How to Embrace Change When It Feels F*cking Scary

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“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” I remember hearing that phrase long ago, and it has never left my thoughts. We all are aware change is the only constant. However, growth seems to ask more of us. Growth requires us to stay present as we improve our awareness and identity and pursue more for ourselves. Growth is often said to enhance our quality of life—and who doesn’t want that?

It’s still a funny thing, though, and something I only feel or value in retrospect. It’s sort of happening when you’re not looking. Then there’s a moment of reflection where you realize how far you’ve come, how differently you might see or think, and what a maturing of the spirit or self can really feel like. Still, growth is not a passive experience, and we have to do a few things to really help ourselves grow. Some of these things also parallel change, and change is often a part of growth.

Below are some steps for leaning into change, embracing it, and developing a growth mindset that can help you flourish. 

1. Set an intention, and get clear on things you’d like to be, do, or achieve

“I am learning every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me,” actress Tracee Ellis Ross said to Uptown magazine.

It’s okay to want to change things. It’s okay to seek more in some areas of your life, and maybe “more” is just a different way of being or seeing or doing. Fall is a great time to reflect on the year so far and settle in on what you’d like to work on to close the year out.

I make vision boards, and I write down what I want to do and be this time next year. Maybe none of it comes to fruition, but having a focus can help you stay on task and continue to do the things that will get you to that place. Like I said, growth happens over time by taking action. Maybe this creates new habits; maybe this rewires old thought patterns. But you have to start with an intention to move into that something new. Don’t fear it—be inspired by it. 

2. Think about actions that can support your intention

Once you have your intention, think about what steps can help you move in that direction…

Want to be more loving? Think about gratitude lists, journaling, and reaching out to friends and family with kind words.

Want to have more confidence? Get rid of friends and environments that bring you down. Write affirmations and stick them on your bathroom mirror, or use them as the alarm wake-up line on your phone so they’re constantly in front of you to see.

Want to be more fit and ward off diseases through health? Schedule workouts you like, find a gym or running buddy, fill your fridge with nutrient-dense foods, and learn some new recipes you can use easily.

3. Enjoy the journey as much as the destination

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I’m really over the mentality that everything is #goals. We can get so obsessed with goals we forget the unhappiness that always lingers around from thinking we aren’t enough as we are in the here and now. We can even feel bad if we aren’t making progress.

Growth is great, but living life and staying present is a feat in itself. Setting an intention with action steps can help you feel purposeful day to day, and that has actually been found to be more important for people than chasing “happiness.” We might think goals and eternal happiness matter most, but we actually need meaning in our lives.

Living on purpose and in accord with our intentions can give us meaning. That is a contentment that will span achievements and accolades. It will also help us through tougher times that are bound to happen as we continue to grow into who we want to be and who will become.

Claire Fountain—celebrity yoga teacher, personal trainer, and wellness expert—founded #TrillYoga with her unorthodox approach to breaking stigmas and stereotypes in the yoga and wellness space. After getting into yoga for depression and anxiety, she has always been a mental health advocate beyond all her fitness endeavors. She also has an e-book series called Built and Bendy that promotes strength training, flexibility, mindfulness, and positivity-led health goals.

Next up: Check out eight amazing things that happen to your brain (and body) when you go outside.