With all the change in our lives it’s fair to ask why anyone would intentionally look for more of it! Responding to change requires additional emotional and physical energy – two resources often in short supply.
Since change happens whether we are ready for it or not, maybe it’s time we transform our attitude toward change. How might we understand change as offering opportunities to pursue goals worthy of our lives rather than chaos-producing events to be feared or avoided? How might we seek change that matters to us rather than scrambling in response to the changes imposed on us?
Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying
This powerful quote from The Shawshenk Redemption by Stephen King cuts to the heart of what’s at stake in our efforts to transform our understanding of change. Most of us have a choice. We can spend our lives pursuing life-giving goals and living our values or we can let life happen to us with a victim mindset.
Three Steps Toward Embracing Change
If you are ready to transform your attitude toward change and begin a journey of pursuing goals and dreams, then consider the following practices:
Are you living on ‘auto-pilot’ discounting seemingly random ideas or feelings? Those random thoughts may be your subconscious mind telling you something. Practice being aware of those thoughts. Keep a journal. Take time to reflect on them. For ideas like, “I should write a book,” or, “I’d love to sail across Lake Michigan,” or, “I’m bored with my job,” ask yourself:
“What’s going on in my life that generated that idea?”
“What am I trying to tell myself?”
“What’s one step I could take to explore that idea?”
“How would I feel if I honored that thought and followed through?”
“What’s keeping me from pursuing it?”
Negative thoughts also need reflection, especially any that involve illegal activities or harm to self or others. In these cases, contact a counselor or therapist right away for help.
For other negative thoughts like “I hate my job,” or “Why did I agree to this assignment?” ask yourself:
“What are the characteristics of my ideal job?”
“Who am I trying to please?”
“What could I remove from my schedule to focus on what matters?”
“What am I waiting for?”
“Which one of my personal values isn’t being honored?”
Taking time to cultivate awareness honors all those feelings. Once aware of them, it’s time for the next practice.
No one likes feeling humiliated. As we age, we especially avoid saying or doing things that may lead to embarrassment. The result of ‘embarrassment avoidance’ is that we narrow our possibilities to areas and skills for which we feel competent. We limit possibilities. We blind ourselves to opportunities for personal growth. We lose a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world.
Consider these questions to reinvigorate your curiosity.
“How could I learn more about that?”
“Who’s approval am I seeking?”
“How would I feel if I acted on my curiosity?”
“What is the inner self-talk I’m hearing?”
“How might it be fun to learn more?”
Our thoughts have the power to dictate our behavior and our behavior impacts what we believe about ourselves and the world. The fact that you are reading this blog and reflecting on your attitude about change has already begun the process of transforming your perspective. Congratulations!
Awareness and curiosity pay off when you develop action steps. Many times, actions steps may not lead very far (see my personal example below). That’s okay! The point is embracing change to deepen and enrich your life.
On the way to work, you find yourself recalling your enjoyment of working with clay. (Awareness). After reflecting on that memory, you take time exploring local craft stores and discover an art studio offering sculpting classes. (Curiosity). You set aside concerns of embarrassment and register for the class. (Action) You love it and discover you’re good at it. The owner notices your gifts and offers you a position leading a future class.
Here's an example from my own life.
After graduating from college, I got a job in Mansfield, Ohio. I found myself thinking about sailing (I forget why). Curious, I looked for opportunities to sail and found the Mansfield Sailing Club. I registered for their course on boating safety. Shortly after completing the class, I accepted a job transfer to Massachusetts. Two years later, I became friends with a person who owned a 27-foot sailboat. He invited me to be a mate on his sailboat for an overnight regatta from Narragansett Bay to Martha’s Vineyard. It was a blast!
Did I go on to become a master sailor-no. I did learn that open ocean sailing makes me sick! Not the most inspirational change story. Yet, the experience broadened my horizons and led to other great friendships.
Seeking change will do that for you, too. Who knows? One seemingly random idea may lead you to a new career or relationship! Awareness-Curiosity-Action. The possibilities are endless. For help exploring the changes in your life, schedule a Welcome to Coaching session with me, today. I look forward to meeting you.