We’ve talked a lot on this blog about how to deal with change. Change in the workplace, change in relationships, change with family and friends. But before you can create change in your own life, you have to decide to do so. For some, the “decision to make the decision” is the hardest part of the process. The endless deliberation, the pros-and-cons lists, the worrying about making the wrong choice. For others, the process is exactly the opposite – the insight that a situation needs to change hits you like a ton of bricks. It’s the proverbial light bulb going off above your head.
No matter how you come to a point of change, though, at some point you need to figure out how to make that change real for yourself – how to transition something from just a thought in your head to actual difference in your life. A few ways to do this include verbalizing the change, allocating resources (including money, time and effort), pursuing education and creating accountability. Here are just a few examples of how these strategies can manifest themselves in different ways.
Changing careers isn’t just about finding a new job. It can often feel like assuming a new identity. Especially when you are a workaholic like I am! It’s exciting but also a bit daunting. Don’t let the fear stop you, though. Remember that there are ways to ease into committing to this new identity. For example, let’s say you’re a bookkeeper and you have finally decided to pursue your passion for painting.
- Say “I am a painter” out loud and proud – even if it’s just alone in a room by yourself.
- Buy the materials you need to practice your craft, in this case perhaps an easel, canvases and paints.
- Sign up for an art class, even if you don’t tell anyone about it.
- Commit publicly to entering a contest or displaying your work in a gallery.
Everyone has things about their house or apartment they don’t like, but it can take a lot to get motivated enough to actually do something about it and move on. If you are ready to fill out that change-of-address for at the post office:
- Tell your roommates you are leaving.
- Give your landlord notice.
- Buy a subscription to an apartment finding service.
- Ask for help finding a new place on Facebook or Twitter (include a few basic details of what you are looking for).
- Tour potential new neighborhoods so that you can make an informed decision about where you want to end up. Or if the move involves another city, plan a road trip or buy an airline ticket to visit for a weekend so you can begin looking for a new place.
Though this is one of the more abstract changes in life, transforming a belief can (and probably should) have concrete manifestations. Ideally, if we have identified a new way to become a better version of ourselves, that switch will be reflected in the way we treat others and the world in general.
For example, let’s say that you want to move from taking the environment for granted to treating it as a precious and valued resource. At some point you need to take action to make this more than just a noble idea in your head. You could:
- Buy a dedicated recycling bin for your home or a timer for your shower so you can begin using less water.
- Start volunteering with an organization focused on greening up your city, school or business.
- Tell your family that this year, you’d prefer donations to a specific environmental charity instead of material birthday gifts.
- Identify one specific issue affecting climate change that you’d like to better understand, and allot a specific amount of time each week towards researching it.
As you can see, there are many ways to make change real for yourself in your life. It can be scary, but ultimately, if it’s the right change, you’ll find a way to bravely move forward. Of course, it may take awhile for you to figure out exactly what that next move should be…