Five Steps on the Path of Real Life Change

People often claim they want to change their lives, but it is scary to confront real issues. It takes courage and hard work. It also takes letting go of outdated beliefs.

So, many people choose to use band-aids instead. Band-aids can be useful for cuts, but not for surgery. And then these same people find themselves back in the same place again.

It takes effort to really change your life.

Overcoming Fear

It’s scary to change yourself, but often it is scarier to remain on the same course. 

We are attached to our habits, and our beliefs and our ways of thinking.  An addict will continue their addiction even though part of them knows it’s killing them. And it will kill them. 

Maybe your situation is a few steps down from being a drunk on Skid Row. Maybe you find yourself in a place you don’t want to be, although you are not actively self-destructing.  None the less, you are dissatisfied with your life. There is more, but where is it?

“And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run. You missed the starting gun.” lamented Pink Floyd in the song “Time.”

Time relentlessly marches on, and your reflection in the mirror is getting older. You still haven’t made the changes you have been thinking about for so long.

You can change your life for the better, but you have to choose to do it. No one will do it for you. Anything this is possible, but you have to take action.

Fear is most likely blocking your path. The best way to deal with fear is to confront it head on.

Everyone has fear. It all depends how you deal with it. Fear is toxic and paralyzing but you have a choice. You can let the fear control you, or you can accept that you have the fear and move forward anyway. 

We fear what we don’t know. That is why so many people engage in self-destructing or self-defeating behaviors -- their minds prefer familiar thoughts over new ones, even if the old thoughts keep them in hell.

The Process of Change

To accomplish anything, we need to have a plan to give us focus.

Here is an outline of steps to help guide you on the path of positive change. 

  • Awareness and acceptance
  • Deciding and committing to change
  • Having intentions and goals, and making a plan
  • Taking action
  • Assessment and modification

Awareness and Acceptance

The first step is clearly and honestly looking at your situation and accepting what is. Look at the world the way that it is, not the way that you want it to be. Only then can you assess what is possible to change. You can't make the sun rise in the west, but there are a lot of things you can do.

This is not an easy step. Denial is a psychological state where you don’t want to see what actually a happening. The drunk is the last person to know he is a drunk.

We don’t want to look at our faults honestly. Our egos hate this. It takes great courage to do so.  When honestly assessing your situation, do so without passing judgement. Passing judgement will start a cascading effect that will keep you locked in your current pattern.

What is is. Look at it as such and then move on.

Deciding and Committing to Change

Once you have honestly and clearly seen yourself and your situation, you have to decide if you really want to change and then fully commit to it. 

“Well, I kind of think that I might want to change.” isn’t going to cut it.

You really have to want it. To make significant life changes, many things in your life will be upended. You might be getting rid of people in your life, especially the ones you enable you or who are toxic. You will be challenging deeply held beliefs, habits and thought patterns. You will be confronting your ego, which likes things just the way they are. 

Once you fully commit though, you will find that things will begin to fall into place as they never did before. Your path will open up in front of you and you will begin to see with clarity. Your path may be challenging, but things of real value in life are well worth working hard for. 

Having Intentions and Goals, and Making a Plan

An intention is the aim that guides actions. It is what you want to happen. You have to know what you want before you can get it. 

Decide what it is that you want in your life. Keep it simple and positive. Write it down and post it where you can see it. This is your destination. All paths lead to here.

You can change and modify your intention as you go along. As you change, so will your thoughts, beliefs and desires. This will affect which path you want to take.

Since our thoughts create our reality, it is important to continually remind ourselves of our intentions, because all of the old habits will retake power if we let them. This helps keep us on track.

Once you have decided what you want, you have to draw out a map of how to get there. Goals and plans are very important. It is great to have a wonderful intention -- but you need goals and plans to get you from Point A to Point Z. Without goals and plans, your energy has no focus and nothing gets accomplished.

