Most people have things in their lives that they want to change. These could be old habits, addictions or something they want to overcome. However, wanting to change something is only the first part of dealing with it. Doing something to change it is the second part.
Consider an athlete in the Olympics who is competing as a sprinter in the 100 meter hurdles final. He has trained, he has worked out, he has prepared himself physically as well as mentally. He knows that as he runs, there will be hurdles on the track, but he also knows that if he doesn’t run, he can never win. His focus isn’t on the hurdles - it is on the finish line. Sure, the hurdles are there and he will have to clear them before he progresses to the next one, but with each step that he takes, and each hurdle that he clears, the finish line will come closer and closer.
The hurdles are set in place with the intention of them being cleared. The finish line is intended to be crossed, but unless he actually starts the race, focuses on the finish line, and clears every hurdle that comes up, he will not finish.
If you have things in your life that you would like to change, or see completed, hen the decision to start the race is entirely up to you. It is your race and you are the only competitor. All you need to do is start running, clear each hurdle as it comes up, but if you keep your focus on the finish you will win, and you will gain the prize.
I regularly write quotes on Facebook. They are not just vague time wasting comments, but comments that are intended to provoke thought and inspiration in people. One of the recent quotes was “You are very influential. You can influence yourself to succeed or fail.” After writing that quote I got to thinking. How influential are we really. Who do we need to influence?
I read an article in a book by John Maxwell recently that I have listed below:
“A Middle-Eastern mystic said, ‘I was a revolutionary when I was young and all my prayer to God was: ‘Lord, give me the energy to change the world.’ As I approached middle age and realised that my life was half gone without changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come into contact with me, just my family a friends, and I shall be satisfied.’ Now that I am an old man and my days are numbered, I have begun to see how foolish I have been. My one prayer now is: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change myself.’ If I had prayed this right from the start, I would not have wasted my life.” (Maxwell 1993, p. 50)
I wonder - what is your prayer? Who do you want to change? Our natural tendency is to want to change everyone around us, and the last person we want to change is usually ourselves. Why is that? I would say it is because change can be painful, and it requires work and even discomfort. When someone goes on a diet, or goes to the gym, sacrifices need to be made and work needs to be done to bring about the change desired. However, one the change has been achieved, we acknowledge the sacrifice was worth it.
I’ll reinforce the quote from earlier. “You are very influential. You can influence yourself to succeed or fail.” Which direction will your change take…?
How have you gone with your New Years Resolution (NYR)? Statistics show that after 6 months, more than 50% of people who made a serious NYR have failed to see them through. After 12 months, more than 90% of people have failed. It makes you wonder why with those kind of statistics one would even bother thinking about New Year's resolution? In January, I shared techniques for setting a new years resolution that will help you stay focused. However, the thing we need to keep in mind is that a NYR is all about change – serious change, and what better time to start making a change in your life than today. Anyone who sets a NYR is a person who wants to see change. New Years Day is only one day. You don’t need to wait until the next one comes around to make changes that will improve your kind of life. Do it now!
Anyone who has ever tried to change any part of his or her thinking, emotions, or behaviour knows that it can be a difficult task. The question that we need to ask ourselves is: Why do we have such a hard time making important changes in our lives?
Let’s face it. Change is difficult. There is an old saying. “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is”. Quick and easy methods that we so often see can often leave you feeling like a failure. Not only does change bring challenges, we have to face hurdles and baggage that may have been in our way for many years, maybe even from our childhood.
Types of baggage include low self-esteem, anger, fear of failure, perfectionism, a need to control, and need to please. These cause us to respond in our thoughts, feelings and behaviours as we would have when we were children, rather than how we should as adults. These behaviours, and the emotions that associated with them are learned, and are often difficult to break through, although far from impossible.
Foundations for Change
Change starts when we come to realise that it is too painful to continue doing what we are doing. In life we are all motivated by two things - pain and pleasure. Everything we do is either out of our desire to gain pleasure or our need to avoid pain. We will actually do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure.
Pain can be an incredible motivator for change. I remember stepping on a broken piece of cup a few months ago. The direction my foot travelled (down) changed rapidly once I experienced enough pain to register the fact that something needed to change. Now you might say, “Well that’s obvious!” but that is exactly how things are in our life also.
Change also requires that you exercise courage. Change requires risk, and this can often scare people away from going for it. The courage to change means that we are going to have to be willing to acknowledge and confront certain aspects of our lives, and this is something that some people don’t find very easy.
Because change is uncertain, the only way to change is to take a leap of faith that involves a fundamental belief in the vision of who, what, and where we want to be in the future.
One thing we need is a realisation that hurdles and obstacles to change exist, and a determination to clear those hurdles and obstacles is necessary as we pursue our goals.
... Part 2 next month...