Achieving success with your personal transformation goals is fundamental to attaining a sense of trust and confidence in yourself.

In this article, I’m going to give you a step-by-step process that will help you be victorious in your personal transformation journey. As this article includes a couple of exercises, it runs a bit lengthy.

Here’s a “TOC” in case you’re in a hurry and need to pop-out and come back later:

“If you want change, you have to make it. If we want progress, we have to drive it.”
Susan Rice
Former US National Security Advisor

I.  Recap: THE BIG 5

In part 1 of this blog series, I explained how we can utilize The Big 5 Personality Traits Theory to successfully achieve our desired goals. (If you haven’t had a chance to read part 1 of this series you can click here to read that, now.  Part 1 gives a lot of background information on THE BIG 5 that you won’t want to miss ) I described how the human brain wires-in habits and behaviors then designates most of them to an automation process, deep inside the subconscious mind.  This often leaves people feeling as though they have little or no known controls to consciously adjust and manage their behaviors and habits.  They then experience an emergence of internal conflict where the conscious mind and the subconscious are working against one another. 

The process of habit formation sheds light on why people often struggle with or fail to realize personal growth goals.  It’s natural for folks to feel caught up in the internal discourse and for some of us, these exchanges can get downright nasty!  Before we know it, we find ourselves feeling pretty lousy about our self, disappointed, and expecting more from ourselves. 

There IS a better approach!  We can cut our transformation efforts in half by dedicating a bit of “up-front” time to sitting with and holding internal meetings with our BIG 5.  This really is just a process of Parts Therapy. I will dive further into parts therapy in a future blog post.  You may be comforted to know that Parts Therapy has shown to have profound effects, helping a person achieve their goals.   

While all of your personality aspects are involved in a fierce campaign to keep you safe and alive, they busy themselves with maintaining your contentment.   Yet they very much each enjoy and want to preserve certain creature comforts, at the same time.  When you go to negotiate with them you must consider what creature comforts they may be holding onto that can counter your transformation efforts. 

And so it is through Parts Therapy exercises that we can float our ideas for change by THE BIG 5, negotiating where we might need to and resolve any internal conflict.  With THE BIG 5 on board we may find ourselves confident and excited enough about our transformation journey.  Thereby making it a little easier and enjoyable to move into the phase of mapping out a plan that ensures we overcome any obstacles along the way. 

II.  The BIG 5 are your personality’s dominant parts.

THE BIG 5 take on a bigger proportion of leadership and therefore make up a big part of who you are.  They govern a majority of your behaviors, attitudes and beliefs.  They wield great influence over how you approach personal change, from making the very smallest shift to bigger personal transformation efforts. 

III.  1st Steps: Review where THE BIG 5 Land.

The first step to utilizing THE BIG 5 as our allies to change work is to measure and understand where they fall on a range of individual comfort scales.  In my last blog post, I asked you to take initial action by:  

  • Spending a few minutes to make note of where you feel your comfort level ranges with each of the BIG 5
  • Allow yourself to continue thinking about where your comfort levels measure, in each of THE BIG 5 when you are engaged in routine activities, novel activities, or with new people.

Pull up your notes and take a second look at where you measured in each of those BIG 5 now.  As you look back, does it feel like an accurate assessment?  Did you think about a variety of circumstances that you engage in or anticipate engaging in someday? 

This kind of internal assessment is experienced in different ways.  For that reason, I encourage you to jot down anything that comes up that you may want to circle back around to.  There are no right or wrong answers and no thoughts or ideas are right or wrong.  You are the true expert on “the United States of You” so if something stands out as a notable hunch that you want to pursue…write it down so you can move through the exercise and follow through with any insights or leads.

And when you are done reviewing, you can move on to the next part where you will familiarize yourself with these parts in a different way.  You’ll really want to get to know them before enlisting them to your primo team-o!

IV.    2nd Steps: Bring to Mind the Change you Desire to achieve

 (read through this part of the process first and then go back and do it.)

Think of the specific change you want to make.

  1. Make sure it’s only one thing at a time. Do not start off this relationship by overworking your team!  To use an example, I’ll refer back to Patricia from my earlier blog post.  Patricia wants to quit smoking so she can love and cuddle her grandbaby.  Well Patricia also may want to lose some weight, improve her smile and feel totally calm when talking to strangers.  That’s quite a few things that Patricia wants to change.  But what is most important to her, right now, is connecting with that baby and building a relationship with the most precious thing in her life.
  2. Close your eyes and briefly step into that change. Imagine that you have already achieved that goal… and feel what it feels like having already been successful with that! Notice how you feel, think, sound and stand when you are 1 week out from achieving that goal, notice what you do and who you are when you are 2 weeks out after attaining that goal, 3 months, 1 year.  Allow yourself, for a moment, to feel what it is like to have achieved that!
  3. When you’ve got that nice and good feeling at its peak take your left forefinger and press and hold it on your right wrist, as if pressing a button on your wrist. This anchors that feeling in and acts like a sticky note. You’ll be able to access this feeling anytime you press that spot on your wrist.
  4. Now stand in that place of success, where your goal has been met. Take a moment to FEEL what that feels like, to be successful.  Now, look back on all the steps you took to get there! – to check that goal off your list. Really take a look around!  If you imagine in pictures, enjoy seeing yourself in a sort of recap montage.  If you imagine in sounds, enjoy for a moment hearing all the sounds of your progress.
  5. Then come back to the place where your physical body is, now! Release that button on your wrist. And as you step out of your future self, bring with you all the knowledge of all those steps or interactions that you took to get there. You have an anchor that will bring those good feelings of success to you, and you can use that anchor to remind yourself what you are working towards any time along the way.  Let that anchor act as a motivational “sticky note” for you every now and again.  You do not want to always have those good feelings because you will trick your subconscious mind into believing that you have already achieved the goal…and no more work will be dedicated to accomplishing that.  But you DO want to remind yourself occasionally. 
  6. And Finally, now that you’ve read through the steps GO BACK and do them.

