Preparation

Posted on September 16, 2011

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Once you’ve identified and dissolved some of your hindering beliefs, you are now ready to move into the third stage of change-Preparation. This is one of the most important stages. Adequate and proper preparation for any kind of change is what’s needed to succeed. And the converse is true as well. If you don’t prepare, if you don’t get the information, resources, motivation and support that you need to change, you will have a hard time reaching your goal.

However, this is also the stage where many people get stuck. The stage that follows Preparation is Action. And  many people are scared of taking action.

What I’ve noticed is that some people will, consciously or unconsciously, find reasons to stay in the Preparation Stage because they are deeply afraid of what will happen when they move into Action. And they probably have a good reason to be, a least a little, frightened of moving forward.

Once you start consciously changing one part of your life, the rest of your life will change as well. Others around you most likely will have to change in some regard to relate to the new you. This process can be full of obstacles, change-back attacks, rejection and self-doubt. The Action stage is not easy.

So in order to avoid the potential unpleasant aspects of the action stage, some people deliberately find excuses to stay in the Preparation Stage. They will spend years gathering resources and information and will never do anything with it. Staying in the Preparation Stage for too long is a subconscious form of self-sabotage. 

Then there are those who do not spend enough time in the Preparation Stage and jump straight into the Action Stage. Without planning appropriately, without coming up with needed information and resources, these people also set themselves up for failure. By jumping straight into action without getting what they need first, they’ve set themselves up for insurmountable obstacles. This is a different, but similar form of self-sabotage. 

If you know that you are a person who spends too much or too little time in the Preparation Stage, I would highly advise you to find a good coach or therapist and go back to Pre-Contemplation and Contemplation. There are some subconscious beliefs that are encouraging these self-sabotaging behaviors and you’ll need an unbiased, objective professional to help you dig them out and dissolve them. 

But if you’ve already done your work and you’re really ready to move forward in this stage, I’d like to share a tool with you that I teach in many of my coaching classes. I call this tool “Resource Analysis.” Keeping in mind that even the best-laid plans are prone to drastic changes once you try to put them into action, it always helps to have an outline of how you intend to proceed with a change. This tool helps you figure out what you already possess so that you can analyze what you need to move into the next stage.  

Resource Analysis Tool

-Divide a piece of paper into two columns, labeling one column “Resources I Have” and another “Resources I Need.” 

*Resources include (but are not limited to) books and other sources of information, research articles, networking connections, people with experience reaching this goal, money, personality traits, motivating friends, coaching tools. 

-Think deeply about the change you’d like to make. Now, brainstorm all of the resources that you already have that can help you to meet this goal. 

Maybe you want to quit your day job as an accountant in order to be a professional stand-up comedian. This probably means that you have a good sense of humor. Maybe you even have a friend who knows the owner of a nearby comedy club. You may even have one humorous stand-up skit. These are all resources that you already possess, so you would put them into the “Resources I Have”  column. 

-Now think about what you still need to obtain in order to reach your goal. Put these resources in the “Resources Needed” column.

If we’re sticking with the stand-up comedian example, maybe one resource you need is more jokes and skits. Maybe you’re afraid of getting up on a stage and some practice with a Toast Masters group could help you. You may need money if you plan to quit your job and if you’re not sure how much comedians actually make their first few years, doing some research and talking to those in the field would be a good resource to have. These are all resources you need before you move into the stage of Action. 

-Once you’ve done a thorough Resource Analysis, you can then make a plan to get what you need. If you need information, you can get books, internet research and interviews with people to learn what you need to know. If you need money, you’ll want to come up with a plan to save money. If you need motivation or inspiration, you may want to hire a coach or find a mentor. 

When you’ve analyzed your resources, you are then able to get what you need. And when you get what you need, you are then able to move into Action.