Shift Happens: How to Position Yourself for a Personal Paradigm Shift

“If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But, if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigm.”

–Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


What does it take to make a real change in our lives? What leads us to make big shifts in our personal paradigms? 

Shift happens!

…but how, when, where, and why does it happen?

Now, we have been beautifully and marvelously designed with uniqueness and individuality, and because of that, we innately long to discover our purpose in life. Someone once said, “You are beautiful and unique. A one-of-a-kind. Just like everyone else!”

Because of our intrinsic design and unique idiosyncratic hardwiring, we ask ourselves questions such as:

“What is my calling?”

“What is my purpose in life?”

“What are my gifts and talents, and how can I start using them?”

“How do I know my life’s mission and how will I know when I’m doing it?”

And the biggie, “Why am I here?”

 As Maslow described it, we seek to actualize when our immediate, physiological human needs are met. Furthermore, recent studies have indicated that we seek out our purpose even when we live in struggles, like lacking food or shelter.

Actualize, now there’s a word for you.

Another one: Potentiate.

Big words that are unused in day-to-day life, however, originate in the minds of researchers describing our human condition. Nonetheless, they merely mean seeking out your purpose and potential.

This soul-searching should lead us to the “why” in our lives, which hopefully steers us towards seeking what to do in order to get us to a place called “there”. (Don’t you just love all the quotation marks?)

I propose these stages of awareness to implementation noted by researchers, which I have slightly modified, in order to experience new shifts in your personal paradigms: 

  1. Awareness Stage (Seeing or envisioning the need)

 In this stage, the individual is oblivious to their need for change until a revelation, epiphany, or V-8 moment hits them upside the head. Something triggers this eye-opening experience and they "get it". Maybe it's as simple as reading new material, speaking with a mentor, or observing something from a different perspective.

What do they get, you may ask? The sense to become more than they are and to fulfill a deeper need they have. They desire a change.

  1. Intent Stage (Desiring a change)

 Now that the “eyes of their understanding” have been enlightened, they have an emotion towards motion that may trigger a contemplation and decision-making process. Those decisions may strategically position the individual from where they currently are to different levels of personal growth and development, by scaffolding or bridging their understanding and learning. (Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory applied here.)

  1. Decision Stage (Shifting location)

 At this level, an individual makes a locational shift-psychological, geographical, emotional, etc., in order to align themselves with a change agent, such as a teacher, trainer, mentor, manager, pastor, or leader who can assist them in their personal paradigm shift journey.

The most import shift, however, is a mind shift. In her book, Mindset, Dr. Carol Dweck notes that we should embrace a growth mindset, versus a fixed mindset. That powerful decision alone is transformational. This segues into the Preparation Stage. 

  1. Preparation Stage (Learning the way)

 This stage is one that moves from desiring and positioning in order to become a consistent learner. The individual becomes an avid student in order to move to stage five so as to achieve a “higher level of becoming” by implementing new practices of behaviors, attitudes, and skills.

  1. Implementation Stage (Practicing a plan)

During the fifth stage, the learner’s behaviors or skills are practiced repeatedly to obtain consistent results. This has a transformational effect, shifting personal paradigms and producing new outcomes.

Some professional observations I have concluded regarding an individual’s ability to actualize, or discover their purpose:

-People do what they REALLY want to do

-Any significant change requires tremendous energy and work

-Many people will never live out their true calling and purpose because they do not intentionally and persistently pursue it

Those who truly seek a personal paradigm shift will work through these developmental stages and lasting change can be achieved.

 Some reflection questions:

What stage are you in with an important goal in your life?

How can you shift into the next stage of your personal development? 

What is your plan to get you into the Implementation Stage for your top 3-5 goals?


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