How to make positive change towards a flourishing future

Sometimes in life, we all feel like we need to make a change. Whether it's in our home life, relationships, health or careers. The issues can be big or small but, regardless of size, they can cause us to feel dissatisfied, unhappy and even anxious or depressed. Therefore, the best way to deal with it is to take some positive proactive steps to change the situation.


Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But change is one of the leading causes of stress and anxiety for us! In 1967 Holmes and Rahe developed the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) by looking at the medical notes of 5000 patients and analysing a correlation between stressful life events and illness. They found that some events had an extremely high relationship with stress-related illnesses. Surprisingly though not all of the events would be deemed as “negative”!

The top 15 most stress-inducing life events were found to be:

  1. death of a spouse or child
  2. divorce
  3. marital separation
  4. imprisonment
  5. death of a close family member
  6. personal injury or illness
  7. marriage
  8. dismissal from work
  9. marital reconciliation
  10. retirement
  11. major change in health of a family member
  12. pregnancy
  13. sexual difficulties
  14. gaining a new family member eg. birth or adoption
  15. major change in business eg. redundancy or promotion

Clearly, many of these are negative... but not all. Many people, for example, will say that getting married, retiring, receiving a promotion or having a child was the best thing that ever happened to them. So why are they on the list if they are so positive and rewarding?

It's simple, they still cause change and change is stressful. Any activity that moves us out of our comfort zone (even if we don’t particularly like it there) causes stress as we are heading into the unknown which can be scary or dangerous or a mistake. It is better to stay in our current situation even if we don’t like it and it makes us unhappy…. Right? Of course not!

In my empowerment coaching sessions, I like to use a method called appreciative inquiry in order to help clients to identify areas they wish to change and then make a positive proactive plan in order to achieve it. Appreciative Inquiry was devised by David Copperrider and Suresh Srivastva which suggests that rather than starting a change from a negative stance such as “I am rubbish at my job and it makes me really anxious” we should structure any change from a positive viewpoint such as“I am dissatisfied with my current job and want to make active changes in order to make the situation better”.

The best starting point for this is an activity called the miracle question. This is widely used by psychologists and only takes a few minutes. If you would like to give it a try spend five minutes (or more if you like) thinking about your answer to the following question.

You have slept soundly all night without waking up. During this time a miracle happened and the issue that has been troubling you has magically been solved! When you wake up no one tells you of this miraculous event. How do you know things have changed? What will be different? How do you feel?

It would be amazing if this type of thing did happen but it’s OK as in the majority of situations youhave the power to do it yourself! Now you have identified the area of stress or dissatisfaction we need to find a way to make a change. This happens in four main stages.

Four stages of making a change

Stage 1: Discovery – what’s best? 

This stage entails looking at the situation from a positive perspective, focussing on strengths, not weaknesses such as; In the situation you wish to change what are your strengths? What makes you feel proud of yourself? What knowledge or skills can you contribute that maybe others can’t? What motivated you to enter this situation in the first place? What do you gain from the situation?

Stage 2: Dream – what’s next? 

Using the strengths we discovered in stage one, we now need to project that positive image into the future and imagine how you would like your situation to be in six months or a year's time for example. This must be grounded yet challenging and motivational. Try to imagine your future self and situation and think about; What is different now? What has changed? What have you improved? How do you feel? 

Stage 3: Design – how might we?

In this stage, we start to put together a plan of action in order to reach this future vision, so the following must be considered; What could you change? What could you do differently? What strengths can you utilise? What areas could you improve on? How could you improve your skill set? What new techniques could you learn or use? Can anyone help or support you?

Stage 4: Destiny – What will we?

In this final stage, we start to put our plans in place. Copperrider and Srivastva believed that focusing on the positive creates its own momentum rather than putting on the brakes like negativity does! How you proceed is entirely up to you but now you have a positive, realistic, and motivational goal getting there is so much easier!

An example of this could be taken from a very familiar problem to many of us, our work-life balance. I have worked with many clients who have had this or similar problems, and it has caused high levels of negativity, low mood, anxiety, stress, career and relationship problems.

So, imagine you are a working parent with an immeasurable number of roles and responsibilities that you have to meet every day in order to avoid the guilt of not being the perfect mother, father, employee, husband, wife, friend etc. Spinning all of those plates has left you emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted, so let’s work through the stages of appreciative inquiry in order to change this negative situation.

  • Stage 1: Discovery – what’s best? I am a loving parent who always makes my children’s needs a priority. My children are happy and doing well at school. I have limited time but always try to spend time with friends when I can. My relationship with my partner is good, we communicate well and enjoy each other’s company. I am doing well at work and am often complimented on my creativity.
  • Stage 2: Dream – what’s next? In my ideal future, I will have more quality time with friends and family. Do more physical exercise in order to improve my health. Feel more confident at work in meetings and have a positive work-life balance. 
  • Stage 3: Design – how might we? I can organise regular date nights with my partner. Reduce work hours or change my timetable so it fits in better with my personal life. I can start a hobby that me and my family can do together to make us healthier and enjoy each other’s company. Arrange my schedule better so I can have more quality time with friends and family. Attend a seminar on public speaking. Ask for help from others, maybe a work colleague, friend or relative could take some of my tasks in order to lighten my load.
  • Stage 4: Destiny – what will we? By putting these ideas into practice I will cause a positive effective change in my life!

Remember change is always scary but staying in a comfort zone that is actually an uncomfortable zone that makes you unhappy is worse. Make the change you want even if it makes you nervous as it will be worth it. Long-term happiness is its own reward! 

I hope you have found this article useful and if you have any questions or would like more information or advice on causing positive change, please contact me

For more information on similar areas to this one please see some of my other articles, which are available here or on my website, such as;

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Rayleigh, Essex, SS6
Written by Rosslyn Whellams, BSc in Psychology and a Diploma in Emotional Health Coaching
Rayleigh, Essex, SS6

My name is Rosslyn Whellams and I am an Empowerment Coach and Psychology Teacher living in Rayleigh, Essex. I offer in person or online affordable, effective and tailored individual Empowerment Coaching as well as set courses and programs. My goal is to help my Clients improve their lives by finding and increasing their Emotional Empowerment!

Show comments

Find a coach dealing with Empowerment coaching

All coaches are verified professionals

All coaches are verified professionals