I’m sitting in my office this morning looking outside at a beautiful Minnesota Winter Wonderland. And I’m sick of it. It’s -10 degrees outside with a wind chill of -25. It’s been that way for a couple of weeks now. But, short of migrating southward with a passing flock of human snowbirds, I have no choice but to accept and endure. Acceptance. That’s a word I’ve come to know well in the past few years. Sometimes we have to do the tough, tedious, boring and dull just to make it through to the good stuff. Sometimes it’s a tradeoff between what we want to do and what we have to do. Acceptance, and its best friend, patience, have gotten me through some tough things and some rough times.
Now I’m asking you for your patience. In order to get to all the cool, fun stuff that can help you grow and achieve, I need to take you on a brief tour of the fundamentals of human behavioral change (yawn). The next few blogs might feel more like school work (yuck!) than the high-energy, self-liberating “Woohoo, I feel good!” rhetoric spewed by motivational speakers. But, from my own personal experience, an understanding the fundamentals is critical to making the kind of changes YOU want for yourself. Will you accept a bit of dull and take this fundamental journey side-by-side with me? After all, it’s about you and what you would become…
People I work with through the 421 frequently come to me exasperated, saying, “Chad, help me. I’m tired of this BS and I’m ready for a change!” Being the smartass that I am, I respond with something like, “How about changing vocations and becoming a smarmy lounge singer in Vegas? Or, perhaps the change that would bring you happiness is switching the laundry mat you use. Boy, now that would really mix things up and make your life exciting!” Of course, their response is an even more exasperated, “Chad, that’s not what I mean.”
Of course it’s not. I know what they mean. They mean they’re simply tired of the way things are. Whether it’s their weight, their job, their daily rigmarole routine, a relationship, etc., something isn’t working for them. What’s going on within them or in their lives (their “HERE,” if you will) is causing them to feel something ranging from a vague restlessness to a dull ache to a sharp pain. And, in order to relieve that feeling, they need to be somewhere else (“THERE”).
Unfortunately, though, when people say that they need “a change,” their vision of “there” (where they want to be) is usually fuzzy or ill-defined, at best (“I don’t know, maybe I’ll do something with computers”). What’s worse, no matter how ill or well defined “there” is for them, people still struggle immensely with getting from “here to there.”
So, let’s talk about getting from here to there. To do so we must first understand the nature of change.
When we think about change we think about things becoming different than they are now. Change implies a sense of motion – moving from this to that; from here to there. But this sense of motion, in and of itself, is not enough to describe what we, as humans, experience when we or the things in our lives change. So, before we go too far into the “what” and “how” of change, I want to qualify how we define and use the term “change” at the 421.
First, depending on the context, change can either be good or bad or anywhere in between. Saying “I no longer work for XYZ Company” is a neutral statement of change. If that statement is qualified by “because I got fired,” it’s probably a negative change. If it’s because you got a job offer for twice the pay, well, it’s probably a positive change. For our purposes, we’re going to focus on positive change.
Second, change can be temporary (like standing up to stretch for a moment before sitting down again) or more permanent (like getting a tattoo). Because most changes we deal with at 421 are intended to be more permanent in nature and require at least some degree of effort to maintain (e.g., living a healthy lifestyle), we will refer to this type of change as sustained change.
Third, we want our change to occur for a reason or purpose. We don’t want to make a change just because we can’t stand the “here” anymore. We want to be working with intent towards a defined “there” (i.e., a goal). We want our change efforts to be purposeful.
Last of all, change in ourselves and our lives can be self-driven (finally taking piano lessons) or it can become necessary because of factors that we can’t control (losing a leg in a car accident). Obviously, we will be focusing on self-driven changes because we have a significantly better chance of controlling how, when, and why those changes happen.
Putting it all together, when we talk about change at the 421 we mean putting our efforts towards self-driven,purposeful, positive, sustainedchange in ourselves and our lives. Without these qualifiers, our efforts to change our “here” will be temporary and/or misdirected, at best. So, just how do we make these self-driven, purposeful, positive, sustained changes?
That’s what we will explore in more detail in our upcoming series of blogs. And when I way “we,” I hope you take that literally. If you have any questions or comments about anything written in these blogs, please send me a note via our Contact Us page and I’ll make every effort to respond directly or incorporate it into an upcoming blog. The truth is, we’re in this life together and together we can change the Human Experience.
Until next time, be good for yourself and do good for others!
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