Yes? No? Maybe? Sometimes? I feel like a broken record as I reiterate that making any change can be hard. We all know that it can be more than worth the effort too. Some people are worn down by the “failures” of their prior efforts at change. Others are worried about what those changes will bring with them – besides the positives they’re looking for. And more are simply impatient for the changes to happen. This is why I encourage you, first and foremost, is to allow yourself to be exactly where you are in the process.
Simply wanting things to be different doesn’t magically make them happen. If only it were that simple. Likewise, knowing there’s a process to making successful changes also doesn’t solve the struggles. I’ve found that when I can remind myself that all of life – its up and downs – are part of the journey. Although apparently misattributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, we’ve probably all heard the sentence,
“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
I apply this idea to making changes. There are things you can learn along the way – those rocks that trip you up, the unexpected detour off your path, the storm that hides the trail you were following – all experiences, however difficult, can teach you things and help you down the road. If you’re engaged in the process, wherever you’re currently at – your patience and resilience will see you through.
Again often this is easier said than done. Regardless, please allow yourself to be exactly where you are – as I talked about in “Are You Ready?” You cannot hurry yourself into being ready, let alone be cajoled into changing. There are many factors that interfere with making changes and how you handle those can have a dramatic effect on your progress.
Recently I talked about “Listen to Understand” which was directed to our interactions with other people. The same approach and skills applied to an inner dialogue can provide insight into what is getting in our way to making the progress we want. Often this is when it becomes all the more challenging to remain nonjudgmental – to tell yourself that you’re just making excuses, or whining, or just stupid, lazy, or crazy, etc. Don’t – seriously stop yourself. Set backs are common, to be expected even – and we can take that opportunity to learn.
If you’re curious and questioning, you’re not making excuses – you’re searching, looking for what’s happening in your experience and how it impacts you. And it’s not necessarily all about the negative impact – it’s about your perspective, all of it. In our searching to understand, the solutions might elude us for a while. We gain an insight here or there – move forward some and hit a roadblock. “Rawr, I’m stuck (or back-sliding) again, why can’t I just do it right?”
We learn as we do. The challenges we each face aren’t laid out with all their facets in black and white like an assembly manual. We search and discover something a little deeper, hoping this will be the key to clear our path – which it likely will do for a little while. Then it’s time to dig again – uncover more of our tendencies to reveal the next steps.
Our state of mind when we reach that stage of readiness to change can be so inspiring – even exhilarating. The whole house needs organizing – I’ll do it all. Yet think about what your reaction would be if someone who’s not been exercising said, “I’m going to work out 5 days a week for an hour each time.” You’d probably cringe, worrying how they might hurt themselves, and maybe that they’re going to set themselves up for possible failure. It can be hard to take things slowly. To approach things methodically might feel counterintuitive to the energy and motivation. “Oh at long last I’m finally ready and need to take advantage right now.”
Although I can guide you along the path to making changes – and caution you about some common pitfalls – this is your path. Sometimes we need to have the experience for ourselves. There’s nothing wrong about that – as long as you continue to move through the stages of making those lasting changes you’re searching for. Try to keep the pessimism at bay, and encourage the curiosity – about yourself and what works for you. The changes you want can be achieved – with some time, effort, and patience (remember, patience comes to those who wait for it!) – I believe in you. 🙂