Taking Action

Nothing happens if you don’t take action. You can read about self improvement forever, but if your don’t get off of your butt and do something, you will be stuck in the same place forever.

Inertia is a law of nature at states that nothing moves unless something moves it. That means it takes a lot of energy to get anything moving, because it naturally doesn’t want to move.

So, you have to find the energy inside of yourself to move yourself. If you have been stuck for a while, then it might take a lot of energy. Remember, you have to do it. Give it a big push.

Assessment and Modification

In the final movie of the series, Harry Potter asks his friends: “When have any of our plans ever worked?”

He was right. None of them worked as they planned, yet in the end, Harry and his friends were successful. Why? One reason is that they always made a plan and took action upon it. They had to have a plan because they had to have a direction in which to move. When one plan didn’t work out quite the way they thought, they changed their plans. But they were always taking action. Harry didn’t defeat He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named by sitting in his room. 

Plans rarely work as planned. Maybe it is bad plan, or maybe part of the plan is weak, or maybe the circumstances have changed. Something unexpected always happens. This is the nature of life.

It is important, then, to repeatedly reassess your plans and actions in regards to your intentions. Are you headed in the right direction? Are things working? Do you see positive results? If not, make changes as you see fit.

The Path of Least Resistance

You were born into this world for a reason. There was a path laid out for you when you were born. In is very common to sidetracked from this path. It is the nature of being human. 

Yet, when we do find ourselves on our path, the Universe helps guide us on our way. Things magically fall into place. Coincidences occur. You meet the right person at just the right time for you to get that perfect job that leads you to the love of your life. (This is what happened to me).

When you are not on the right path, the Universe puts up roadblocks. You feel like you are continually running into brick walls. That is the sign to change tack.

Keep moving. Where you want to go and where you need to go may not be the same thing. Allow life to take you where you need to go. When that little voice in your head tells you to turn left when your plan tells you to turn right, listen to it and turn left. You’ll be surprised how this works.

Life is full of both suffering and magic. You create your magic by how you think and how you act, and that is also the way that you deal with your suffering. 

Baby Steps

Don’t try to change everything at once. You will only set yourself up for failure. Try, instead, to make small changes everyday.  Just like a toddler slowly learns to walk, you will fall down a few times before you get the hang of it. The amazing sprinter Usain Bolt had to learn how to walk before he learned how to run.

Imagine how your life will be in one year if you take these small, conscious steps. Life is the long haul.

Ask For Help

Making great change is not easy, and most likely you can’t do it on your own. If you are stuck in old beliefs, old habits, old addictions and old thought patterns -- it is really difficult to see those things by yourself. You can’t see the whole forest when you are standing among the trees.

Try to find someone to help you. I went to Alcoholic Anonymous meetings when I decided to quit drinking. I could have never done that by myself. I have been sober for 21 years, and my life is light years away from what it used to be.

Find someone or some organization that works for you. Maybe it is a therapist. Maybe it is a religious person, like a priest or a rabbi. Maybe it is a support group.

If the person or group doesn't work out well for you, then find another until you find one that you are comfortable with -- but be aware that your ego might be sabotaging you instead of you instead of there being a problem with the quality of your helper. 

I encourage you to contact me. I work with people to help them make these sorts of changes in their lives. My sessions are held either online via Skype, or face to face here in Kyoto, Japan, where I live. Contact me here to set up a time to for a free initial meeting to find out if my services will help you. 

Remember, you can change your life for the better, but you have to choose to do it. No one else will do it for you.

When in doubt, be kind.


Paul Crouse

Paul Crouse is a spiritual teacher and advisor, life coach, writer, speaker and photographer based in Kyoto, Japan. He helps people who consciously want to change their lives for the better. He helps people build a strong inner foundation, while helping them to clarify and achieve their goals. He works with people worldwide via video calling or face-to-face in Kyoto. He also leads workshops and seminars, both online and in person, for organizations and companies.