In the past, I have ‘tried change’. Or at least I have made a conscious decision at some point to commit to trying change. I wrote about them here and here. This was an attempt to do what’s important and what I can do to change my life. My main reason for “trying change” was that I was worth investing in. I agreed that just like my African elders would say “if you do it well the first time, you won’t have to come back to do it”. I agree. If I could find a better way to do things- including the day to day- for my own betterment, then I must do it. There’s no chance to cut corners or to procrastinate.
I did this, or at least I tried to try change. I was on a good trajectory for a few months and then things changed. I felt the stuntedness in my progress. But time and time again, I never stopped. I’ve tried to come back home to myself and inspire change from within. I’ve learned a lot in the journey so far and although I am not where I projected myself to be, I am thankful for the grace to try again and to never quit trying. I’ve also learned a lot in this process of trying change. The lessons on this journey to self-discovery will accumulate for a future blog entry.
Meanwhile, I have come to learn that there is the idea of wanting to change and there is the state of actually committing to change. Think of these as two phases to be in. The former focuses on intention and desire. The latter focuses on the actions. Circumstances and perhaps the choices we make play a big role in how long we stay in either of these phases.
In the former, we desire to change because we have seen or gauged some of the perceived benefits of that change. We know what our “best life” looks like and we desire it. We dream of it. We set goals and wish to actually stick to them. But sometimes it ends just there; as mere desires and intentions and nothing more. Think of it as a phase in life. You’re in this phase hoping to actually make something out of your life. You want the changes so badly but you somehow can’t quite take the plunge into actually making those changes. A lot of things contribute to why we are in this phase – often for so long-, or why we often dead the goals in this stage.
For one, we wait for the perfect opportunity. If you are an Enneagram type Four like I am, you wait for things to feel right before ever getting started. If things never feel right, we never start. Days, weeks, months and even years pass by as you wait for that feeling. If that feeling never comes, you quit. It’s a cycle I’ve found myself in time and time again.
Meanwhile, in the later stage of this quest for change, we actually get our feet wet and our hands dirty. We do the work that is necessary to bring about that change that we so desire. This stage doesn’t necessarily feel good. The work doesn’t feel good, but it is necessary. Putting in the work to bring about change is out insurance that we are not somehow stuck in the same space months from now with nothing but our hopes and wishes for change.
I reached that junction in life where I had to come to terms with the fact that for most of my life, I have spent it in the first stage. And then I decided to take that plunge; to make the daily decision to put in the work to better myself. This doesn’t mean that my life is perfect now. It’s simply that every single day, I wake up with a commitment to myself to put in the work. Some days I don’t put in as much work as I do other days, but what matters is that I am actually putting in some work.
Here’s how I did it
- Prioritized myself as I had never done in the past and releasing myself from feeling guilty that this is somehow selfish.
- This meant taking time to care for me mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I could not simply be my best self and pour into others if these tanks were perpetually empty.
- It meant dealing with things from my past to prevent myself from letting these unprocessed emotions and experiences affect significant areas of my life
- Did the analysis comparing my current self to my future self (An activity that I learned from Lavendaire)
- Made a detailed list of traits that I want to embody by imagining what my ideal future self looked like
- I stopped bombarding myself with self-help content from the internet. While some of these contents can be helpful, many of them further create a void in our lives, leaving us to desire much to be done but paralyzing us from actually taking the steps to do the work.
I hope you find reasons to challenge yourself to take the plunge. Take the first step to transition from simply wanting change and desiring change to actually doing the work and committing to actions.
We are in this together.