Change is not easy and it can be painful. This makes it hard for some people to anticipate and embrace the thought of change before it comes.

In a coaching session, one of my clients asked, “What happens when the thought of change scares you so much that you can’t take action on your goals?”

She was a high achiever and had several personal, professional, and business achievements. But for some reason, there were some goals that suddenly scared her. She felt stuck and couldn’t move forward on these goals, no matter how hard she tried.

I too have been a victim of fear of change. There was a time when taking action was a huge challenge. The breakthrough came when I learned to anticipate change and welcome it, despite my fears.

In this article, I share some simple tactics you can use within the next week, or possibly this month, to anticipate change and growth in your life and/or business.

4 Strategies That Help Prepare for Positive Change and Growth

1. Conduct a SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

While most people are conversant with SWOT at the workplace or in business, it never occurs to them to do a personal SWOT. I’ve also found that professionals who get into business, often overlook the need for a SWOT analysis before startup.

Conduct a SWOT each year so that you:

  • Identify your personal, professional or business strengths and weaknesses.
  • Have an idea of the trends in your industry.
  • Get to know the potential you have for growth.
  • Identify the opportunities in the marketplace and new ones you can venture into.
  • Identify potential pitfalls you may encounter in the short and long term (threats).

Once you have this information, it will give you a clearer idea of where you stand in the marketplace and your potential (or lack of potential) for positive growth. You can then prepare for change based on this information and step forward boldly once you have an action plan.

Check out these articles for more tips and resources:

2. Listen to the people around you

People are always telling you what they need from you or your business. But sometimes you can’t hear them because you’re focused on what you think they want.

You must learn to listen to your customers, prospects, employees, and close contacts. For example, if you find that many people are asking for or complaining about something, this is useful feedback for you.

Your employees are also sources of information. Employees are not as emotionally invested in the business as you are so they can be more objective than you. They could also be receiving a lot of feedback from your customers, but may not be passing this information to you.

Encourage your employees to share their concerns, ideas, and observations. Involve them in planning and brainstorming as much as you can, even if you are the final decision-maker.

3. Commit to improvement

Actively seek growth every year. Commit to Constant and Never-Ending Improvement so that you make a massive change in at least one area of your personal life and one area of your business each year.

Explore life beyond your comfort zone and venture into areas that scare you. Be willing to not know how everything will pan out as you grow.

Don’t let fear of failure hold you back from change and growth. Personally, I used to fear failure. While I still don’t like failing, I’ve changed from looking at failure as a bad thing to taking the lessons I gain in the process and turning them into learning experiences.

Similarly, when you evaluate your personal and business growth, I’m sure you’ll identify changes you made as a result of failure. When you commit to improvement, you’ll catch these important lessons in time and use them as springboards to success.

4. Use a longer planning horizon

One thing that has helped me actively seek change is working with 3-year plans. Previously, I used 7-year masterplans, but I found them tedious to create, implement and track.

Another benefit of 3-year planning is that it’s just far off into the horizon to give you a stretch, but still near enough for you to see results and make changes.

Working through two 3-year planning cycles is enough time to become an expert and achieve your goals.

Within this time, you can:

  • Start and develop and multi-million dollar (or shilling) business.
  • Master any language.
  • Master a martial art.
  • Get healthy.
  • Become an expert in your career or profession (you can move from a bachelor’s degree to a PhD in 6-7 years).
  • Meet and marry your ideal partner, and start your family (possibly having 2-3 children…or more if you get multiples).

I can easily track my achievements through this process, including the following:

  • Start a coaching business: Goal set for 2012 and achieved in February 2011.
  • Write and sell my first book by July 2017: Achieved in December 2014 when I turned my business startup coaching program into an eBook that sold online for years.
  • Get international certification as a coach by December 2017: Achieved in June 2011 when I received international certification in Neuro-Linguistics Programming (NLP). I also got life coach certification in September 2016. So I got 2 certifications way ahead of the planned deadline.
  • Scale my coaching business to the next level: Goal set for 2020 and achieved in October 2019 when I co-founded Biashara 360 with other coaches.
  • Set up a community of women entrepreneurs that includes membership and mastermind: Goal set for 2022 and achieved in 2020.
  • Start coaching female founders of successful businesses: Goal set for 2022 and achieved in 2019.

In the process of working on these goals, I also improved my blogging and coaching skills and now work with the kind of clients I expected to have 3 to 5 years in the future.

I’ve also had some major failures over the years, some of which would have broken me in the past.

For example, when Biashara 360 fell apart within 6 months post-startup, I almost gave up on owning a coaching business. Having a longer-term vision helped in the recovery process, even as I worked with experts to rebuild the business.

3-year plans are powerful tools and they provide immense value for change and growth. I now teach my goal-setting process to clients and host a Goal Setting Masterclass at least once a year.

Anticipating change during and after the COVID-19 pandemic

One of the most recent examples of preparing for change happened in 2020. To start with, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in January 2020 and had to make massive changes in the way I live and work.

Then, just as I was getting used to this new lifestyle, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. It was tough having to focus on helping people while also worrying about my own health and that of my family.

As soon as the pandemic was declared, I saw change coming and realized that life will never be the same again. This realization helped me:

  • Pivot on personal and business plans very fast: I threw out my plan and started from scratch with an agile plan that could be easily changed as things shifted on the ground.
  • Work with clients to help them move their businesses online: I had clients who needed to move their coaching, training and consulting businesses online immediately. They had never worked online and it was interesting seeing them embrace this new way of working and get amazing results.
  • Homeschooling: I was already exploring homeschooling my children so this wasn’t such a tough thing.
  • Start using video: Much as I had avoided video in the past, there was no getting out of it this time.
  • Set up a membership community: I had always wanted to set up an online community. The pandemic made it possible to launch Elevate Community.
  • Start the shift from 1-1 coaching to group coaching: I had avoided this for years and finally got it done.
  • Test new products: This period was a very prolific one as I tested masterclasses, webinars, e-courses and coaching programs.
  • …and so much more.

Some of these changes were scary but since I had foreseen that they were needed, the process of change wasn’t as hard as I expected.

I did however procrastinate on some changes I needed to make. One of these was setting up e-courses. I’m now working on turning all my coaching programs into e-courses because that is where the world is shifting to.

Are you ready for change and growth?

As I noted at the beginning of this article, change never comes easy. We also naturally avoid it or try to run away from it.

However, it is possible to actually anticipate, embrace and enjoy the process of change. Using one or more of the 4 strategies shared here can help you do that.

Over to you…

  • Looking at your life and business today, what will you do to anticipate change and growth this year?
  • Which of the 4 strategies makes the most sense to start implementing today?
  • If you already have a business, will you take the time to conduct a thorough SWOT analysis so that you can improve your market positioning?

Feel free to share your answers and experience with change in the Comments below.

(Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash )

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