Happy New Year everyone! I hope your year is off to a wonderful start. As I was walking my dog this morning, I thought about how much my life has changed since I’m moved to Phoenix almost 11 years ago. It made me reflect on the many lessons I’ve learned about change and I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you.
Now by Kalyan Kanuri from Flickr (Creative Commons License)
Change is a Commitment
When I was in early recovery, I remember people saying, “New playgrounds, new playmates, new play things.” And that’s absolutely true. When you make a change in your life it often requires letting go of people, places, and things from the way your life was. So if your New Year’s resolution is to be healthier, the first step is probably getting the junk food out of your pantry. If you’re going away to college and you want to make over yourself in the process, you shouldn’t bring your old clothes with you because the risk is too great that you will end up back in your old patterns.
I’m working on committing to change right now as I’m writing this post. This morning I force myself to raise my sit/stand desk to work from a standing position and I turned on my dictation software because I think, once I get used to it, it will be easier to write this way.
Sometimes Change is Hard
I’m not going to sugar coat this: sometimes making changes is hard and even scary. It requires doing things differently and being mindful not to slip back into old behaviors. And sometimes there is even grief involved because you’re letting go of how your life used to be.
Every time I move to a new place or a new job, it’s excruciatingly painful for me, even when it’s in my best interests. It takes me a while to settle in and feel comfortable but I know in the big picture it’s for the best so I muddle through, knowing that I’ll be fine in a few weeks.
Sometimes Change is Easy
I’m often a person who will resist change, kicking and screaming, until it’s way too painful not to change, but change doesn’t always have to be hard or painful – especially if you’re ready for it. Sometimes I’m excited for the changes that are to come, like with my minimalism projects. When change comes easily, it often feels more like an adventure, or at least a seamless process.
A few years ago I was diagnosed with acid reflux, and my a doctor gave me the list of dietary recommendations which included giving up high fat, tomato products, not eating within 3 hours of bedtime, and giving up caffeine. I told him I would do everything on the list except give up caffeine. There was no way I was giving up my coffee. Six months later, I still had problems with acid reflux and so I relented. My office mates were so frightened of me my first week off of coffee, but because I was ready to go through the withdrawal, it really wasn’t that bad. I had a mild headache for a week and it took about 3 weeks to stop feeling tired all the time, but then I was fine. (I quit caffeine for probably 2 years, but I only lasted about 2 months into law school before I was back on coffee again.)
Change Requires Risk
No matter how you feel about making a change in your life, it always requires risk – risk of failure, risk of being uncomfortable, etc. When you change behaviors, it may change the way you feel about yourself or possibly the way you view the world. I don’t know about you, but generally for me change is scary and I often resist it just to maintain the familiarity of the status quo, even when the status quo is bad. But one thing I’ve learned is that when I’m afraid of making a change, it usually means I’m making a change for the better and often in a big way. With great risk often comes great rewards.
I’m not really one for making New Year’s resolutions but rather I use the start of a new year to think about how I want to be different or better a year from now.
I wish you happiness and success for 2015. Make it a good one.