V.   3rd Steps : Meet your “Kids-In-The-Classroom”

Now for the third step. I know in my last post I spoke about THE BIG 5 as sort of like government that governs you.  In a moment, I’m going to re-introduce you to those BIG 5 personality traits and then walk you through the check-in and negotiations.  As I do, and for the purposes of THIS exercise, I’d like you to now think about these BIG 5 personality traits as KIDS IN A CLASSROOM(I personally imagine them as a class of teenagers because that is the age group that resonates with me.  Teens tend to embody precautious resistance, passion, rebelliousness, and discovery.  You can, however, imagine the BIG 5 at whatever age your loving heart compels you to, and please note, when you repeat this exercise, the way you envision them can be different each time.  We all know how BIG class sizes have become.  But you are in luck because your job is to focus on just these 5 kiddos.  Easy peasy! 

As I re-introduce you to them, I want you to really see who they are.  Notice not only how they show up for you but be sure to observe even the minute details of their character, like how they stand, dress, sound and engage with the other kids in the classroom. 


And to make things a little FUN for you, I’ve added a little enrichment piece.   I’ve listed a song that might resonate with a specific kid in the classroom, like an anthem or just a song on their playlist of many…only you would know though because they represent that part of you.  So, if you like music and feel like playing along, imagine also, as I re-introduce each “kid in the classroom”, them getting pumped-up and ready for their day with the song I’ve listed… or maybe another one that pops into your mind. (You might need to pull them up on the ole iTunes so you can really experience what makes each “kids in the classroom” tick.)

As I re-introduce you to these BIG 5 traits now, really see who they are.  Imagine:

  • What they look like
  • What gender are they?
  • How do they stand?
  • How do they dress?
  • How do they show up or engage in: problem-solving, decision making, in an emergency situation, etc.?
  • What age are they? What maturity level do they operate from?
  • Any other details about them that really allows you to feel compassion for them.
  • You might even give them each a name. You can use alliteration and give them a sort of Viking name or a name that connects to their description, to help you remember who they are.  (like Odina the Open – Odina means “mountain” and a natural feature that can lift a person up and embodies the feeling of vast, wide openness.)

Ok, now remember that you are here to both meet them and to “take their temperature” around how they are likely to cooperate with the shifts you have in mind. I thought it might be helpful to provide you with a journal worksheet where you can make note of your engagement with THE BIG 5.  Click here to access my handy-dandy OCEAN CHECK-IN FORM, then print and get to it!  

Are you ready to meet your “primo team-o”? Here we go…


(Song: Rocks out to: Hit the Ground Running by Alice Merton)

Openness is that part of each of us that expresses a willingness to try new things,

explore curiosities about the world and other people, explores a broad range of interests, and manages how adventurous they are willing to be and how enthusiastic to learn new things, and eager to partake in new experiences.

  1. When someone ranges high in Openness, they are led by their curious spirit and are called to adventure. Individuals with highly Open Personality traits lean into focusing on tackling new challenges through exploring abstract thinking and their imagination. 
  2. A person low in Openness tends to be resistant to change and new thinking. They often express a reluctancy toward new things, abstract thinking, new routines, and are not likely to be driven by curiosity or imagination but rather something else.

Keep in mind how this “kid-in-the-classroom” might affect the change you want to make.

  • Bring the change you wish to make to the forefront of your mind.
  • Imagine holding a private meeting with this “kid-in-the-classroom”
  • Write down any notes you think will be helpful
  • Assess this kid in the classroom by measuring where they fall on a comfort scale
    of 1-10, where 1 is most uncomfortable and 10 is extremely comfortable. (Jot it down on PDF)


(Song: The Resist Stance by Bad Religion)

There is a part of each of us that lands somewhere on the range of Conscientiousness. This trait decides how significant or not it is to consider our time, thought and efforts, accountability  to others, reliability, and how we consistently approach managing external versus internal commitments.

  1. Individuals who measure high in conscientiousness pay attention to detail and are willing to spend time preparing. They have capacities to stick with made plans and act with integrity. They find comfort in being thoughtful about how actions or behaviors impact others around them and are adept at drawing connections, considering risk and being mindful of the collective whole. 
  2. Individuals who land lower on the Conscientiousness scale tend to not tolerate structure, routine, and planning time. They are also more likely to care less about running late to meetings, returning things back where they belong and meeting necessary or assigned hard deadlines.

Keep in mind how this “kid-in-the-classroom” might affect the change you want to make.

  • Bring the change you wish to make to the forefront of your mind.
  • Imagine holding a private meeting with this “kid-in-the-classroom”
  • Write down any notes you think will be helpful
  • Assess this kid in the classroom by measuring where they fall on a comfort scale
    of 1-10, where 1 is most uncomfortable and 10 is extremely comfortable. (Jot it down on PDF)