The Four Stages of Change

Awareness – Knowing that you need to make a change is the first step. Decide that a certain activity or behavior no longer serves you. Change comes by choice or force. You can quit a job or get fired. Look into the future and see what your life will look like if you don’t change and what it will look like with your new behaviors. Gain leverage over yourself and your thoughts. Everything you need is within you. You have the power.


Eliminating– Stop doing the negative behavior. Don’t “try” to change, make a conscientious decision to change, be definite and be certain. Stop buying unhealthy food and no more drive-thru or eliminate toxic people. Continually remind yourself that you deserve a better life. You are a good person and demand more from life. One door must close before another opens. You can’t continue to add to your day without something else being eliminated. Delegate or eliminate mundane tasks that take up your time. Streamline and group tasks together so you only need to think about them weekly or monthly. Be extremely aware of how you spend your precious time.


Creating New – Replace old activities or behaviors with new fun positive ones. It takes 21 days to create a habit. If your daily routine was to come home, pour a drink and plop down in front of the TV after work to de-stress, stop and replace it with driving directly to a park or water and enjoying nature for 15 minutes or hit the gym, go for a bike ride, take a class or come home, turn on your favorite music, light candles, open the blinds and work on mini projects you have been meaning to get to. In the beginning, it will feel strange and you won’t “want to” do it, but do it anyway. Push yourself.


Flying – Once you start feeling the benefits, you will want more good feelings. Use your new energy and excitement to look at other areas of your life that need a boost. Positive attracts positive. Keep the momentum going. If you have a partner that isn’t supporting you, make the changes anyway. You are doing it for you! When you change, the other must react. Be aware when the other is being negative and know that it is not about you, it is about their own insecurities. When you become a better, happier, more joyful you, the other will certainly take notice and hopefully, will then want to participate.

Quality vs. Quantity

Do you feel like your life is spinning out of control and you are being buried under stuff with an unmanageable schedule that has you running from dawn until midnight? STOP, and re-evaluate. This is no way to live. Yes, we are fortunate to live in a society where we can have anything all the time, but too many choices create a different problem. Too much, too many and too often becomes what we don’t want.

Less is more. Less means doing less meaningless tasks and focusing more on things of greater personal importance. Focus on being productive, not busy. Busyness is a trick of the ego that makes you feel important but holds no real value. Judge a successful day by results, not time spent.

When I first year I lived in Italy, I was so impressed that people seemed to have all the time in the world to chat with a customer or say hello to a friend they met in the street. No one was rushing around, tapping their foot in aggravation or shouting into a blue tooth while walking down the street. I quickly learned the “one thing a day rule.” Getting one thing accomplished a day was enough. So choose what will improve the quality of your life and enjoy the process of doing it. Let all the other things fall away as unimportant.

For example, the evening meal IS the event. It is not something we quickly get through to go on to do something else. There is nothing else to do. Without TV or going out to an evening meeting or errand, we enjoy a leisure meal, letting the food digest before we decide if we should have another serving. We put something on our plate and enjoy it, really tasting the flavors. We eat lunch and dinner together, sitting at the table with a table cloth and wine. At first, I was scolded for jumping up to quickly and clearing the plates. Where was I going in such a rush?

In Italy, we enjoy amazing food because we follow the rhythm of the seasons. In summer, we have beautiful fresh vegetables from the garden, eagerly waiting for the first zucchini and beans and eat them all summer long until we don’t want to see another tomato or eggplant. By fall, we are ready for the next season’s food, such a polenta or squash. In winter, we start each meal with hot steaming broth with tiny bits of pasta and finish with different types of cheese. But come spring, we are out preparing the garden again. We don’t eat foreign grown foods or have much ethnic cuisine. We shop everyday and have small mini refrigerators. Quality and freshness are more important than quantity and exoticness.

Same goes with clothing. Europeans don’t have huge wardrobes, just a few pieces of expensive, high quality clothing that are stylish and in fashion and they wear them all the time, then when the new season comes, they add just a few pieces. We wear linen in the summers to stay cool and classic cashmere or wool in winters. A typical closet is a wooden armoire- a piece of furniture, not a walk in closet. Less quantity, high quality.

Building Your Life Around a Vision vs Circumstance

Are you living your life around a vision of how you want things to turn out? Or are you letting the tides of circumstances take you where they will? Just remember what Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome.” If you are allowing circumstance and happenstance to dictate your next moves, you might want to start the envisioning process by honoring your younger self. Thinking back to the dreams or visions you had in your earlier years, of what your life was going to look like. Is this what your life looks like now?


As years go by, life-changing events happen and our lives are shaped to some extent by the scrapes, cuts and detours life throws at us, and over which we may have little control. Nonetheless, each day, we have the choice to either live life or “let life live us.” For myself, I do sometimes feel like a pinball in an arcade game, bouncing off one obstacle another with all the bells and whistles going off. We can’t always stop “life’s events” but we can choose how we react to them. At the least, when things get really scary, we can not let the events consume us until peace can be restored again.


Whoever said, “You made your bed, now lay in it” should be bound and gagged. Of course we have the right to change our minds along the way. And yes, we must live with the consequences of our actions, but any rut you get into, you can get out of. Imagine you are going down the river. You might have chosen to use the rudder to guide your way or you might have decided to just drift for a while. But let’s say you get washed into a little side tributary until it dead-ends. Here is a moment to consider: would you sit there in the stagnant water and wait (perhaps forever) for the tide to turn, or do you turn around and paddle your way back to the main stream? That’s what I am asking you to do, right now: pick up your paddle and get back in the main stream of the life you truly want, and really can be living.


When you hold the vision of your dream lifestyle in your mind, you will subconsciously make changes to move in that direction and the universal laws of attraction will support you. Here is one small example: let’s say you strive for a more peaceful, calming home life. Get in action and set the stage when you first come home. Use your five senses. Set the lighting- soothing or cheerful, choose the music- upbeat or classical, light fragrant candles, pop some cool grapes in your mouth or start simmering some soup, then put out a bowl of colorful fruit. De-clutter to prevent distractions that consume attention and dilutes your focus. Create the vision, don’t let circumstances take over.


I find that limiting the media I let into my world helps me to stay positive. Choose a TV show that serves you with knowledge or appreciation rather than numbing your mind. Similarly with magazines, newspapers and books. Choose reading materials that allow you to learn something which brings you closer to your vision. Spend “down time” outside in nature, just observing, breathing and envisioning your perfect new life.


I am saying we, you and I, need NOT be productive all the time. I am suggesting you practice energy vs mere time management. Know yourself. If you are especially productive in the morning, make this your time to create. Choose to do mindless activities, such as responding to email, cleaning or shopping, later in the day. Break up the day. Build in “me time” to do nothing but appreciate all the good in your life, walk around the block for 15 minutes or sit on the porch and enjoy a refreshing drink. Choose wisely. Awareness of what you want is the first step; inspired action is the second.