The thought of my face wrinkling and my boobs sagging, the thought of maturing on the exterior yet remaining immature on the interior, is enough to make me want to change. Change is the only constant in life. Change is what will happen regardless of your intervention, so you might as well take charge and make the changes you want to see in your life. But how do you change from wanting to change to actually changing? You need a plan of action. Here are some strategies that will help you change the way you change.
1. Change the way you see change. Even if change is good for you, it doesn’t make it less scary. The uncertainty of what lies ahead makes the journey of transition fearful yet simultaneously exciting. However exciting it may be, many still fearfully cling to the old. Imagine if our ancestors stuck to what was tried and true. We’d still be hunters and scavengers. Our ability to adapt has kept the human race alive for this long. No other animal can survive outside of its natural habitat, it has to be replicated. Mankind can survive in a plethora of varying habitats because of our ability to change. So when you look at change in this way, then change is only natural and change is only human.
2. Change is gradual. Typically, we try to make drastic changes. Earthquakes may seem to happen instantaneously but they don’t. Gradual, unseen changes in the earth’s tectonic plates create them. Change will begin to brew slowly, it will happen gradually, until you reach the threshold, the tipping point, the brink. Nothing transforms overnight. Don’t rush the process. Also don’t retard the process. Know yourself enough to know when you are procrastinating due to fear. Break the process up into chewable sizes. Change one thing at a time. Start small. All of those little changes will add up to a few major changes.
3. You don’t break your habits, you change your habits. Habits need to be replaced so you don’t fall back into old patterns. Let’s say you want to quit smoking but you smoke during your breaks to reduce work stress. Well, you can take a walk or watch a funny video instead. I used to explode when angry or pretend like I wasn’t and explode later. Now after much practice, I constructively express anger not explode. I didn’t break the habit of being angry but changed the habit of how I dealt with it. So you could think of change as a transference. The key is realizing why you developed these destructive habits and transform them into constructive habits.
4. Change is paradoxically permanent and temporary. Doubts will creep into your head. You might think your old self will come back to haunt you or your changes won’t last. Well, to cure your doubts think of a blast from the past. Do you still wear neon spandex or think (insert name of lame band here) is so cool? Open up a photo album and see the many versions of yourself in the different stages of your life. The changes you are making now are necessary for where you are in your life at this very moment. Your next chapter of life will call for a different set of changes. So get comfortable with change, it will always come and go.
5. Change doesn’t mean perfection, it means improvement. Even though the iPhone is considered the perfect mobile device, there are constant upgrades, some necessary some not. Too often we strive for perfection. You are perfectly imperfect so stop beating yourself up. Perfectionism won’t help you change but it will help you create a hostile attitude towards yourself. Know which changes are necessary and unnecessary. Is your chosen way of being truly detrimental to yourself and others or do you feel you ”shouldn’t” be or behave in such a way because of societal conditioning? Be sure that you are changing for yourself, after all if you don’t want to change no one else can make you.
6. Change takes heart. Change must have a deep purpose. You must have a real reason to change, a goal, a drive, a burning passion. Once you discover what this is, keep a symbol or an image around as a reminder. Let that purpose be your motivation. Without one, you will forget why you are changing and more than likely quit when you encounter obstacles. Commit to changing wholeheartedly. Have a change of heart!
I hope you will take the plunge and make the changes you have been waiting for, whether it’s going back to school, following your passion, growing personally, learning to love or making that big move. Don’t hold back! Above all else, keep dwelling in the cave.
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This is the first series of articles on change. Keep dwelling with me for more on this topic!