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The heart and soul of personal change

By Ruth Tearle

When thinking about a change of career such as starting our own business, we often ask questions about how to handle the change.

These questions point to the head, heart & soul of personal change.

  • The head: What you should do. This is often known as ‘rational intelligence’. (Click here to go to the article on how to plan your change)
  • The heart: How you and others will feel. This is known as emotional intelligence.
  • The Soul: Accessing your inner wisdom. Becoming yourself. This is often called spiritual intelligence.

Being able to use the three personal management skills of rational, emotional and spiritual intelligence enhance your ability to master change successfully. This article deals with the heart and soul of change. (Emotional and spiritual intelligence.)

The heart: How you and others will feel.


The most difficult part of any change is coping with the feelings - both our own feelings, and those of other people around us who are affected by our change. Because when we change, we force both ourselves and others around us to ‘let go of control’ and leap into a vacuum of the unknown. The more dramatic the change is, the greater the leap of faith we expect ourselves (and others close to us) to make.

Habit and fear. To manage change we need to master two powerful adversaries: ‘habit’ and ‘fear’.


Habit is what we do automatically, without awareness.

Any change, requires us to change habits. Changing a habit means we can no longer act ‘automatically’. We have to stop, become aware of what we are doing, compare this to what we need to be doing in terms of achieving our dream, and make an active choice. It takes 21 times of practicing a new way, to let go of an old habit and create a new one. This takes time and energy.

Fear is defined as ‘ a feeling of anxiety and agitation caused by the presence or nearness of danger.’ The best way to cope with fear, is to remove the perceived danger.

Reduce risk

Reduce risk and therefore fear, by following these principles:

  • Start small. Test out your ideas. Experiment. Risk only what you can afford to lose without stress.
  • Get more information. Do your homework. Learn from others who have achieved what you want to achieve. Find out what risks they took. Ask them what they’d do differently this time. Test the market before investing in a new product.
  • Create a bridge between the old and the new, based on limiting your risk. For example if you wanted to start your own business you could reduce your risk by:
    • Saving money while you are employed. Wait until you can live for 6 - 8 months without earning, before leaving your current employment.
    • Work on your marketing while you are employed. Develop your brochures, your websites and your products.
    • When you go off on your own, grow slowly. Do a small pilot. With the money you earn from your pilot, fund your next step. Grow only when you have the time and money to grow.
    • Don’t listen to people that preach ‘instant success’. Follow the 10 000 rule. It takes 10 000 hours to master anything. From getting fit, losing weight, to changing a career or starting a business. So be patient with yourself.

Understand feelings

Remember it is not only you, who is affected by a change you make. Others around you will also be forced to experience the 4 emotional stages of change. These are:

  • Control. This is when we feel confident and we operate mainly on habit. The first challenge we and our family/friends will face is the willingness to let go of our old habits.
  • Resistance: It takes effort to change a habit. We have to stop and think, compare what we are doing, to what we should be doing. This makes us feel insecure, and frustrated at times. It is much easier to go back to acting automatically. And both we, and the people around us will be tempted to ‘go back’. to what we feel comfortable with. At this stage the challenge is to accept that it is okay to feel frustrated and to lack confidence, and to remind ourselves that as we keep practicing the new way, it will get easier. Remember it takes 21 times of practicing a new habit, before we will feel okay about letting go of an old habit.
  • Chaos. When learning something new, we all experience a time when nothing seems to work. We we feel vulnerable, frustrated, lonely and scared as there are no encouraging results on the horizon. The challenge is to practice patience. To persevere. To keep doing what you know is right. And to close your ears to the people that preach the lie of ‘quick success’. Learning takes time.
  • Creativity. If you keep persevering there will come a stage when things will begin to get easier. You will feel ‘in the flow’. You will start to achieve results and life will feel exciting. You will begin to be aware of the power you have within you. As you begin to use your power, many new exciting opportunities begin to open up to you. Life feels promising and exciting.
  • Control: As you master the new way, you feel secure and confident again. But after a while, you may feel bored, and be tempted to begin a new change. And so the cycle continues.

The soul: Becoming you. Accessing your inner wisdom.

soulIn change, when we let go of everything that has made us confident and secure, we need to dig deep. We need to dust off the spiderwebs of the attributes that make us powerful in our lives. The golden nuggets of:

  • Courage.
  • Resilience.
  • Discipline.
  • Hard work.
  • Flexibility. The ability to adjust our plan according to what is and isn’t working for us.

As we dig deep, we realize we have far more power and magic within us than either we, or the people around us ever imagined.

Combining the head, heart and soul of change.

To master any change we need to:

  • Do our homework on planning our change carefully, so as to reduce our risk as far as possible.
  • Understand and have compassion for ourselves and those around us, as we experience the emotions associated with any change.
  • Apply the golden nuggets of courage, resilience, discipline and hard work.

As we integrate our head, heart and soul in any change we begin to revel in the freedom, power and energy that is ignited within us. And as we practice these new ways until they become a habit, we become truly ourselves.

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