By: Staci Stallings
In addition, or maybe in connection with, studying God and His ways, I have always been fascinated by the concept of change. Specifically, how do we get out of ruts our lives get stuck in. You know those ruts–maybe its boredom or hopelessness, maybe it’s debt or marriage issues. Whatever it is, what I’ve learned is “it” always starts with “you.”
If the problem doesn’t start with you, then the solution certainly does.
Change demands that we change–something about ourselves or about the way we are looking at the situation.
Sometimes we’re forced into change. Someone dies, we graduate, we get fired, we get married.
Sometimes we choose to change. We decide to start a family or a business.
Whatever it is, change brings about certain wonders and lessons, and also certain challenges. For example, a student in school is constantly asked to change by learning new things. Over the course of a year, one student might learn a million bits of information–how to do certain things like write the letter A or a six-page essay. They might learn that the Revolutionary War started in 1775 or that the atomic element Sodium has a symbol NA.
All of these change the way that student sees the world. And the changes don’t stop in academics. Maybe that student learns to play an instrument or play it better. Maybe he learns to shoot a jumpshot correctly or to clear a hurdle. Maybe she learns a little patience with a friend or how to format a spreadsheet. All of this learning is essentially change.
In fact, most of life is essentially change.
But here’s the thing… most of us don’t like change much. We know how things are, and we want them to stay like that because status quo means safety and comfort. Change is a challenge–even if in that challenge we see opportunity, it’s the risk that scares us.
What I’m learning about change is that if you look at it incrementally–in small bits and pieces, the fear often is at least manageable if not mitigated.
For example, let’s say that you want to change how you eat. Now you could very well go cold turkey with everything, stop eating junk food, start eating only vegetables, but my guess is that wouldn’t last very long. Instead, think of changing your diet as a process not a one-time decision. So today, you don’t drink 5 sodas, you drink three. That’s change. Tomorrow you realize you did all right with three, maybe you could do just two. Next week, you decide to chop that down to one.
Or maybe instead of giving up a bad habit, you want to build a good one. Let’s say instead of committing yourself to reading the Bible for 15 minutes every morning, you start by getting it off the shelf and dusting it off. 🙂 Lay it on your desk, so you will see it in the morning and commit to opening it and reading one verse. The next morning maybe it’s two verses, the next five.
And if you fall off the transformation truck, don’t worry about it. None of us are perfect!
Get up. Dust yourself off. Take a breath and congratulate yourself on the changes you have made.
Now take another step in the direction you want to go.
There are three keys to making any positive change:
1) Going in the right direction.
2) Taking the small steps to get there.
3) Being flexible and forgiving when necessary.
I once heard a speaker say that transformation is change over time.
So when you’ve decided to change, to transform some facet of your life, realize that it’s going to take time. That’s okay. Keep going in the right direction, taking the small steps, and being flexible with yourself for all the times you don’t do it perfectly. And you will be amazed at where you will end up!