Before we dive into how to make a change, and how to deal with change … we should start at the beginning, and talk about why it’s important at all. Why should you put all this effort into change?
In my life, it’s become very obvious what change has meant to me. I was an overweight, sedentary smoker who was broke and deeply in debt, stuck in procrastination, surrounded by clutter and disorganization, with no time for important things like my family and health and writing. I wanted to make changes, because I was unhappy with myself, but I couldn’t figure out how to change. I was stuck.
When I learned how to change habits, I became unstuck. I learned about myself, and mindfulness, and enjoying the process rather than focusing on the outcome or goal. I learned that I can change things that made me unhappy, instead of being stuck in a rut. I learned to become happy with myself, not because I was now fitter or more productive, but because I trusted myself. I built that trust, one step at a time.
My life transformed, one small step after the other. I became a different person.
That said, life wasn’t without frustrations. Every time I thought I knew how to change habits, I’d come across a new obstacle. I found frustrations in other areas, like relationships and working with other people and dealing with criticism. I wasn’t always good at dealing with frustrations.
By creating the habit of mindfulness, I learned to see what was going on, to deal with the frustrations, and to be able to make more conscious choices.
I became calmer, more at peace, less frustrated with others and myself. My relationships improved as I became a better husband, friend, colleague, father. I’m not perfect by any means — there’s no such thing as perfect — but I’m better at dealing with others and myself. I’m happier with others and myself.
Those are amazing results, though I could not have predicted nor controlled them. They emerged from learning about changes.
And that’s the biggest reason to make changes and to get better at dealing with changes: you learn an amazing amount about how you work, about others, about life. This has been an unimaginable learning experience for me, and it hasn’t ended and (I hope) never will.
I wish these same learning experiences for you and hope to guide you along the way.
Mission: Check your commitment
One very common problem people face is that they say, “Oh, I should start exercising,” but then don’t actually take the action needed to get started. In their minds, they haven’t overcome the initial resistance to starting. You’re going to work on overcoming that in the next few chapters, but for today, just ask yourself: how committed am I to making a new change, and to actually starting it in the next week?