Simply stated, when change is the focus, change doesn't work!
The first step in any successful change process is acceptance. Most people don't know how to accept themselves before changing...and therein lies the problem.
Oh, but I'll accept myself once...
1. I lose twenty pounds
2. I have three months savings
3. My marriage is thriving
4. I launch my website
5. I'm known in my industry
Robert Holden brilliantly said: "No level of self-improvement will ever make up for a lack of self-acceptance."
If you can't love yourself now, you won't know how to love yourself then either! Even if you could, it would be entirely performance-based and therefore, empty. It's tempting to think achieving your goals will lead to acceptance but it won't, it can't and it never will.
I would go so far as to say that it's not worth exerting ANY action until you learn how to accept yourself first. Otherwise, all action stems from a place of scarcity and would be considered entirely premature.
But what if I never accept myself, does that mean I shouldn't exert any effort? Yes and no! No, don't exert any of the efforts you believe you need to accept yourself because it will only dig the ditch deeper. Yes, exert all of the effort necessary to learn how to accept yourself "as is."
You'll be surprised that when you delay the tactics you think will make you feel worthy, you'll immediately start learning how to accept yourself. Mark Barden and Adam Morgan beautifully illustrate this in their book A Beautiful Constraint. When you create constraints (I can't take action until I learn how to accept myself), then you activate the creative, curious and imaginative parts of your brain that helps you "figure it out."
Believe me when I tell you there's a part of you that already accepts yourself; otherwise, you wouldn't have continued reading this.
It's important to note that the all-or-none, dualistic mind often confuses acceptance for settling--they're as far as the east is from the west. It boils down to desire...settling suggests you have no desire to change while acceptance says this is my starting point, I accept it for what it is, and now I'm going to proceed from here. The bottom line is, acceptance requires courage and settling doesn't.
The challenge with acceptance is that your insecure ego must endure the necessary humiliation that where I am is not where I want to be. However, the tension created by wholehearted accountability is what forges your transformation. Don't avoid the pain, embarrassment, or humility...they're your catalysts!
Notice earlier; I said you would have to learn how to accept yourself, it's an ongoing process, not a one-time event.
Self-acceptance may feel like an impossible task, but keep in mind that all evolution takes place one decision at a time. All decisions pivot on comfort or courage. Comfortable decisions reinforce who you already are, while courageous decisions redefine who you are.
The key will be to separate the outcome of your decision from your identity; this is the practice of self-acceptance and the skill-set needing to be developed.
Follow this process...
1. Make one, courage decision (this IS full success)
2. Keep expectations very low and don't attach to the outcome (your EGO will hate this)
3. Be willing to accept the outcome and yourself as is
4. Make your next courageous decision
Over time, you'll learn that accepting reality is what it means to accept yourself.
"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf." Joseph Goldstein