The Process of Change & Making It Yours

Fall provides such a powerful reminder of how beautiful change can be.

I currently live in New England, and one of the perks of living here is the remarkable color of the fall trees.

Truly, they’re stunning.

So bright and bold.

As I’ve watched the leaves gradually shift from summer to autumn, I’ve been thinking about change more broadly.

As an ADHD coach, I often work with clients who want to create changes in their lives.

They want to learn how to work with their brain and:

  • Release their negative self-talk and perfectionism
  • Get supportive systems and strategies in place 
  • Learn how to stick with their plans and follow through on them with confidence

They want to navigate obstacles, care for themselves throughout the process, and come out even stronger on the other side.

This is beautiful; I love these reasons.

frustrated woman at laptop

But I also know we can use the process of change against ourselves.

We hold perfectionist expectations thinking:

  • Things should go faster
  • I should be farther along
  • I should have done things differently

Sound familiar?

If so, you’re in luck.

In episode 171 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, we’re taking a deep dive into the topic of change and how to take it at your pace.

So if you’re navigating shifts in your life, tune in now to learn:

  • Why we feel pressure to make changes quickly
  • Three main ways we navigate change
  • How to slow down and enjoy the process

Wherever you are in your journey, you can begin strengthening your relationship with change today by listening above or streaming it on your favorite podcasting app:   

Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.

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Episode #171: The Process of Change & Making it Yours (Transcript)

The pocess of change and making it yours

Today I am coming at you with some thoughts and reflections on the process of change and the expectations that so many of us have for ourselves around change:

  • What we think it should look like
  • How it should feel
  • How quickly we think it should go

Now, I know so many of you identify as being high achievers or goal-getters; you’re often striving to reach that next level of growth, which can be super powerful and an incredible experience. But as I know from my own experiences, we can also use it against ourselves.

I want to really dive into this concept of change today.

I was inspired to explore this topic by all my walks with Bruno this fall.

Mother Nature & The Process of Change

woman in front of changing fall leaves

If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you know that I currently live in New England, and one of the perks of living on the East Coast is the absolute beauty of the fall trees.

The leaves are remarkable every year, and it seems that this year it’s even more so.

Truly, I don’t ever remember the leaves being this bright and this bold, and it’s so stunning every day. It honestly seems like anytime I’m outside I’m looking at a photoshopped version of trees. It’s incredible.

So I’ve been taking a lot of pictures of the bright reds and the burning oranges and rich, golden yellows, while also wishing that there weren’t power lines blocking every single shot because even amidst the beauty of fall in New England, life is still 50/50 – 50% of the time things are amazing, 50% of the time they’re not.

As I’ve been watching this gradual transformation take place from summer to autumn and eventually into winter, I’ve been thinking a lot about change more broadly.

I wanted to share this reflection with you today in hopes that it resonates with you and has you thinking more about change, your expectations around change, and the time frame in which you want that change to unfold.

Why Do We Want To Make Changes In Our Lives?

As we dive in, I first want to explore the reasons why a lot of us want to make different changes in our lives.

As a coach, I often have clients come to me because they want to create changes in their life.

They want to:

  • Learn how to work with their brain
  • Release all that negative self-talk and perfectionism
  • Put systems and strategies in place that support their brain
  • Learn how to stick to their plans and follow through on them – even when things seem boring or too much to handle because they want to be a person who can be with those emotions, take care of themselves through them, and come out on the other side even stronger.

This is beautiful; I love these reasons so much.

When you want to step into the process of change for yourself – when you’re doing this work to gain a deeper understanding of yourself, challenge yourself to grow, and surprise yourself with what you’re capable of, these are amazing reasons.

In fact, I think it’s really important for each of us to get clear on why we want to make these changes for ourselves.

What’s the motivation behind the desire for change?

Is it because you are excited about the opportunity for growth?

Is it because you’re ready to coach your brain and learn how to support yourself through the day-to-day obstacles that often leave your mind spinning? If so, I’m all in. I love it.

I encourage you to question your motivation if:

  • You think learning how to stick to a schedule will make you a better person
  • You secretly hope that following through and checking things off your to-do list will make you somehow acceptable in the eyes of others around you
  • Or if you think learning how to reduce your procrastination will be an off-ramp from ever feeling anxious or overwhelmed again

If we dig deeper into these reasons, we’ll likely find that we are hustling and pushing ourselves to the edge to try and prove our worth, forgetting that our worth is already inherent.

