The Transformation Process

By Elliott Potter

I am a journalist by calling. I am not a guru or a personal counselor – not even close.

I’ve developed a strong interest in personal transformation, mainly because my own experiences piqued my curiosity. After witnessing the power of authentic transformation, I have come to think of New Year’s Resolutions as small potatoes. Resolutions are not useless, mind you, but they pale in comparison to a commitment to fundamental life change.

As I said, I’m hardly an expert – certainly not a trained professional. But I do know what it’s like when the need for personal transformation hits you squarely between the eyes. The timing isn’t tied to the start of a new year. Transformation is bigger than the calendar.

In many cases, including my own, the need to make a fundamental change presents itself without option. You either make the change or you should prepare to face the consequences.

I’m not saying that saving money and losing weight are not important; in fact, such laudable objectives often play a role in a larger transformation. But when someone rescinds their commitment to a resolution, their life may return to the way it always was. Better luck next year.

If a transformation is needed but denied, it could mean a degradation of life as they know it. In some cases, you can only hope there is a next year.

My transformation involved alcohol and some really awful personal decisions. One problem led to the other, but they both had to be fixed.

Did my issues involve health? Yes. Finances? Pretty much. Life stressors? Absolutely. Each of those factors could have been addressed separately with a New Year’s Resolution and maybe forgotten by the end of February. To address all of them – and to address them all effectively – required not a promise, but a change of heart.

Resolutions specify a personal challenge. Transformation deals with the collective soul.

Transformation requires a thorough understanding and identification of the real problems and their underlying causes. It requires a plan that takes time.

People who go down the road of transformation often use religion as a guide star. Others may turn to rehabilitation services or other medical help. Nearly everyone that I’ve run across has needed the support and understanding of friends and family to climb the mountain. A key ingredient is their own determination. Usually, the required resources involve some or all of the above—and then some.

Unlike the nature of resolutions, failure is a part of transformation. Once a New Year’s resolution is broken, it’s usually over and done. Transformation often involves getting back up and trying again. It’s a process to be completed, not a promise to be kept or broken.

This January, I remain focused on the real work of transformation. Doing so can be challenging, frustrating, even. But real transformation knows no finish line. Because of this, it means so much more than a simple resolution. If your life needs real change, I hope you’ll join me in the journey.

Elliott Potter is a staff columnist and blogger for HERStory. He is a former newspaper editor and publisher who lives in Jacksonville, N.C.

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