you should take based on your level of readiness. 

Why should this matter to you? Because understanding your readiness to change will help you to:

  • Find Answers
  • Make decisions
  • Stop judging yourself
  • Take action
  • Be okay with not always being okay

Addressing Ambivalence:

Everyone feels ambivalent at times. Often, we want 2 things that can’t coexist:

  • You want to leave your job, but you’re scared you won’t find anything else.
  • You’re unhappy in your relationship, but you don’t want to go on another first date.
  • You can’t decide between the warm comfort of pizza and the sweet siren song of a brownie.

The anxiety we feel before making a decision and the second-guessing that ensues is all part of the human experience. This is especially true when it comes to major life changes. The key to overcoming ambivalence and taking action is assessing your readiness to change. 


How The "Stages of Change" Work:

  • It’s a circle, not a line. This isn’t geometry lesson, it’s an annoying fact of life. Growth isn’t linear and neither is change. We move through the stages in an upward spiral.

  • Pre-contemplation is the stage where you aren’t thinking about making a change. Maybe you don’t see something as a problem, maybe it’s not that bad yet, or maybe you’re rationalizing it. Either way, this is the stage where you have no motivation to change because you don’t think there’s anything to change.

  • Contemplation is the stage where you’re on the fence. You’ll consider the possibility that maybe you might what to change, but you’re ambivalent. You haven’t made a decision, but you’re open (even if reluctantly) to the idea that a change might be warranted.

  • In the Preparation Stage you’ve made the decision to change and are making plans to change the behavior or situation that isn’t serving you.

  • In the Action Stage, you’re implementing your plan, continuing to adjust it as needed.

  • In the Maintenance Stage, you’re a few months into the change or new behavior. It’s getting easier and beginning to feel more natural.

  • In the Relapse Stage, you’ve taken a detour to your old behavior or situation. Whether it’s stress, transition or anything else, relapse is natural. It is a normal and necessary part of change, strengthening your resolve to a greater degree.

5 Steps To Create Change:

1. Determine your stage after reviewing the diagram above.

2. Strengthen your will to change by tapping into the reasons why you want to change now. Motivation is an emotion. Like any emotion, it can wax and wane. Learn how to maintain motivation here.

3. Choose from the following:

  • If you’re in the Contemplation Stage- Consider the advantages and disadvantages of making a change. Think back to previous attempts to change and the ways these methods helped or fell short. Use this tool to guide you.
  • If you’re in the Preparation Stage- Make a realistic plan.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my clients (and myself) that sustainable change doesn't happen overnight. Set yourself up for success by creating a start to finish plan that anticipates and addresses the challenges you faced when you made a previous attempt. It may be helpful to talk through your plan with a therapist, coach, or trusted advisor.
  • If you’re in the Action or Maintenance Stages- Follow you plan and adjust it as necessary. Reach out for support. Change isn’t easy. Nobody gets to where they are alone.
  • If you’re in the Relapse Stage- Focus on self-forgiveness and reach out for support. You may be tempted to give up your plan, but remember that this is an opportunity to learn what doesn’t work and alter it accordingly.

4. When you feel ambivalent or lose motivation, amplify the parts of you that want to create change while acknowledging the feelings that have previously kept you stuck. Tell yourself “Even though I would rather watch TV than go for a walk, I know I will feel better after I start.” Then, go back to your list of motivating reasons.

5. Reach out for support. Your friends and family want you to succeed! And while most of us suck at asking for help, new results come from taking new actions. 

The Takeaway:

Your awareness and motivation are the keys to beating ambivalence and creating lasting change. If you’re still on the fence about making a change, it’s better to clarify and plan than to go full steam ahead. Success comes from taking steps that align with your readiness to change.

If you're ready to make a change and want a customized plan to give you:

Add To Cart
  • Clarity on the change you want
  • The concrete and measurable action steps to make it happen
  • Strategies to address obstacles that previously got in the way
  • The secret to maintaining motivation

Then, check out My Action Plan.

Going All In

Left to my own devices, I’m the type of person who has a contingency plan.

And a contingency plan for my contingency plan.

My brand of anxiety likes to plan for any and all eventualities.
Some of these comfort me: like knowing what items to grab from my apartment should a natural disaster occur.  

And others just take up room in my mind: like knowing what I’d want on my playlist for the aforementioned disaster.

This compulsive need to plan impacted every area of my life.

For example, in my 20s, I had a boyfriend who consistently cancelled plans because he had to work, he overslept, or had a hangover. This annoyed the shit out of me. But, in a well-intentioned effort to “make things work,” I decided to manage my expectations and always have a plan B.

The problem was that long after our relationship ended, the pattern remained. I still needed an alternate plan in case things didn’t work out. Be it a backup job opportunity, a backup friend, or a backup brunch order in case they’re out of bacon (again).

So why is this a bad thing?

  • Because it prevented me from going all in.
  • It prevented me from ever truly “showing up.”
  • It prevented me from respecting my boundaries.

In short, it obstructed my ability to create what I truly wanted (Plan A).

Contingency plans aren’t about increasing your chances of success or happiness, they're often about fear. Plan B is all about survival mode. And, not surprisingly, survival mode is not where dreams, creativity, or potential flourish.

Knowing there’s an alternate plan gives us a way out. It protects us from disappointment.

For example, had I stopped having a plan B when he’d cancel, the disappointment may have fueled me to communicate that his behavior didn’t work for me rather than engaging in a codependent tango. (Tango lessons were another thing he didn’t show up for, btw.)

So now, plan A is the only plan I sign up for. I don’t waste my energy on hypothetical plan Bs because it’s less energy that can go into plan A. And much like plan A can’t coexist with plan B, living with passion cannot coexist with fear.

So how do you muster the confidence, space, and drive to go all in?

By consciously redirecting your energy, tapping into that obsessive ability to plan, and directing it toward plan A.

Here’s How:

  1. Activate it. Motivation is an emotion. And like any other emotion, it cycles. At the start of your plan, capitalize on the excess by creating a reserve that you can tap into later. Here’s how.
  2. Anticipate it. What obstacles have come up in the past? What might come up in the future? When you see an obstacle, troubleshoot it and make it part of the plan rather than creating a backup plan.
  3. Accept it. Your path may not look the way you anticipated. That’s okay. Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment. The skills you develop along the way will help you with your next goal.
  4. Assimilate it. Spend time studying the parts of your plan that didn’t look as expected. Instead of beating yourself up, ask yourself: what stopped me? What obstacles got in my way that I can anticipate next time? What parts helped me to succeed? Learn from experience and assimilate it into your plans.
  5. Re-Activate it. Go back to #1 and review your answers. Tapping into your motivation to achieve plan A will help you to stay the course rather than jumping to plan B.