Transformation is a passion of mine and I have been on a quest to research it, define it and understand it in my own way so that I could better help people in the work that I do. Transformation to many, this word invokes some far off spiritual idea or fantastical Oprah episode. I don’t think it has to be that grandiose. Transformation can be something as simple as making your bed in the morning or sharing something personal with a friend.
Over the course of a few months, I held dozens of interviews with people from all walks of life motivation speakers, CEOs and Founders, entrepreneurs, Theologists and even an orthodontist. I wanted to ask them about the transformative aspects of their work both in themselves as well as the impact on their clients. What was their experience of meaningful change? How did they perceive transformation?
So, what is transformation? When and where does it happen? Well, thanks to the many inspiring interviews I had, I put together a list of 7 easy ways to identify and create it in your life. Here’s the best from what I’ve learned in my own journey as well as my talks with some amazing and successful people over the last few months
#1: When You Give Up Something
Letting go and giving something up are probably one of the most common and immediate ways we think about transformation. Attachment to results, perfectionism, expectations of others and ourselves, resistance these are common obstacles on the path toward living a created life and they are transformed by the art of letting go. I use “art” because it is definitely a matter of continued practice and refinement.
In my own experience there will be one item in this list that resonates with you more than the others and, for me, this one is it. Letting go and being at peace with what is has been a recurring theme in my life in many important areas. This has been my main area of continued transformation. To practice letting go is to practice peace, and one of the most transformational experiences can be to obtain this seemingly less and less available state of being.
#2: When it happens Mutually
An interesting observation began to occur to me more and more as I interviewed and talked to my friends and coaches every time we talked about contributing to someone else’s life or causing transformation of some kind, the feeling was always mutual.
I remember I had a great lunch with my mom, we were talking about her difficulties with the fitness journey. We talked about being organized, being diligent and what it really means to be independent. After we parted for the day I felt good knowing that I had motivated my mom towards a higher purpose and, I realized that our transformational lunch hadn’t been a one-way street we had both gotten something meaningful out of that exchange.
So, the take home; “Whether you are in a position like my mom was as the student or as I was (in this example) as the teacher, it doesn’t matter. Both people were open and as a result transformation happened. Be open whether that is to receiving or contributing and it will always be mutual”. Know that if you are helping someone you will always get it back in return, and know that when you allow others to help you that you are actually helping them as well regardless of their status or experience.
#3: When You Try Something New
Another “typical” place we tend to relate to transformation is in trying something new a new look, a new relationship, a new job, a new body. But these kinds of makeovers, to me, are less interesting than the internal ones. Changing external circumstances can have a very obvious effect, but in the work I do with people I am always fascinated by a change in perspective that leads to new actions, new values, new habits.
This, to me, is the more meaningful understanding of “trying something new.” We are creatures of habit, in this respect, trying something new is not just for transforming your life but for maintaining it. Life is movement, stiffness and rigidity are the opposite . Life is constantly changing, reinventing, reconsidering, re-creating. It is an endless cycle of impermanence.
Many of the things that cause us anguish do so because they resist this principle because we have created them to be permanent in our minds. “My life/partner/job and then it is so forever in our minds because we have made it permanent instead of trying something new, holding the situation at even a slightly different angle to see what could be there for us. Life is ever-changing, always trying something new it is human beings that desperately cling to certainty, routine and predictability. Try something new in an area that hasn’t had much new in it lately and reap the rewards of transformation.
#4: When You Give Something
Human beings evolved as social creatures and what that means is that our wiring rewards us for positive group behavior, contributing to others, to the tribe, achieving things, spending time with others, developing our role in the community and so on. Most longevity research these days cites social integration and healthy relationships as the top two factors for living a long life and it’s no surprise because giving to others makes us feel alive.
They say that if you are upset or having a bad day, find a way to contribute to someone. It will instantly turn your day (at least a little) better. When we give, we change our state of being from one of lacking to one of abundance. We obtain a sense of connection with another human being, a sense of importance in someone else’s life. This is not philosophy, it’s biology. Learn to hack your own program and create a contributory mechanism in your life that keeps you giving volunteer regularly, be part of community projects, use your gifts and skills to teach or impart information to others. Life truly exists when we give, so rack up those transformation points by doing it as much as possible.
#5: When it Exists in Language
Understanding the creative power of language is a key component in the work that I do with people and it plays a significant role in transformation. When I use the word, “creative,” I don’t mean as in “creative writing” I mean in the generative ability of language to create reality.
You could see your chore of making the bed in the morning as a “problem” or as a “transformational exercise.” Which is more exciting? Words are a big part of the stimulus-response mechanism we have as animals and understanding their power to create emotion, mental experiences, motivation as well as the opposite is a pivotal part to taking control of your life and living it full out through transformation.
How we frame things is the key to everything. Transformation doesn’t have to be a crazy new haircut or losing 100lbs in a short period of time it can be as simple (or difficult) as re-framing how a problem is languaged in your mind.
#6: When it's Authored by Intent
It’s all about setting an intent for what you are going to do. Intent setting is powerful because it doesn’t require physical effort. It happens in your mind and it is the first order of business before taking action. Transformations like the ones we see in the media or all over the internet are the obvious results that manifest in the physical world through a process that is not as obvious the continued action upon an intent. Intent is the beginning of transformation, and maintaining that intent through consistent effort is where the rest of it lies.
Most people quit before they even start or shortly thereafter. At least half of the reason is that they do not have a clear intent or vision of why and where they are going. A powerful intent is transformative in its ability to pull the future to you make use of it and transform your life by being clear and dreaming big.
#7: When It has an Empowering Meaning
If the Universe’s only constant is change, then what makes transformation special? Everything is transforming all the time, changing, being altered, dying off, being reborn. Transformation is part of the very fabric of reality but why do we distinguish it as a special situation?
Change does happen all the time, we just so happen to choose the ones that hold meaning for us. Shaving my head may seem like no big deal to many people but to me it would be a total transformation (one that you definitely wouldn’t want to see). The key here is to use it productively in your life. Go back to the making your bed example you could let the ordinary world take over that situation and fill your mind with meanings like, “chore, problem, obstacle, time waster” or you can take control of your mind and superimpose a different reality like, “transformational exercise, creating my morning exercises, Meditation” and so on. Transformation happens when there’s a meaningful change, and the second part of that is that the said change needs to be empowering.
Transformation is not something reserved for TV show episodes, it is what makes our life worth living.Create something that will empower you, set your intent, try something new, let go of what you need to let go, try to re-frame the situation, give something to someone and remember it’s always mutual so be open.