It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you embark on any kind of change or transformation.

Our mind can play tricks on us, from making excuses about why to wait to distracting us with too many details. We can even get off course and work against our goal when we don’t know where to begin.

As a change management practitioner, I’m often asked “Where should I start?”

Based on proven methods, shown below are five steps to help you gain clarity, organize your thoughts, and outline an action plan. So, close all those computer windows (and social media apps) and open up a new document. Better yet, go to your happy place, where you can think clearly with paper and pen, and take a look at this template to follow along.

1. Declare your mission.

Write down what you’re setting out to do at the top of the page. It could be “find a new job,” “lose 10 pounds,” or “get organized.” Whatever your mission is, own it and be as specific as possible. For example, you are choosing to become X, achieve X, or do X. From there, spend time visualizing yourself accomplishing your mission. I prefer to set aside 15-30 minutes to allow my mind to relax and focus. See yourself in the new job, or 10 pounds lighter, and imagine the joy and details of what it means to you. Focus on it and believe in it.

Whatever this mission is, you’ll want to make it visible to yourself every day.

I suggest writing it on a post-it and placing it on your computer or mirror. You can add it as reminder on your calendar to pop up as an action to do. The point is to reaffirm your intention every day. If you’re looking to keep your mission private that’s okay, just make it a practice to affirm your mission daily.

2. Build your framework.

You can build your own framework or use this template. If you are creating your own, you will draw a table with two columns. Label the left column “Current State” and label the right column “Desired/Future State.” Under both columns draw a box that spans across the bottom and inside the box write “Actions to Fill Gaps.” This is your structure to begin filling in how you will transform from your Current State to your Desired State.

3. Record your current state and desired state.

Starting in the left column, you will write the current state of your situation. For example, if your mission is to be in a new job, you would write your Current State in the left column, which could be unemployed or employed as X or in a particular industry. Then under the Desired/Future State, write where you want to get to. This could be to find any job, find a job as X, or in the X industry. Depending on your mission, you would specify the essentials, anywhere between one and five topics to keep your change plans manageable.

4. Document actions you can take to close gaps.

This is where you list concrete actions to close your gaps. I recommend starting with one to five actions so you can remain focused. Keeping with the mission of finding a new job, one action may be to freshen up your resume. Here are some tips to think about. Another action could be to research jobs in a specific industry or reach out to your professional network. If you’re looking to lose weight, an action may be to evaluate your current caloric intake and/or start a food journal. All of these actions should feel reasonable, achievable, and have a timeline associated with them.

5. Measure your progress and adapt.

As mentioned in step four, each action should have a timeline associated with it. Step five is to measure your progress and commitment on a regular basis. Refer back to your worksheet and evaluate “How am I doing? Where am I succeeding? Where do I need to start again?” There are no wrong answers. You just need to be honest with yourself, believe in yourself, and know that transformation takes time and effort. The decision to change is in YOUR control. Stay the course and track your journey, and you’ll be surprised how quickly each step will add up and you’ll reach your desired goal. Don’t forget to acknowledge, reward yourself, and celebrate each accomplishment along the way!

Transformation will start occurring when you have committed to “I am changing this behavior; I choose this path instead.”

Believe in yourself, identify with your mission, and stay dedicated. Your attitude toward what you want to achieve makes all the difference. You must have an intense desire to change. You may want to read my previous blog post on five characteristic traits that can help you change.

It’s important to mention that you don’t need to wait until the New Year or the beginning of a particular month just to embark on your journey. My recommendation is to take one step – now – no matter how small, while you’re thinking about it, energized, and determined. There’s no time like the present, while you’re reading this article. Focus equals success.

If you’re still uncomfortable with where to begin or stuck at a particular step, remember that you’re not alone. Find someone to talk it through with, search online for ideas, or join a meet-up group. To learn more about my coaching services, click here.

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