We’re doing it for outside reasons, rather than making it an inside job.

When we’re not making the changes for ourselves but instead because of outside reasons and “shoulds,” the process can be much more challenging.

One of the ways that I see these outside reasons present themselves, is that we’re experiencing a real sense of urgency around creating change.

We’re desperate to make these changes happen NOW. We’re frustrated when things take weeks or months to unfold.

And instead of accepting the process and taking it one step at a time, we instead want to drop what we’re doing and rush to buy the next productivity app or training program, or planner, hoping it will be the quick fix we’re desiring to help us create this change.

As a side note: Please notice how I’m using the words “we” and “us.” I definitely fall into this trap at times, too. This is a very human thing to do.

If you ever notice yourself feeling this urgency as you think about making a change, an important question to ask yourself is..

  • What’s the hurry?
  • Why do I feel the need to make this change so quickly?
  • Why does my brain think it needs to happen now?

And listen for the answer.

If making this change is inevitable… if I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this change will happen, do I need to be in such a hurry about it now? Or can we relax and actually enjoy the process? Could we drop the story on how it “should” happen and instead let it unfold exactly as it’s meant to happen?

This doesn’t mean we stop taking action to make the change. That’s not what I’m saying. We keep taking the action and trying and failing and learning and adjusting and trying again. But we do it without the agenda that everything should happen faster.

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Now, your brain might be resisting this idea, and that’s okay. But if you can feel your brain open up to it a little bit, and you maybe feel a little curiosity about the possibility of dropping the rope – of no longer needing to pull the change along – and instead letting change unfold on its own timeline, then I invite you to bring this openness into the next part of the episode where I’d love to explore the topic of change and what it means.

The Process of Change

leaves changing color

What I’ve found to be the case for myself and for many clients is that when we embark on a journey of change, whether that’s learning a new skill, or applying a new framework, or learning how to be with and process our emotions, or getting an ADHD diagnosis and working through the acceptance process, that experience of change can happen in so many different ways.

There is no one right way to go through the change process, but our brains like to think there is.

Our brains like to think that there is one “right” way to do it, and if we could only figure out what that is, then we could successfully remove the reality of being human and no longer have to feel uncomfortable feelings.

Of course, our brains don’t think those exact words, but we do think things like,

  • “If I could just get my schedule organized, then I’ll finally feel in control.”
  • “Once I find the right job, then I’ll stop dealing with this impostor syndrome and worrying about my performance… I’ll finally feel confident.”

And under all of that, we feel this sense of urgency to change NOW.

We convince ourselves that there is one right way to do the thing, and it needs to happen according to some specific timeline, and what I’ve found is that most of us believe that while there’s a right way, we’re also doing it wrong.

Meaning, we think there’s a right way to do it, and we couldn’t possibly be doing it the right way.

Certainly, we’ve got it wrong.

It’s easy for me to see this because I work with so many different people going through similar changes, which they each approach from a slightly different angle. And each one of their brains loves to tell them, “you’re doing it wrong.”


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3 Ways People Approach Change

As I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve noticed three general categories that people tend to fall into when I think about this change process.

I’m sure there are more nuanced ways of thinking about this, too, but this is what came to me as I’ve been thinking about change recently. And I’m going to talk about them briefly and then give examples of each to put them into perspective.

1. Going ALL In

The first approach to change is the person who goes all in immediately.

They don’t waver, they dive in, and they’re ready.

Then occasionally on the other side of this decision, they find their brain second guessing or regretting the decision.

Their brain might offer thoughts like, “I should have waited. I shouldn’t have been so quick to make this change. This person waited until X amount of time… I probably should have done the same.”

2. Dipping Your Feet In

The second category when it comes to making a change is the person who likes to dip their feet in.

They find themselves eager to make a change, but they’re also worried about what it might entail.

And so, they find themselves staggering both worlds, going back and forth. They’re trying to step into the change but also hold onto what’s familiar. And on the other side of this, they often find themselves feeling burnt out.

They’re burning the candle at both ends trying to live into both sides of the change and running themselves ragged.

3. Hold On ‘Til The Last Minute

The third category includes those who hold on to what’s familiar until the very last minute.

They have a vice grip on their current state.

