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The Winding Path Of Change

Linda-Ann Stewart

Becky spent months trying to break up with her boyfriend. Although she knew he wasn't right for her, he'd be so sweet and accommodating when she'd try to split up that she'd slip back into the relationship.

Things would be fine for a few days, then something would happen and she'd be reminded why she needed to move on. And the process would start all over again. Each time she repeated the cycle, it got more apparent why the relationship wasn't going to last long term and she discovered more about herself.

Change is like that. It rarely tracks in a straight line. Whether you're progressing in your career, or making personal changes, you'll probably take detours and side trips along the way. It may feel like you're going backwards for a while, and you could get discouraged. Fear not, you'll soon be moving forward again.

Setbacks are part of the process. In a recession, businesses have to pull back and consolidate, strengthening their financial positions. In this recent recession, stores have had fewer products, shorter hours, and less staff. They have to let go of less profitable merchandise to focus on goods that are more popular.

Businesses that are creative and innovative thrive when the economy gets better. Retreating to stabilize your financial structure means you'll be better prepared when the time comes to expand.

The same is true of personal development. Generally, when making changes, you take two steps forward, then one back. For instance, it takes a smoker an average of four attempts to quit before they succeed. Each time, they discover more about their triggers and strategies that work for them. Any kind of improvement goes through the same type of learning curve.

When you diet, your body can get stuck at a particular weight. If this happens you may lose heart and give up. It's simply getting adjusted to a new set point. Your body is adapting to being lighter, and once it does, you'll quickly drop a few more pounds.

Even in your professional life, you probably won't have a straight path to the next level. You may move laterally for awhile, gaining more experience and developing your abilities. This gives you a better track record and stronger background for when you are promoted.

The reason for this winding path is that the subconscious doesn't like change. It figures that your old beliefs, attitudes and behaviors have served you well. For your subconscious to establish a different direction, you need to be persistent. When you're dedicated to making a change, this reassures your inner mind that you consider the new area suitable. Then, your subconscious needs to take its time getting used to the fact that you're in strange territory, and make sure that it's safe to be there. Once it's gotten comfortable, it'll allow you to cover more unknown ground.

If you change too much, too fast, without this process, you won't have a firm enough foundation when the winds of stress blow. Stress can overwhelm any new attitude or behavior, and cause you to go back to what's most familiar. The subconscious will channel its resources to deal with the crisis, rather than direct them to altering your life.

Also, too much change at any time is stressful in itself. In this case, too many adjustments would overwhelm the subconscious and it would sabotage any progress. Even though it may be frustrating, taking a step back to consolidate your gains actually helps you in the long run and supports eventual success.

Each time Becky stepped back into the relationship, she added to her knowledge and wisdom. When she'd move away from it, she integrated more of what she'd learned. Finally, when she realized that he wasn't ever going to be different, she made the final break.

If she'd left before she'd assimilated all that she'd discovered, she would probably have recreated the same situation in another relationship. Instead, by allowing the natural course to play out, she ascertained which characteristics to avoid in a partner, and what ones to seek.

When you feel like you're stalled, or have even taken a step back, realize that it's part of the process of change. It gives you more wisdom, strength, and understanding for when you begin moving forward again. When you retreat and regroup, integrate and consolidate, it means you ultimately advance further and faster.

Copyright © 2009-2023 Linda Ann Stewart
All Rights Reserved

As a focus coach, hypnotherapist, and speaker, Linda-Ann Stewart motivates women to focus and transform their business through deliberate actions that break through distraction and overwhelm to greater success, freedom, wellbeing and prosperity. Watch her FREE training video on Set Your Course to Success: 4 steps to strategically achieve your goals with confidence and ease. Register for the video and accompanying action planning guide at You can contact her at or 928-600-0452.


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