“Habits gradually change the face of one’s life as time changes one’s physical face; and one does not know it.”
Change is hard and there are many reasons why it can be fleeting. In another post I shared a favorite quote from Anne Dillard, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”(1) We are already coming to the end of January. Studies have found that about 80% of New Year’s resolutions lose steam by February. So how can we be different? How can we look at ourselves and our lives and make lasting changes that matter?
Dr. Linda Mintle says there are two things that will help you know if you are ready to make a change:
1. How important is it?
If it is not important to you, you won’t make a change. People change when they are ready. Nike’s “Just Do It” doesn’t work for most of us. Sometimes our goals or resolutions are things we feel we should do or someone has told us we should do but we don’t really feel it’s important. Interestingly, 80% of us don’t follow the counsel of a doctor. The doctor may tell us to drink more water, exercise, change our diet, or get more sleep but until we feel it’s needed, it probably won’t happen. Telling people to change does not necessarily bring change.
We can reconsider the importance of making a change by thinking through the pros and cons. Seeing both the potential negative and positive consequences can help us realize how important a change could be.
2. Do you have the confidence to do it?
We often know something is important and want to make a change but feel stuck. It takes lots of practice, grace, and continued effort to do things in a different way. While it may not occur to us, we often lack the confidence needed to consistently create new habits.
The way we gain confidence is by determining what’s getting in the way. What are the barriers blocking change? For example, it seems obvious but if you want to eliminate sweets from your diet and your kitchen counter and cabinets are full of sweets it will be hard to stop eating them. If you want to take a walk every day but don’t have proper shoes and can’t a find a time to go for a walk, it will be hard to make a change. We need to get ready for change and have a reason to change. Career Coach, Kathy Caprino says, “most of us simply can’t bring about significant change in our lives if one key thing is missing - understanding at a deep level why you operate the way you do.”
We need to get ready for change and have a reason to change.
When I was a girl, I wanted to become a better swimmer. It was hard for me because I didn’t like the feeling of putting my head under the water. I especially did not like the feeling of opening my eyes under the water. This was before swimming goggles were commonplace.
After several years and many different teachers I finally got more comfortable with being under water. The next step was to learn how to go off the diving boards. This brought up another barrier. I was afraid of heights. My mother was patient and found yet one more teacher to try to help me. His approach was different. After seeing what I could do and helping me gain confidence in my swimming abilities, he helped me learn how to go off the low diving board. Then to my surprise, he told me that I was ready for the next step. He announced that now I was going to go off the high diving board. I was very hesitant but he was confident and reminded me of all the things I had already done. He walked me over to the high dive and got me going up the steps. Then he went in the water to be there for me after I jumped.
I got to the top and froze at the far end of the board, away from the water. To this day I can remember that moment. My feet were like cement and my heart was pounding. I was beginning to forget how to breathe. I could not get myself to walk to the end of the board or walk back down the stairs to solid ground. It seemed as if time stood still. Then all of the sudden, I sensed that something was happening. My teacher was walking up the stairs of the high diving board. He got to the top and was somehow standing right next to me. He took my hand and we walked to the end of the board and jumped off together.
Sometimes the thing we need most in order to make a change, is for someone to go with us. I want you to know that you are not alone. We are all walking through this year together. Better yet, Jesus is here with us. He is our faithful friend and teacher. He has promised to never leave us and to always be with us. He will help give us the confidence we need to step into whatever our day holds. He will help us make changes in our life; changes that can help us be our best self.
“So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved grace, and we will find help.” Heb 4:16, CEV
Something to think about:
1. What routines do you currently rely on? What do you appreciate most about them? (2)
2. What new routine would you like to implement? (3)
3. How important is it to you?
4. How confident are you about it? What are the barriers that may make it hard for you? What can you do about it?
(1) See Standouts 2020 Blog Post
(2) From Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life, Anne Bogel
(3) Ibid, 124.