Now part of their brain wants the change and knows that future them will be glad they did it, but they also feel reluctance around it, which might be fueled by fear, worry, doubt, etc. What they often find on the other side of this change process is a brain full of “should” and regret with thoughts like, “I shouldn’t have waited so long.” “I should have done this sooner.”

Meanwhile, all of these approaches work. Each person eventually creates the change they want. The only real “problem” is that they think they did it the wrong way.

Approaching Change: Examples

dipping feet in the water

Let me put this into perspective so you have a general idea of how this might look in real life.

Someone is contemplating leaving their full-time job and starting their own business.

Category 1: Going ALL In

Rather than waiting until their business has some predictability and regular income, they decide to go all-in immediately and make it happen. They don’t want to wait or try to juggle building their business with the demand of their day job.

Instead, they go all in without having to worry about the extra demand from their day job.

On the other side, this person – if they haven’t coached their brain – may also feel a little bit more doubt and vulnerability because they don’t have that security and certainty built up around them.

This can apply to any type of change, not necessarily a job situation.

It could be signing up for a program early and then having to wait for it to start with all the doubts swirling around.

It could be creating an ideal schedule and working to stick with it and rather than taking it step by step, you go all in scheduling every part of your day and have the discomfort of “doing it wrong” many times as you figure out what works for you.

Category 2: Dipping Your Feet In

We have a person who is dipping their toes into building their own business while keeping their full-time job.

They’re open to the change, but they’re hesitant to dive in entirely. So they’re doing the nine-to-five and moonlighting in the evenings and weekends to build their business.

They set a goal for themselves that after a certain number of months running the business, or after they reach a certain revenue consistently, they’ll be ready to make the change.

This more gradual process of change can lead to a bit of burnout as they try to keep up with both and tell themselves they need to be at 100% for both roles. Of course, this isn’t a given, but for those of us negotiating change, it can be.

Category 3: Hold On ‘Til The Last Minute

The person undergoing change might be holding on to what’s familiar until the last possible minute, in this situation, perhaps they’ve set really stringent rules for themselves before they even consider making the change.

Maybe they need to set up a large safety net of a certain amount of money, and they also need to match or surpass their current income, and they need lots of evidence – lots of different data points – to help their brain believe that this change from what’s familiar is safe.

They hold onto what’s familiar and wait for those metrics even if it means they’re holding the growth of their business back because they can’t fully invest their time and energy into supporting it. It’s only when all the metrics are met that they are willing to make the change.

Often on the other side of this change process, I will hear people say, “I should have done this sooner.” In this case, “I should have left my job sooner. I could have grown my business quicker had I had the time and energy to put into it.”

It’s possible that you hear your own thoughts around change represented in one of these categories, or maybe a handful of categories depending on the situation. I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong way.

Main takeaway: There is no one way to experience change. Instead, there is your way. There’s the way that works best for you in your current situation.

Whether you dive all in, dip your toes in and try to balance both sides, or you hold on to what’s familiar and only let go when it seems you have no other choice, there is no right way to experience change.

Especially because – in the end – we know it’s inevitable. The change will happen.

The only thing that makes the process painful is the stories we tell ourselves about how it should be different.

With each of these different approaches, we could choose to see it as happening at exactly the right time.

We could see it as the exact right time for us.

The truth is, we’re only ready to make this change once we had expanded our capacity enough to be with the inevitable discomfort that accompanies change. If we would have done it sooner, we might not have been ready.

However, we rarely decide to see it this way, right?

When It Comes To Change – Comparison is Not On Our Side

We decide ahead of time that we’re doing it wrong.

If we decide to go all-in and make the change immediately, we’ll often compare ourselves to others who took the process more slowly. We think to ourselves, “I’m so impulsive and impatient. I should have set myself up with more stability before making the change.’

If we decide to navigate both worlds, we’ll tell ourselves “I should have found a better balance as I made the shift.”

If we wait for a while, we think, “I shouldn’t have waited so long; I should be farther along; if I’d only had the courage to go all in, I’d be in a much different situation now.”

So many shoulds, right? And none of them are true.

These are stories we’re choosing to adopt and hold on to. And they are stories that can hold us back.

So what on earth does this have to do with trees and the changing leaves?

Great question. As I’ve been out walking over the past weeks taking pictures of all the different stages of change as the leaves shift from one color to the next, I see this concept represented in that process.

