As you may have figured out from recent posts, my family has made a conscious decision to challenge the idea that we must conform to some ideal “American Dream”; and therefore, we’ve faced more than a few opportunities to embrace change in the last few months. (Did you like how I phrased that? Very positive, huh?)
In reality, if you break it down like a basic math equation, change is what you make it. Most do not really like change. In fact, many do not change until the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of changing. I don’t know about my husband, but I know this is when I arrived at my Ah-Ha moment. The bills started coming very close to equaling the amount of income each month and finally I just said “Why? This is ridiculous.” And finally, I was ready. Ready to – and for – change. Ready to sell everything – including the house – so that I’d have some freedom with my finances. Freedom to go on a Disney vacation with the kiddo. Did you know that 24 months without our cable package affords us the chance to go on a real vacation??? On top of that…we walk more, we play more, we relax in more creative ways – like writing songs and knitting scarves – instead of flipping through a gazillion of useless channels each night.
“But change is hard!”, you say. (I hear your whiny voice in my head. Oh..wait. That was my whiny voice. Sorry.) Yes. I agree. Change is hard. Trust me, I’m not immune to this thought. But you know what? Change is only hard if you stop thinking of ways to make it not hard. Change can be exciting. It can be a ‘growth opportunity’. It can be, actually, very very fun. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that change is more exciting and more fun when one gets the opportunity to decide to change. Admittingly, when change is thrust upon us, we clench up. Our amygdala releases a ton of cortisol which then rushes to our neo-cortex and, well, we act like idiots. So, unless you enjoy acting like an idiot, here are some ways I’ve learned to embrace change. (I’ve behaved like an idiot on more than one occasion.)
1) Read Chris Gillebeau’s book “The Art of Non-Conformity” . If you are trying to save some dough, you can most likely get a copy at the library or at a used book store. There are at least four copies at my favorite used book store at all times. I guess people read it, decide it’s too difficult to become a non-conformist, and sell their copy. (As did I a few years back. Then my cousin sent me a copy about three months ago and I decided to keep this one.) This book simply highlights how we’ve all been fed a lie about how we ‘should’ live our lives. Otherwise known as The Good Ol’ American Dream (the 1950’s version, not the Declaration of Independence version.) Chris does a great job at pointing out that change is difficult, but you have to power through the fear and do it anyway. It’s a good read, although, I suspect anyone my age and older will think “What a slacker” as I did the first few times I read it. But wait for it: If you truly want to live by your own rules…if you really are ready to make that change…it doesn’t matter what age you are, it will finally click.
2) Feel the fear and do it anyway. Okay, so fear can be a good thing…such as when the tornado sirens are going off or you’ve just been warned a massive hurricane is on its way. Fear, if framed correctly, can inspire action. And that action can be negative or it can be positive. A negative reaction to fear is usually present in resistance or even paralysis. A positive reaction to fear closely resembles that ‘excited-scared’ feeling and usually is present when you are about to embark on something ‘new’ for you. Be excited-scared, but get up and act anyway. This is “inspired action”.
3) Stay silent about your plans. I have mixed feelings about the concept of sharing goals with others. Some believe this sharing can hold you accountable. Maybe if trying to lose weight, or training for a marathon. But, I have learned that when my goals challenge the status-quo, all kinds of people come up with all kinds of reasons why I can’t or shouldn’t. So, I say “Stay Quiet” and let those people live their lives while you live yours. (Here’s a great TED Talk to watch)
4) Find your village. Aligning with like-minded folks whom have been in the same situation you are in can really help you embrace change. I started seeking out people online who thought the same way I was leaning. Bloggers like Josh Becker, and Tsh Oxenreider, and Adam Baker. Documentaries like “I’m Fine, Thanks!” and “Too Big To Fail”. If your friends are buying bigger houses every five years, and new cars every two, and you desire a debt-free life, it’s okay to have a drink with them or attend the annual BBQ at Bob’s house, but…go back to point #3….and remember to listen to those ‘really’ in your village. Who knows, you might just inspire them by your actions more than your words.
5) Use the phrase “Everything happens for a reason” sparingly. Here’s the deal: Thoughts create. Thoughts create action, things, reality, etc. So, if you believe in that sort of thing, then everything happens because you created it in your mind first. I usually reserve “Everything happens for a reason” when I have really considered whether or not I was in control of either preventing or creating what has happened. I’m sure, on some esoteric level, I had a hand in it at some point along the way, but at times, it really isn’t obvious to me at what point my thoughts came into play…so then I say “Everything happens for a reason” and I go back to point #2.
This, by all means, is not an exhaustive list on how to embrace change. And, I’m certainly no expert, although I wish I was. But, as I said, these are just my top five most productive ways I’ve found to embrace change. I hope they help you.