Change is taking centre stage in my life again, both the kind of change starts with a conscious decision and the kind of change that life sometimes just throws at you. It is making me revisit how I deal with change and how I think about it.
Change is something we are pretty used to dealing with because it is very much part of life. It is when we go about changing something in our lives that we struggle with that we meet with the most obstacles though. Sometimes it seems you can work on changing something for ages and you just never end up getting to the end of the process. Sometimes it even feels like you have taken several steps backwards. Sometimes things just fall into place as if by divine order.
What is that makes or breaks success when it comes to change?
It is not so hard to understand why forced change happens whether we want to or not. If there are few options to opt out or to get side-tracked we simply have to go along with it. If the change is conscious but the payoff is far away in the future most of us also have a pretty fair idea of why we do not succeed with changing a lot of the time. We understand that as humans we have a tendency to go for quick payoffs rather than something that is going to pay off further down the line even if the reward will be greater then. We would rather have our reward now than have to wait for a future moment we cannot quite picture or feel yet.
So, how can you stack the odds in your favour?
Understanding that you are essentially wired to want your cake and eat it now helps go some way to finding what to work around what is standing in your way. It also helps to understand that we have a tendency to not want to change until the pain of not changing becomes so great that it tips the scale in favour of the change. To weigh up the pros and cons though may not be enough if you cannot get yourself to emotionally, not just logically, associate the cons with why you want the change to happen. Most of the time, the change process itself is not the biggest hurdle, it is getting ourselves to see all the things that will help tip the scale in favour of the change.
If you are trying to get fit it can be hard to see the reason for needing to spend hours exercising, and it may be hard to believe that it will have the actual outcome you desire. But, if you can begin to list the things that are already problematic for you, like being out of breath when you walk up stairs or it becoming increasingly hard for you to move, and you start keeping track of all those issues while mentally tying them, and the emotions you feel when you think about them, to the change you want to happen, then you stand a much better chance to change effectively and to make the change stick.
If there is something you have been wanting to change for a long time but you have been unable to, ask yourself what it is you need to start paying attention to that is negative about staying where you are and not changing. Spend some time to find out how the negative emotions you have about not changing affect you, and spend a little more time being negative about not changing to help tip the scales a bit more in your favour.
I have wanted to get back into singing for years now but I just never do, and I realised about a year ago that my main reason for that is that I am not ready to go through the ‘pain’ (the hard work) that it would take for me to get my singing voice back again. It was my daughter who said to me that if it makes me unhappy not to sing I should just go for it, and that if I sounded too bad she would shut her door and turn the music up. ‘Sing to your heart’s content”, she said because it would make me feel good just to sing again. She also added that if it makes me feel good but I felt I sounded awful it may just be enough for me to get stuck into actually working on practicing my singing once again so I can get better. Smart kid that one.