Saying change is difficult is an understatement. Change can be excruciatingly painful because it rarely takes you on a straight path from Point A to Point B. Instead, you must venture through the extremely trying times of what Seth Godin calls “The Dip” where your strength and resolve are tested to the limits.
“The Dip” is a psychological concept that illustrates the change process. If you haven’t read the Seth Godin book by that title, it’s well worth your time. The Dip is particularly relevant to entrepreneurs because we take more and bigger risks than most people consider reasonable.
People think of the journey from Point A to Point B as being a linear path. You begin the change process at Point A and in order to get to Point B, you need to start taking steps in the right direction. It’s logical to think that by changing your mindset and adjusting your behavior that you will arrive at Point B in a predictable amount of time and effort.
There is rarely ever a change that goes directly from Point A to Point B. Most change you embark on in our business or personal life requires that things actually get worse, sometimes much worse, before they get better. Only in The Dip of the results getting worse do you really find out what you are made of and the character growth necessary to truly achieve lasting change.
This is where you encounter The Dip, the character-testing journey downward as Point B slips further from view as you continue to labor toward Point B.
The Downward Journey of Change
The Beginning (Point 1) – You start with confidence and strong resolve. Because you are taking action, you will likely see some immediate results before the downturn. Even as things start getting worse, your willpower and optimism are able to help you push through.
The Low Point (Point 2) – You can no longer see where you came from or where you are going. Your confidence has all but disappeared and you are starting to feel hopeless and fatigued. It’s at this point that you begin questioning why you embarked on this journey of change to begin with.
The Glimmer of Light (Point 3) – You can start to see how your hard work and determination will start paying off. Unfortunately, it’s just a glimmer of hope and you are still far below where you were when you started out a Point A. You are feeling frustrated, tired and impatient, and ready to give up.
Navigating The DIP
Clear Mindset – Fix your big WHY firmly in your mind as you begin to embark on any journey of change. Your mindset is what powers you through the low points.
Right Behaviour Mechanisms – Come up with a concrete, accountable action plan and know how to troubleshoot any self-sabotaging behaviours that may threaten to take you off track.
Daily Habits – Use your work habits like a compass to stay focused and keep your forward momentum. Again, these will serve you well when you start feeling low and are tempted to give up.
Support Systems – Get the right supports in place before you start. What that looks like depends on your needs. It may just be getting your team on board with the process or you may need to hire a coach to help you navigate the change process.
The key to making it through The Dip is patience and consistent action. Don’t give in to the temptation to undo all the work you have done simply because the end is no longer in sight. Know that the end result is worth all the trouble of the journey.