Change is coming. Will you be ready?
"It's been a long time, a long time coming But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will"
Sam was right. Change is inevitable. His change was born out of desire for a better life. He didn't wait for it, he sought out such change and made it happen.
Sometimes we don't want to change. We are in our comfort zones, comfortable with our world as it is. However, it is in those moments of comfort that we often stagnate. Seeking out challenges, seeking out discomfort from routines and regularity, are often when growth occurs.
Examples often help such concepts come to life. Take Diana Nyad, marathon swimmer. From 1974-1979 Nyad broke several records for marathon swims by swimming around Manhattan island and set a then-record by swimming 102 miles from the Bahamas to Florida. 102 miles! At age 30. At that point she had accomplished more in her sport than most would accomplish in a lifetime.
But she wasn't comfortable. Something was unsettled inside of her and a new challenge emerged: swim from Cuba to Florida. Most observers of the sport believed it couldn't be done, let alone by someone at Diana's age. After five attempts, at age 63, Nyad set a new world record by swimming 110 miles - for 53 consecutive hours, with no shark cage - from Havana, Cuba to Florida.
This is obviously an extreme example. Nyad had a challenge lurking inside of her for 30 years that shook her out of a comfort zone and into new action. Such an example doesn't necessarily relate to your life, but can serve as inspiration done two ways:
Ask yourself what your comfort zone looks like? Are you currently in one? Do you need to shake free of it in order to grow?
Knowing you are more capable as a human being than you give yourself credit for.
Diana Nyad is proof of the incredible feats that humans are capable of, and you, reading this, are human. Do the math.
Now, back up the track, hit the brakes and ask yourself: am I ready for change? Perhaps you don't even know what you would change or why you need to change it. Taking stock of your life is important, and this "map work" (shout to Michael Gervais) is something we don't take time to do very often. Self-discovery requires pausing, observing your life, and avidly reflecting on how your circumstances are impacting your reality, and whether or not you can do something to change those circumstances.
In Sport Psychology we talk about the Transtheoretical Model of Change (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1994) and I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago in writing about thoughts impacting our behaviors. In it we consider where we are in a certain area of our lives and where we want to go in order to change it:
Pre-contemplation - Contemplation - Preparation - Action - Maintenance
There are some areas of our lives we either don't want to change, don't think we need to change, or we aren't aware these circumstances are hurting us. This is pre-contemplation. Example: I'm not even thinking about changing how I eat because I like it and don't think it is causing me any issues.
I'm aware of something I want to change and I'm giving that change some thought.
I'm getting ready to make a change. I'm putting together a plan, setting goals, visualizing my success, and using positive language to set myself up for success.
I make a change! I'm eating more salads, staying away from meat, consuming less refined sugars, etc. Perhaps your actions are coupled with a set of mental skills to keep you plugging away at this change: visible goals, cue phrases written out and kept around where you can see them, an accountability partner keeping you honest, sharing your goals with someone, using meditation daily to hone your present moment focus. To name a few.
Maintaining our changes are often the most difficult. Does this remind you of a New Year's resolution? It should. Many of us use that fabricated date as a chance to make a change and by mid-February (if they are lucky), we are back to our old habits. Maintaining change is difficult! Mental skill coaches and other support professionals can help. And you can help yourself!
How can this help you on your journey?
Prochaska, J.O., Norcross, J.C. & DiClemente, C.C. (1994). Changing for good. New York: Morrow.