The Good Work Book Blog
The Courage To Change Your Life
Changing one’s life in order to improve it is like planning for a necessary holiday to an unknown foreign country: time consuming and uncertain. You feel exhausted and Spain sounds a great place to go for refreshment, fun and drinking sangria. But then the questions pop up. When is the best time to go? Can you afford it? Will you enjoy Spain enough to justify the effort of getting there? Wouldn’t it be better just to hang around at home and eat mac and cheese instead of being subjected to some strange cuisine that might just turn out to be bull’s testicles in sauce? In short, is a change of scenery really worth it?
It’s no wonder that many people resist making any change at all even if their current situation is quite dire because of the uncertainties that go with it. They fear jumping from an increasingly hot frying pan into a hellish fire. However, failing to take charge of your life when it is obvious that change is needed, it is like refusing to take a health giving holiday for fear of imagined disasters: at best you will end up with a narrow and restricted existence, at worst life will thrust change upon you that you are totally unprepared for.
Faced with the unknown consequences of any choice, whether it is a holiday, a change of job or lifestyle, there are two possible approaches: either plan the next move within an inch of its life, or choose to feel the fear and do it anyway ignoring that the possibility that the fear might hold a useful cautionary note.
The latter method is very tempting when you are desperate, or young and foolish. It has minimalist simplicity: I want out of the place I am in and this is the way I am going to do it. Don’t think any further. Knock yourself out.
Older and/or wiser people prefer to canvass the implications of any possibility to see what problems might arise before initiating any change at all. They fall into the trap of trying to ensure that every foreseeable eventuality is covered. Unfortunately, plans for change only go so far.
On a recent trip to Vietnam, I took the mature approach. I checked out most of the factors that might cause me discomfort but I overlooked just one thing: the humidity levels at the time we chose to go. Thirty-three degrees Celsius sounds delightful but, trust me, it is not necessarily so if humidity hovers around the 90% mark! I sweated so much my hair stuck to my skull as if I had just emerged from a shower without a towel; kindly strangers in the street offered me bottles of mineral water, while vendors of fans swarmed around like Australian bush flies. So I proved the validity of Murphy’s Law for the zillionth time. Life is a wild ride and if anything can go wrong, it will.
Nevertheless, change in life is inevitable. Unlike holidays you can’t choose not to go forward; therefore it is best to learn how to make change work for you. The trick to working with it is to take basic precautionary steps to ensure you will end up where you want to go in relative safety: if you want to go whitewater rafting down the Amazon, you need appropriate gear and preparation. But once the choice is made, take courage to move forward upon your decision. It is true that the adventure will throw up the unexpected. However, human beings are blessed with a wonderful ability to create safety nets through flexible thinking to solve immediate problems. Changes in life, even those that bring some discomfort, always enrich and educate so long as you take responsibility for making them as positive as possible as you go along. I survived Vietnam humidity by cycling between dehydration tablets, coconut water, air-conditioned buildings, the hotel swimming pool, and cold beer. I even worked it out after three days that the midday sun is not the best time to go sightseeing. (I admit to being a bit slow on the uptake there).
Like travel to foreign lands, the value that changing an unsatisfactory situation can bring is never obtained by simply dreaming about it or wishing for someone to take you there. The courage to change requires both responsible action and trust but it brings with it vitality and invaluable experiences with it.
If you are a person currently facing a need to change and anxious about the consequences of doing so, the brain reprogramming visualization, Releasing Fear of Change, page 87, The Good Work Book, helps to relieve known and unconscious anxieties.