Giving Change a Chance

This month, I’m taking on the challenges that come with New Year’s Resolutions in order to figure out exactly how one can make sure she makes good on her promises, goals, and resolutions. Read my past posts and weigh in!

Change. It’s a funny thing that humans both crave and resist. By nature we’re restless, indecisive people. We’re tired of the car we have now, but seek a new car that has the same features as the old. When you search for a new pair of boots for winter, you want something fresh, but don’t want to stray too far from the boots you had last year (or is that just me?).

January for me is proof that we are all resisting change. Change that forces us to come out of our comfort zone and step into the unknown. Often, when we’re trying to change something about ourselves, we find it incredibly hard. Maybe the change itself isn’t as hard as the challenge to commit to ridding ourselves of what the old version of the habit was like and how comfortable it feels. It’s easier for us to return to what we know so quickly that we barely give change a chance.

Take exercising, for example. Let’s say that your revamped routine—your 2011 routine simply consisted of the elliptical and maybe a fitness class here and there. For 2012 you add in pilates, weights, and spinning. As you go about your new routine, challenges arise: you test your limits and take chances. After a week or so of the new routine, you say, “Forget this. I like what I know. It’s fine.” It wasn’t necessarily the new routine; it’s the fact that you are unwilling to take on the challenge and push yourself. And this is ultimately what gets in the way of your success.

Maybe what it comes down to is that Americans are too much a culture of ease. We like things to be fast, easy, and simple. That’s why there’s a Starbucks on every street corner and we live on meals that are ready-made in five minutes or less. We have a reputation for wanting the greatest output with as little input as possible. It’s easier to drive up to a window and buy a meal than it is to rearrange our schedules to buy the groceries, to chop vegetables, and then cook the meal.

On the other hand, we’re also a society of classic overachievers, striving to do so much in every aspect of our lives that personal goals take last priority. We want to be the best at our jobs, to fulfill our kids’ every need, to be a perfect wife, to be the most understanding employee, to be beautiful, skinny, smart— I could go on and on. Our culture is driven by a false sense of security surrounding success, and the easiest success to measure is the sort that can be seen and therefore noted by others. We thrive on recognition and knowing that we’ve worked as hard as possible. But by stretching ourselves beyond the limit, we shelve our personal goals.

Now let’s practice last week’s self-compassion lesson. Be kind to yourself! Celebrate every small achievement. Put your personal goals first. And finally, know you will get through a change. Remind yourself to embrace change. At first this might feel weird, but it will get easier and you will be happier in the months to come.

Mental, physical, financial—whatever your goals are, working through the un-comfortableness will be worth it. Be patient, be kind, and welcome the change. You are worth it!

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