Some of the trees changed so early in the season. Way back in August they were already changing, and they offered this sudden bright burst of color that stood out from everyone else. And by September, all the leaves had fallen and the branches were bare, vulnerable to the elements, while the other trees stand filled with leaves.

Others had a more gradual shift. Some of the leaves held onto their green while others shifted into oranges and reds. Some even had a tie-dye look, where the individual leaf itself was in this process of change.

I know from past years there are those trees that refuse to drop their leaves until very late into the season, usually until after the snow falls. Around here it’s often the oak trees. All the other leaves have dropped, the branches stand bare, but those oak trees hold on. They’re not quite ready for the full change. It usually takes a nor’easter to blow through and knock all the leaves down.

Here’s What’s fascinating about this process of change when we look at it through the lens of trees…

As far as I know, none of those trees are comparing themselves to one another.

None of them are comparing or should-ing or wishing they would have changed differently.

The ones who boldly changed to their reds and golds early and dropped their leaves weeks – even months before the others aren’t wishing they would have held on or thinking they should have waited. And those oak trees aren’t asking themselves, why is this change taking so long? Why can’t I do this faster?

And as humans, we’re not wondering that about the trees either.

Well… I might be wondering about the oaks because it’s annoying to have to deal with the leaves after the snow. But I’m not worried about it. I don’t think something’s gone wrong.

I’m not thinking, “gosh, what’s up with that tree changing so fast? Don’t they know they might regret being the only tree with bare branches for a while?” Of course not.

We know without a shadow of a doubt that each one of these trees will go through their transformation.

Each one of these trees we’ll get to the point where they drop their leaves. And since they’re each going to reach that next stage, what if there’s no rush?

Nature doesn’t hurry. It unfolds (and changes) in its own time, right on time, every time.

  • What if the same is true for you?
  • What if your process of change is happening right on time?
  • How might it be true that your transformations and areas of growth are happening right at the moment that you’re ready to experience them?

I bet if you look back to past transformations and areas of your own growth, those markers in your journey happened right on time. They happened exactly when you were ready for them.

What would it look like to consider the area in your life that you’re focused on right now?

What would it look like to consider the area in your life that your brain sees as such an urgent situation to change – and it tells you to “get through the process faster,” or to “make sure you’re doing it “right”” – how might it be true that you’re right on track?

What if it’s unfolding right on time?

What evidence can your brain find for this possibility?

Knowing that the change is bound to happen, what if there isn’t a hurry?

To take this line of questioning even further, what if accepting your current pace, and releasing the “should” that it should be different, would not only help you open up and enjoy the entire process more but also it just might create opportunities for even greater shifts and changes when you’re ready for them.

What if…

  • If you knew you’d make these changes and see these transformations with the same level of certainty you have about the leaves changing each autumn, how might your experience be different?
  • If your goal was as good as done, and you keep taking action, but you could settle into the knowing that it takes as long as it takes and it will happen, how might you show up differently in your day-to-day?
  • How would you feel without that pressure or sense of urgency pushing you to keep seeking the next solution rather than sticking with the process you’ve already chosen?
  • What would it be like to actually enjoy this process as you experience the shifts with less urgency? How much more fun might that be?

What Areas In Life Do You Want To Change?

This week I invite you to think about the areas in your life you’re looking to change

Consider the goals you want to reach.

Think about the habits you want to establish.

What’s the reasoning behind them? Are they driven by an internal desire that lights you up? Or is it driven by “shoulds”?

think about how you tend to navigate change.

What’s your process? And is it one that you honor and appreciate? Or do you tell yourself you should be doing it differently? You should take it slower, you should take it faster, you should balance it better.

And then finally, if you knew that this process of change was inevitable. If you knew this goal was as good as done as long as you stay open and keep taking the next step forward, how would you show up to the process each day?

Would anything change?

Would you be able to release some of that sense of urgency and enjoy the process that much more? If so, I invite you to brainstorm what it might look like to accept the process.

To allow it to unfold exactly as it is, with the challenges still challenging, but also allowing the fun to emerge as well.


Want To Join Our Group Coaching Program?!

I will be opening the doors for the next cohort of We’re Busy Being Awesome in a couple of weeks!

Add your name to the waitlist so you’ll be the first to know about program dates and times, plus how you can sign up if it’s a great fit for you.


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