by Elaine Cercado
This article was first published last November 2014 and its timeless content has been has been made into an EMPOWER Bites 7 video last 19 August 2020.
The COVID 19 pandemic has changed our lives. The crisis has also forced us to make tough choices – from how to set up our homes to work remotely, to how to socialise with our friends and loved ones, to what do we do to sustain our businesses and operations in the new normal, and to what do we make of our future lives.
In this Empower Bites, I look back to a personal guide I used several years ago, on making life choices and changes, based on what I’ve experienced and learned in the past. Allow me to share what I call the “5Cs of a Personal Change Journey.”
We all make choices in life. Oftentimes, a choice means change, and a change is not always easy. When I look back at the choices and changes I made during the first half of my life journey, be it professionally or personally, there were distinct phases and challenges I went through. I wish I knew these beforehand so I would have equipped and prepared myself better. On the other hand, I was more open-minded, bolder, more adventurous and fearless when I was younger. Combining the boldness of youth and the wisdom of age is a formula that can make the journey through life’s choices and changes more enjoyable. The challenges become positively exciting, and the sense of fulfillment becomes deeper.
I have always advocated discovering one’s purpose by defining passion, mission and vision in life. Once purpose is clear, priorities become clear. Decisions and actions start to align with one’s purpose. In most cases though, the discovery is not an overnight activity but a long process. Some take half their lifetime to figure out their purpose. Some never get to discover their life purpose. Some confuse their purpose with something else like job position or “to do” list. It is important to have a clearly defined mission and vision in life as this steadily anchors one’s life to what matters most.
In a world where success is usually measured by the level of power and success one has, living one’s beliefs and values is challenging. There are expectations we all have to live up to – from our parents’ expectations for us to finish degrees that bring bright financial prospects; to our employers’ expectations to meet the targets; and to the society’s expectations to follow certain norms or standards. Meeting these expectations stress many of us. Yet once life purpose is clearly defined, one lives with passion and conviction, which are manifested in decisions and actions that are aligned with one’s core values. This alignment makes one’s life simpler, less stressed and happier.
Discovering one’s purpose and pursuing it with conviction are just the initial steps. The next challenge is to transform the vision into reality. Such transformation requires specific actions and varied resources to be executed over a period of time. There are times when things don’t happen as planned and when results don’t meet the goals. A Latin writer, Publilius Syrus, has written, “There is no fruit which is not bitter before it is ripe.” During a bitter phase of change, faith is shaken and resilience is tested. When this happens, ask and answer the questions “What is my compelling reason for this choice or change?” and “If I don’t choose or change, will I be satisfied with the status quo?”
There are days when it just does not feel right. Questions like “Have I chosen wisely?” or “Am I on the right track?” arise. Frustrations or disappointments might amplify this feeling. To sustain the change, one needs courage. According to Mary Anne Radmacher, “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow.” Take the time to reflect on the journey. Be flexible and forgiving – yet stay firmly anchored to the core and conviction.
Small steps and victories build confidence. Continuous adjustments and improvements raise the bar. Far-reaching actions are taken boldly. Over time, the new path becomes the way of life. Eventually, the new becomes the old and the comfort zone, where the learning and growth stop. To avoid this trap, one has to continuously challenge self and set another milestone to reach. Go back and journey through the entire process once more. To endure this stretch, a strong mindset for lifelong learning and openness to constant change are needed.
Continuously reinforce the 5C’s within – Core, Conviction, Change, Courage and Confidence – and journey through life’s choices and changes happily and successfully!
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