Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Change one thing; repeat

mirrored leaves

“…Figure out one thing that would make your life better, …and make it happen. And once that’s done, then go ahead figure out the next thing, and do that, too.” – Joanie, 80 (in Breaking Point, Beck, 1997)

Those who have been reading a while are aware that my life is in transition. Actually I am juggling several transitions that are overlapping. There have been losses to adjust and compensate for; but these transitions are also bringing about the possibilities of making some gains in areas of my life that I did not have control over previously.

It is one thing to realize that something isn’t working in your life and it needs changing to work better. But how often do we follow up on those insights and make the changes that would make a real difference in our lives.

What is it about change that it becomes a blockade to the things we say we want in our lives. We can want something different so badly but we seem to have such difficulty bringing it about?

Change is difficult but it is not impossible because all around us change happens every day; at least for other people it seems. (And yes, changes we don’t want are often thrust upon us but this is about deliberate changes and choices.)

So, if others can bring about change why not us? Do we lack insight or skill, strength or courage? Do we think we need a good reason or permission or to be deserving? Maybe we think we’re broken and deserve things the way they are?

Change is complex because it’s not just a destination; it’s the means to other ends and other changes. Really, change is similar to an obstacle course. If we accept the challenge of the course it can teach us how to do it better.

At boot camp part of the training regimen for new recruits includes an actual obstacle course. The point is not to memorize the course but to clear the obstacles clean and fast. Clean is this case means without getting a “hit” which in a real combat situation would mean getting wounded, killed or captured in which case the soldier would not make it to front lines to engage in the main battle.

The obstacle course at boot camp is part of the process to change raw recruits from civilians into soldiers. The early courses aren’t easy for the new recruits but as they gain confidence and experience they are able to clear increasingly more difficult obstacles. While no points are awarded for style or artistic impression there is a skill to training the body to make adjustments to each obstacle efficiently.

Likewise when we choose to change something in our lives we also start changing who we are or how we see the world. As we gain experience and confidence in our new situation we can handle more challenging changes. So if we look at bringing about change in our lives how can we apply the soldier and the obstacle course to our process?

These three came to my mind:

1. Don’t quit, don’t retreat - get through the first one any way you can. If someone is ahead of you learn from their circuit so you don’t repeat their mistakes.

2. Debrief yourself - how did it go, what would you do differently, what mistakes did you make? Don’t overdo this, you want to eliminate inefficient moves but retain the “can do” spirit.

3. Do it over soon - don’t lose the experience or information you paid dearly to gain. Make your next change sooner rather than later to reinforce the learning.

If you thought of something else put it down in the comments so we can all learn.


Related Post:

The Miracle of Courage: getting started

1 comment:

chelle said...

I really like that quote.
Change is so hard. I find if I make myself accountable it is easier for me to change.
When I started running last year, it was the biggest change i had made just for me in a long time. It felt so good to achieve it.

Success is the most amazing thing about change, and also the hardest to realize.