Monday, May 23, 2016

Emotional Change Cycles

I am reading another great business book entitled the 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington. Lots of great information on ways to increase productivity. And a great excerpt explaining the Emotional Cycle of Change (ECOC) which I believe is relevant to every investor, entrepreneur, business person, or change agent. It describes the emotional process we go through when faced with change. Unless we understand this normal cycle, it is too easy to be derailed by it when we attempt to make a big change in our lives.

The ECOC comes from the work of psychologists Don Kelley and Daryl Connor, and describes five stages of emotional experience. Regardless of the type of change you might implement in your life, your business, your relationships, you will experience this cycle. I believe this is especially important for many of our local real estate investors who just embarked on their "30-Day Challenges" to improve their investment businesses. I would suspect that many of them are experiencing the emotional roller coaster that comes along with making change happen.

The five stages that people move through emotionally when making changes in their behavior are as follows:

  1. Uninformed Optimism
  2. Informed Pessimism
  3. Valley of Despair
  4. Informed Optimism
  5. Success and Fulfillment
The first stage of Uninformed Optimism is where we experience all of the thrills and excitement of embarking in a new direction, without any idea of the costs or downside. Get rich quick! No money down! Make money while you sleep! Kiss your day job good-bye! You brainstorm ideas and strategize how to achieve the results you desire.

Sadly, this phase does not last long, as reality begins to sink in. During the next phase of Informed Pessimism, the costs of the change are apparent and the benefits seem far removed. There is a shift to a negative emotional state, as we weigh the pros and cons of moving forward. This is hard work! I don't like hearing "no." It really isn't "no money down." My parents think I'm crazy to do this. My friends say this will never work.

And if that is not bad enough, things are about to get we move into the Valley of Despair. Perhaps this is where some of our 30-day challengers gave up. This is where most people give up. All of the pain of change is present, and it feels very uncomfortable. This is the stage at which it is absolutely critical to have a compelling vision. You must want the results so badly that you are willing to pay the price of discomfort to get it. Few people do. So they quit on their dream, and return to the stage of uninformed optimism.

Those who persist with commitment may be rewarded with progress to the fourth stage of Informed Optimism, where their likelihood of success is much higher. You are beginning to see the fruits of your efforts and the costs are easier because your activity is becoming more routine. Hey! That Seller returned my call! I found someone willing to lease-option! I got a private lender! The key at this stage is to keep going, do not quit!

Finally, those who stay the course reach the fifth stage of Success and Fulfillment, where the benefits of their behaviors are fully realized. "The actions which at the beginning were difficult and uncomfortable, have now become routine. Every time you complete the cycle, you build not only your capacity, but also your confidence." Bravo to those investors who completed their 30-day Challenge! They stayed the course and found success!

Being aware of this cycle of emotional shifts means that an investor will be less likely to be derailed by negative emotions and will be able to manage change more effectively.

Change is never easy. Being willing to follow through despite the skepticism, discomfort, obstacles, and negativity will bring you closer to the vision of reality you wish to pursue. It won't be easy, but guaranteed it will be rewarding.

And if you need some guidance along the way, be sure to check out the book The 12 Week Year.

Happy Investing!

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