All of us want to change. We want to be better. At least we claim we do. As we walk down the street or stand in line at the grocery store, we imagine things we might do to improve our health, energy, appearance, or social standing. We are longing to thrive and live lives full of action.
But too often our ideas die on the back of our tongue. They disappear in the wind. Why is it so hard for us to transform thought into action? Why is it so difficult to make positive change in our lives?
The reason it is so hard to change is because we are mired in a system. Patterns have developed over the years. As we’ve told ourselves the same story, believed the same ideas, and done the same things over and over again, they have been reinforced so much that they have become who we are. It’s like driving the same route to work everyday. The same turns, the same pattern, day in and day out.
So, to make a change is to turn against this huge tide of momentum. And it is hard. We don’t like hard things. It is one of the reasons our brains develop systems. We’re trying to be safe and familiarity resembles safety.
The dichotomy of the human spirit is that we long to be more but we also long to be the same. We want to change as long as it doesn’t cost us anything!
The result is a lot of lip-service. A lot of dead ends. A lot of attempted shortcuts that we believe would transform us without really changing us.
The Horse and The Cart
But life doesn’t work that way. If we are serious about change, there are three things we need to do.
First, we need to take ownership of our choices. We can’t blame others or moan about our circumstances. However real these may be, you won’t change by submitting your authority over to them. There are three things you can control and we change by adjusting one of them. We don’t change by waiting for others to change. We don’t change by moving geography.
Secondly, we need to understand that the horse comes before the cart. What this means is that there are no shortcuts. Change is hard work. One of the reasons our plans don’t turn into action is because we want there to be some magic that transforms us in an instant. We give up on New Years Resolutions because they require work. The work comes before the change.
Lastly, and perhaps most important, we have to truly understand why we want to change. If we want to change just to escape our circumstances, we won’t change. The motivation factor just isn’t high enough. We need to find a value deep down that truly speaks to who we are. Nothing else will motivate us through the Mood Curve. We need a proper vision.
From that point, it is as simple as setting goals and following through. As a friend of mine says, “just do the thing!” If we want to change, it is our mindset, our posture, our perspective that is the biggest obstacle. Once we get a grasp on those, the actions themselves are relatively easy. We do not stay the same because we cannot take the physical steps of change. It’s the mental ones that keep us shackled.
We have to decide what is worth our perseverance. What is worthy of our suffering? The vision you commit to, a true vision of inherent goodness, will require you to persevere. Quitting is not a short cut, it is the long way around.
So, quit if you must. But just know, the journey continues, and it follows the path that it follows.