Stepping Up: Living with Excellence

Are you ready for a more excellent way? Are you tired of settling or living life below your potential? We often find ourselves going through the motions of living but not being truly fulfilled. There are many things that pull us into living with mediocrity, such as fear, procrastination, and unhealthy habits. Even though easy living may be the simple choice in the short run, it often leaves us feeling empty, guilty, and frustrated. On the other side, our gifts, purpose, vision, and goals beckon us into our greatness. If you are truly ready to step up and make a change, here are the Stages of Change (developed by Prochaska and DiClemente) for you to consider. These stages are usually applied to the process of changing unhealthy behaviors but they can also be applied to our decision to engage in more positive, healthy behaviors.

• Precontemplation – This is the stage when we are living below our potential but don’t even realize it. This means we have become so comfortable settling that we don’t even realize more is possible. It is disappointing when we embrace a life that falls short of our potential. However, just by the fact that you are reading this blog, I believe you are already considering the ways you can improve your life.

• Contemplation – This is the stage when we begin to think about what life would be like if we began to think, speak, and act differently. It is important during this time to consider the benefits and challenges that would come with serious life change. Growth can be difficult so we have to think it through by being honest with ourselves.

• Preparation – During this stage we make a decision to step up to the plate of change and then we begin to prepare for the changes we need to make. If your dream is big you have to prepare to step out on faith. Consider the steps you need to take now so that you can make changes in your personal life, professional life, health habits, self-care, artistic expression, and/or spiritual life.

• Action – This stage is necessary. Many people will live their entire lives saying “one day”. Well eventually we have to take action. This is when we move from thinking about it and preparing to do it to actually taking concrete steps of change. Consider now what are you willing to do to transform your life? If not now, when?

• Maintenance – In this stage we have to keep up a spirit of excellence. We have to be intentional about not going back to the easy path. We have to resist our old habits, patterns, and cycles and commit daily to living with excellence. It is not enough to make a New Year’s Resolution or to make a momentary decision. Maintenance requires self-discipline. We have to seek out those things that feed our spirits, minds, and hearts – those things and people that inspire and motivate us so we don’t go backward. Maintenance also means that when I slip back into mediocre living I don’t allow myself to dwell there. I make a decision to re-commit to the path of excellence.

A more excellent way is available to you. Make the decision to step up and then keep stepping forward. Excellence is not easy but it is worth it.