This article is the second of two articles giving quick hints, using the process of action research to help you design the successful integration of “new paradigms” of thought into what you consider normal. The goal is to help you see change less as trauma and more as an adventure. Action research can help you incorporate change in your life with less stress.
As I have written in other articles, don't be worried by the word research, the three steps in action research will seem familiar. Yet the unique blend of how we use discovery, action and reflection in the process makes seemingly difficult things simple, thus allowing you to move ahead in areas you previously thought impossible.
Where are you now? What is working and what needs to change? Take out a piece of paper and write these down. Then implement the change you have in mind. Two times a week take out your sheet, note the date and write out how things are going. You can expect that change takes time, is more expensive than you thought, and feels uncomfortable at first. By tracking these and other things, you will begin to notice that what may be causing discomfort now is not the same as what was causing distress a short time ago. Change requires that we work out the stress. By tracking the successes and failures that come naturally with change we can decide if we are on the right track.
To give you an example from my writing, I recently started to investigate "automatic article submitters" as a means of gaining a wide dissemination of my work with less time. The first one I purchased was consistently dreadful. Every step got harder, with less positive results, and most importantly none of the challenges were taken care of by tech support. I decided it was a waste of money and tried to return it. A failure. Luckily my second choice has gone better, and while things were not as seamless as I was led to believe, I can see when I compare my notes that this choice is working and I continue to work with them to iron out the problems.
In both cases, however, emotionally I was on firm ground because I had been keeping track of what was going on. I was not burdened with self-doubt about my decisions. Freedom comes with seeing clear evidence and moving on it. Change brings new problems, but when you measure the results of your actions, big and small, you don't ever get to feeling hopeless or overwhelmed. Challenges become just steps on the path. Once a week, or whenever you need to make a decision, you move to the last phase which is to reflect on your progress.
I started this article series by discussing whether things are ever really a paradigm shift. Did email replace calling people? Or will text replace email? No, what happens is that we learn how to use the new idea and, as we do, we organize what skills, techniques, or technologies we will use in different circumstances. Regular reflective practice will save you more time than it costs you because you will feel solid and comfortable with your decisions. No reason to worry about whether or not what you are doing is the right move if and when you are basing your ideas on what has worked in the past.
I recommend taking fifteen minutes once a week to reflect on changes you are making. The first step is to look over any notes you have taken about the changes you are making in your life. Then sit back and consider how it is going, write a few lines about what you like and what you find challenging. Then let it go until the next week.
Discovery, measurable action and reflection: I guarantee that with these three simple steps you will find that you quickly and easily incorporate changes in your life with less stress than you previously may have felt.