Change. That one word strikes fear into the hearts and minds of many people, myself included. In fact, I’m one of those people for whom change is often combined with paralyzing fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of making it worse, but also fear of making it better. It seems there are always unintended consequences to change.
In 2010, I made the word change into a friend. Well, maybe not a friend. Perhaps an acquaintance is a better description. Change appeared on my doorstep one day, and I didn’t slam the door and kick in the deadbolt as I usually did. I actually invited change into my cozy foyer and offered it a cup of tea. It stayed for a while, and I realized, despite my trepidation, that I kind of liked it.
I wish I’d known about the “Five Essential Conditions For Change” last summer when I invited change into my life. Last night I attended a fascinating seminar by Dr. Paul Haefner of Riding Far LLC on “The New Power of Positive Thinking,” held at River Farm Stable in Leesburg, Virginia. He outlined these five essentials to change within his presentation, which he said “have the potential to dramatically alter your life.” If you want to embrace change and succeed in the transition, here are your guideposts:
1) Unequivocal Desire (you must absolutely want to change)
2) Stated In The Positive (you must think: I want to become a more supple rider, not I want to lose my stiffness)
3) Contextual/Behavioral (you must be very specific: I want to improve my accuracy in finding distances, not I want to be a better rider)
4) Self Initiated/Maintained (must change yourself and not rely on others to change you)
5) Future Oriented (cannot change the past so focus solely on the future)
When putting these five conditions into practice, Dr. Haefner says it’s all about repetition. There’s a fundamental change process he outlined, but the bottom line is that you must reinforce and anchor each of these steps within yourself. The magic number is 5. With five repetitions, change begins to sink in and becomes second nature in your life. Dressage rider and trainer Francie Dougherty (right) shared her thoughts on the change in her life she’d like to initiate—returning to the Grand Prix ring after a long absence. Dr. Haefner took her step-by-step through the process, including visualization exercises, which provided an intriguing real-world example.
Now that change has been broken down into these essential elements, it doesn’t seem nearly as intimidating. In fact, I better understand how change may be used as a valuable tool in creating, improving and evolving in life rather than something to avoid. OK, that front door is wide open now!