The Art of Change
Change can be one of the most intimidating and scary undertakings we face. No wonder. We are neurologically and physically wired to resist change. Our brain likes to conserve energy and any change takes a lot of energy, so we try to avoid it. So it all makes sense, but how does that help us move forward with those things that we want to change? I’ve written about this quite a bit in the past but I think it bears approaching from a different angle as most of us, if not all of us, continue to work at changing something in our lives. Being plastic, or mastering the art of change can be life altering. If we can get good at change, we can hopefully have more autonomy and thus joy.
So the real question is, how do we set things up in our lives to make change easier?
- Get real
Be honest with yourself. I don’t mean this in a reprimanding kind of way. Rather, figure out what is really important to you. Being vague with yourself, and not putting the time and energy into knowing what you want and need, will only lead to fuzzy and dissatisfying results. The clearer you can be about your goals and the steps you need to get there, the more satisfaction you will have when you take on new habits and change. Sometimes you need to talk to a few different professionals in order to get the clarity you need. Do some research or shopping in order to gain certainty about your direction or goals. But own it, don’t look to others to give you the answers you seek. And be OK with changing your path in midstream if you find a better solution. Just be really clear on what you are working toward so that the steps you take are all leading you to that place.
- Decide on your financial and emotional investment up front
As you consider what you are looking for, decide what you are willing to invest in time, money and emotional energy. Establishing that up front will help you to figure out where your priorities lie. If you are willing to invest 10 minutes a day, or $50/month in something, find an answer that meets that need. There isn’t any right or wrong answer, only one that fits for you. If people can start to establish some of their baseline goals along with their willingness to invest in them, it will save them a lot of frustration and time in the end.
- Make it an “I get to” rather than an “I have to”
Once you figure out the two steps outlined above, find and discover a win/win. What I mean by this is find something you want to do, rather than something you have to do. In other words, whatever it is, if you want to eat better, find a food, a meal prep, a method, that speaks to you, that you actually want to do. Don’t do something only because you think you should. That most likely won’t work in the long run. And stop looking for the perfect diet or the perfect food. Find a regimen that you like and however small of a change, just hang with it for a bit. If it is food, perhaps decide to make your favorite healthy stew or soup next week, and just start there. If it is exercise, look around and see who offers it. Is it a dance class or even a cooking class? Is it a weekly walk with your friend along the river? Choose something that you actually want to do that aligns with your long term goals. It doesn’t have to be big, but make it something you want to do.
Being the person we all strive to be comes down to our flexibility, the ability to look at ourselves, our likes and dislikes, our motivations, and our commitment to investing in the process. Your success depends on your willingness to find some answers for yourself even before you find a coach or practitioner to help you.
The clearer you are with yourself and your goals, the happier you will be with the result. Getting good at change takes practice, so consider you are always practicing at change rather than the arrival of meeting your specific goal.