Making Change Doable
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
- Arthur Ashe
A new year is in sight and as many of you have, I’ve been thinking about making some changes. (Weird, how a calendar date brings about this way of thinking, isn’t it?) Most of these changes have to do with exercising and eating. In fact, this tends to be my focus most ‘new years’ but as I get older, I find that my motivation is shifting. At one time, a change in my exercise and eating habits was about how I looked. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t matter anymore but I can say that it matters less. I know that when I exercise consistently, I feel better. I have more energy, my perspective on work is more balanced, and life definitely is more positive. I would say the same is basically true when it comes to my eating habits. When I eat right, I feel better. And, the bottom line is…..feeling better allows me to do the things I want to do.
This isn't an earth shattering revelation. In fact, it is relatively simple and I think that is why it motivates me…..it’s simple. Prescribed diet and exercise plans are typically not simple. Sometimes we need them to get us going and some certainly provide needed education. However, at the end of the day, it all comes down to moving more and changing what and how much we eat…..really, it is that simple. The complicated part for me is when I get all caught up in the logistics—the how, where, when, how much, etc. It starts to feel really overwhelming. And, when I feel overwhelmed, I shut down and revert back to what I've always done. This year, I’m going to take Arthur’s advice. I’m going to figure out where I am now. Figure out what I already have around me to support my changes. And, then, do the best that I can amidst all the other parts of my life. This feels real and doable….and, simple. Bring on the New Year!
A Story of a Cloudy Day and the Silver Linings
Dark Cloud: My alarm doesn’t go off and I have to get ready for work at supersonic speed.
Silver Lining: I got an extra 45 minutes of beautiful, glorious sleep.
Dark Cloud: I spilled coffee on my shirt in my haste and have to change.
Silver Lining: That shirt looks horrible on me anyway, what was I thinking?
Dark Cloud: Something in my car is making a funny noise.
Silver Lining: My car gave me a warning sound instead of just spontaneously dying on me, giving me time to get it fixed.
Dark Cloud: It’s raining.
Silver Lining: I just bought a super sweet new umbrella!
Dark Cloud: I forgot it at home.
Silver Lining: At least I still have my old one.
Dark Cloud: It’s broken.
Silver Lining: My walk to my office is short and a little rain never hurt anyone. My hair was already a disaster and at least now I have an excuse.
Dark Cloud: I have so much work to do today and my inbox is completely overflowing.
Looking on the Bright Side Tips and Tricks
So before I really get into this, let me tell you that I understand how difficult looking on the bright side can be. I was the girl a few years ago that complained that the silver lining can’t be all that great if a dark cloud is in the middle. When something good was happening, I was the first to point out that we really shouldn’t get all that excited about it, because all good things come to an end. Yep, a real cheery person. When my friends called me on it, I called myself a “realist,” because it made me feel practical and justified. But in reality I was more of a “pessimist.”
The kind of attitude I had wasn’t healthy. I expected the worst of people and didn’t trust anyone. I stayed in often because I assumed every situation and social event was going to go badly or I was going to mess up somehow. In some ways I thought it was a smart attitude, because expecting the worst made all the good that happened a pleasant surprise, and when something bad happened I could say “I told you so.” However, the pessimism caused me an unhealthy amount of stress and I soon realized it was alienating to the people around me. I vowed to cut out the unhealthy variables in my life and be a more cheery person.
Here are some tips, with some help from http://www.operationbeautiful.com, that helped me change my outlook on life, and I hope you can take them to heart to
Quote for Thought
“We can always choose to perceive things differently. We can focus on what’s wrong in our life, or we can focus on what’s right.”
“All great changes are preceded by chaos.”
- Deepak Chopra
Hmmmm……chaos? When we think about chaos, the condition of our house or the schedule for the upcoming week comes to mind. I know that my office is in a state of chaos, for sure! However, when talking about change, chaos is that really crucial time that occurs before change can happen. It is unavoidable; it really is a part of the natural design of change. Margaret Wheatley writes,
“I believe nature offers abundant displays of order and clear lessons for how to achieve it. Despite the experience of fluctuations and changes that disrupt our plans, the world is inherently orderly. It continues to create systems of great scope, capacity, and diversity. And fluctuation and change are essential to the process by which order is created.” (Wheatley, Margaret, Discovering Order in a Chaotic World, p. 19)
In other words, like nature, we always strive for order despite the most unpredictable circumstances. But, there are times in our lives when we need to strive for a ‘new’ order. To get to that ‘new order’ we have to step into the chaos -- the messy, unpredictable space that makes us uncomfortable and causes us to run back to the comfort of the ‘old order.’ Today…..I encourage you to dip your toe into the chaos. Begin the process of moving towards your ‘new order;’ experience some discomfort; open yourself up to what will emerge! Embrace the chaos! (Meanwhile, I’ll go clean up my office!) kathy