Gearing Up for Action – The 5 Stages of Readiness

Over winter break I pondered “readiness” and what happens as we begin to gear up for real change. This was spurred on as I finally found myself elbow deep in a project that I had imagined and talked about for a VERY long time. It was the simple yet significant act of ridding myself of 20 years of files from previous professional endeavors and truly-no-kidding, cleaning my office top to bottom. It demanded my full, undivided attention.

The Readiness Factor
Whether it is deciding to take your first jump off a diving board (as the child in picture) starting a small renovation, selling your house, changing career direction, choosing to transition into or out of a personal or business relationship or starting a challenging conversation there are “behind the scenes” readiness activities happening. These stages may come neatly one right after the other, or more likely show up in an unusual pattern that is a reflection of your unique style and approach.

The Five Stages of Readiness:

Pondering
• Geez, one day I would really like to….
• I feel like I am sooo ready to make a change in…
• What will it feel like when I…
• What do I need to stop doing so that I can…
These are “dreamy” forward-thinking queries characteristic of this stage. They serve as the motivational foundation for moving forward. You might spend loads of here or relatively little.

Planning
• What needs to happen to get started?
• What is my strategy from getting from A to B?
• When will I start and how will I measure success?
This stage begins to breathe life into the ideas generated in the pondering stage.

Publicizing
• I’m ready to discuss or announce my plan(s) – it might be quietly to a confidante or a mega-announcement in the board room
• I ask for support, input, advice, vote of copnfidence
• I get to celebrate that I am readying to get started

Note: Sometimes publicizing happens earlier serving as an impetus for the planning. (Admittedly, I tend to announce early, hoping it will create impetus – and I find myself going back to pondering for a while!)

Perseverance
• I am going to do this come hell or high water – Commitment happens here
• I am determined to see this through to its outcome
This is the wind under the wings of everything that came before…The essential element!

Proceed
• I am in action, taking steps forward, big or small
• I deal with obstacles and modify the plan as I go
• I celebrate my accomplishments, and being human get impatient with progress
This is life happening. This stage is both the “sweet spot” and sometimes the hard stuff.

Sometimes it seems that we go from “non-action” into “action” with a flip of the switch. Oftentime there is some down-time between stages or within stages. And although that “hair-pullling-semi-patient waiting period” can be simply excruciating we have to simply trust that something is happening under the radar that is helping us gear up for action.

The funny part of my office cleaning extravaganza story is that while I was clearing off my desk one of the last things I came across was one of those picture cards I posted to remind me of an intention (made a LONG time ago). I laughed out loud when I saw it- one side had a picture of a woman – in greco-roman garb of course – on the ledge of a balcony with papers thrown over, into the wind, out to the sea. It said CLEARING. The other side read “Clear the Clutter. When in doubt, throw it out.”

So now, when the time was right, and a very LONG time after I muttered that original intention I have arrived!

Bette Hoffman MS, CPCC
Certified Professional Co-Active Coach