You can usually do the preparation stages of transforming a part of your life easily since you can do them yourself, without someone else. Working with other people usually makes things more complex. Still, you generally do benefit from involving others. Because they have different perspectives and can see your life from further away, their comments usually help.
At the end of the preparation stages you have two sets of environments, beliefs, and behaviors in mind — your current one and your desired one. You know your current situation so, however little reward it brings, you know how to get the reward it does bring and whatever emotions you want from it. You know what other parts of your life it conflicts or harmonizes with. Your desired situation you know less about.
I call this stage the transition stage because you are still mostly in the old stage, but moving toward the new one. The transition involves change. After many successful transformations you’ll find this change invigorating and encouraging. Leaders, for example, challenge and push themselves in new directions all the time. Those who don’t may find themselves stagnating.
Your first few transformations may not cause you to feel invigorated and encouraged. You may feel conflict and difficulty in changing. The new you, before it takes root, may feel fake, like you’re acting.
At first, the new environments, beliefs, and behaviors you implement will conflict. They may conflict with other parts of your life. If you’re transforming into an area you know little about, they may conflict with each other. You may not know which parts of your new or old self you are keeping or getting rid of.
For example, while I was starting Submedia, I still dressed like a graduate student, clashing with venture capitalists’ or clients’ offices. At first I didn’t understand the difference between equity and debt, a problem when attempting to raise funds.
At first you have inertia because the old parts of your life you are changing tie in with other parts, meaning to change those old parts you have to change others. These connections can slow your pace and make you wonder if the change is worth it.
Finally, the new you may feel fake. You still know the values by which you lived as the old you. You don’t know which values you will keep or lose as you become the new you. You will come to value this feeling of foreignness as a signal that you are going through a meaningful change, not accepting mere comfort to guide you. Without that feeling you wouldn’t know that the change you are going through is significant. Until you know how much of the old you you will keep and how much of the anticipated new you you will accept, you don’t know which values you will end up with. In general, though, the beginning of any meaningful change in your life will give you some feelings of foreignness or fakeness.
I will return to this feeling in the third stage, when feelings of deeper genuineness and authenticity replace these initial feelings of fakeness. If you know where you want to go, you’ll come to find the old you, the one you crowd out, more fake than you realized. The new you seemed fake from the old one’s perspective, but the new you will feel more genuine after the transformation than it felt fake before.
These three effects of conflict, inertia, and feeling fake make the transformation challenging. None of these problems, as we’ll see, are deal-breakers.