In the volatile world we live in, where change is the only constant, learning to embrace and manage change to our own advantage can make all the difference between being stuck with a life you do not want or live a happier, more fulfilling life, the one you always dreamed about.
Overcoming fear, that subtle yet powerful emotion that undermines and limits our personal development and success, is the first barrier to break. Viviana Vethencourt is an experienced personal growth coach, psychologist and mental health counselor, CEO of Growally, a human capital development firm that helps individuals evolve into successful, balanced human beings. Viviana recently shared with me her points of view and recommendations on how to leverage change in today's world to boost personal growth, while taking control of our lives.
Ernesto Sosa: Even though many people today don't like what they see when they look into a mirror, fear of change has them stuck in their own comfort zones. What is the first step to unlock true personal growth?
Viviana Vethencourt: The word change always comes with fear attached to it. Even the smallest of changes means going from something we know to something we don't. Now imagine if change involves your identity. People frequently don't like what they see in the mirror, true, but the problem is they don't know how to approach the situation. And even if they knew, when change means changing who we are, our identity, the challenge is always bigger. It is really difficult to picture ourselves as a different person, if we don't even know who we are at the present moment.
Personally, I always felt like something was missing in my life, there was a sense of dissatisfaction, even when I "had it all" by traditional standards. Curiously, I failed at every time I tried to change that, because I didn't know what I wanted to change. Only when I stopped to look into the mirror, willing to openly look inside me, understand, and accept myself for who I was, I began to see what I wanted. Only when I took the time to get to know myself, I was able to identify I wanted to change. From there I was ready to do the work to make it happen. When you know who you are, what you want and where you want to be, you are ready to start working towards change.
ES: After years studying human behavior and how people deal with change, you developed the STRIVE Personal Growth Model. How does it work?
VV: The STRIVE Personal Growth Model combines my research work on human behavior and my own personal development experience, my own personal change story. The model is developed over six fundamental principles everyone needs to go through in order to achieve successful personal change. Those principles are:
1. Searching within us to know who we are, acknowledge where we are today, and define where we want be.
2. Reclaiming our own power to take on the world.
3. Reinventing ourselves through life's opportunities
4. Innovating by evaluating and leveraging the resources we need to make the required changes to move forward.
5. Visualizing what we truly want and making decisions.
6. Executing by taking action. The only way to move forward.
ES: It has been said that we are our own worst critics. Identifying who we are and what we want in life can be an intimidating, difficult exercise. What is the best way to approach it?
VV: The best way to approach self-evaluation is to do it with an open mindset, with love, compassion and without judgments to identify areas we want to change, without giving them any subjective value. We cannot give others what we don't have, so we need to love and show compassion to ourselves first in order to move forward. Remember, we are humans, we are imperfect by nature, and perfection is the enemy of excellence.
ES: You promote taking on the world through opportunities to build a better, happier, more successful life. How can people tune in and filter opportunities to target the ones that are right for them?
VV: It is all about beliefs and habits. Our set of beliefs determine how we evaluate every situation in life. If we believe a situation is unsolvable, that we don't have any options, it will be very difficult to get the results we want. Now when we stop and look at the situation from a different, fact-based perspective it is a different story. Sometimes we can see an opportunity in the situation, but don't know how to act upon it, because we are so used to respond through our own habits, that we don't know how to do things differently. That is why it is so important to think about which beliefs and habits are limiting us to change or eliminate them for the better.
ES: A key move to get ahead in life is to be able to learn, unlearn and relearn to reinvent ourselves. In an age powered by technology and information overload, what is the best way to tackle this important, yet challenging task?
VV: It depends on what you need to learn and unlearn in order to achieve your personal goals. In general, as humans we need to unlearn old habits that do not add value to ourselves and replace them with new, positive, constructive ones that helps us live a more fulfilling, productive life. Technology is always an important enabler that we can use to our advantage. It can help us certainly improve and create new habits, as well as improve skills, such as time management, planning, and doing our work more efficiently, but without forgetting life balance. We need to make sure we also take time to enjoy life.
ES: Much has been said and written about the power that lies within every human being. How do you define personal power and how can people (re)activate their personal power to fuel personal growth?
VV: I call it "Take on The World." It is only through your personal will power that you are going to make your own decisions and act upon them. Nobody else is going to make it for you. The fact is you are the only one who knows what is best for you.
Personal decisions involve responsibility. Many times we give power to others only to be able to blame them later when things don't go as planned. Things might go as planned, but they will never be the best for you. So in order to make the best possible decisions at any given time, you need to be ready to responsibly accept the consequences. You will feel great and accomplished, no matter the results, because you will know you gave your best. On the other hand, if you give your will power to others, no matter the great results you get, you will never feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with leading your life.
ES: Without action there is no change. Any recommendations on how to become a master in the art of execution to move towards our life goals faster and accomplish them?
VV: To avoid getting stuck in the art of designing the perfect life plan, we need to take risks. There needs to be a balance between plan and action. Yes, you should take planned actions, but you should also be ready to take immediate action when opportunity comes along. We are regularly so afraid of taking the first step that we tend to hide ourselves behind perfectionism and behind the need to control every detail. But as I always say, perfectionism is the enemy of excellence. If we love ourselves, learn to be compassionate with ourselves, learn to take risks, life will be easier. Why? Because at the end, we will know that even if it didn't work out, we still stepped out of our comfort zone, and with that comes learning, and change to keep moving forward in this journey called life.