words to live by: sometimes i feel like alice
a year of amazing: how to make this one the best yet

stop, drop, & roll: how to prepare for change

  

happiness and change
 ()
 

“It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t.
It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.”
James Gordon



Change is a funny thing. Sometimes we want it so badly and we'd do anything for it. Sometimes we're so scared of it that we'd give anything to stop it from happening. Change has played a big part in my life over the past year. I cannot think of a year when I've changed more than 2009. While I'm still working at the same place and living in the same area, almost everything in my life has changed dramatically over the past 12 months. My relationships with others, my relationship with myself, my understanding of the world, my actions and reactions, my thoughts and way of thinking -- all of these things have undergone major transformations this year. I often look around at where I am now and ask myself, "Why? Why now? What was so different about this year that made it so special?" Much as I scratch my head and ponder these questions, the only real answer that seems to stick with me is: I was ready

It took a long time -- a lot of years of doing things to make myself stronger and, in some ways, harder -- to get to the point where I was ready for change. I don't think I even knew I was ready. I just looked around one day and it hit me like a bat to the head: I had to change things. I had to change things. I had that cliched experience of looking around and realizing that this was my life and I didn't like it one bit. I'd thought this many times before. I'd always wanted a different life. I'd always thought that "someday" things would be different. It wasn't until about a year ago that I realized that I had to make things different. I had to change them. It seems simple enough, realizing I had control over my life, but it wasn't simple to get to that point in my life. As the Indigo Girls sing in "Least Complicated" (click to listen): "The hardest to learn was the least complicated." It was such a simple notion -- take control of your own life -- but it was such a complex one for me to grasp. 

I don't think I'm alone in this. I think it takes a lot of people -- a lot -- to realize that they can control their own lives. I think many people never realize it at all and end up floating along on whatever path they happen to find themselves drifting down. I was that person. I was that drifter, just floating and thinking I'd get there someday. I had hope that things would work out, but I didn't want to work for it. I just thought it would happen. Well, I can tell you from personal experience...things don't "just happen." Yes, sometimes there are those moments of excitement when things seem like they're falling in place. Yes, there are times when things seem like fate or coincidence. But the best things -- the really great things -- happen when you're working towards them, when you're making the changes and when you're putting in the effort to make yourself better. 

But how did I do it? And how can you? I don't know if I have any true and definite answers to those questions. I wish I could post a step-by-step plan for how I changed, but I know that these things are really personalized and, if you want to change, the way to do it really depends on how you are as a person and what exactly it is that you want to change. Even though there isn't a formula for change, I can offer some suggestions and some advice on how I got from where I was to where I am now... 



Stop, Drop, and Roll: How To Ready Yourself For Change 
 

  1. Stop being afraid. It's so easy to be scared. Believe me, I know how much courage it takes to willingly choose to change. It really can be terrifying, the thought of changing your life, of changing yourself. I honestly think it was that fear that held me back for so long. I knew I needed change. I could sense something that needed to be different in my life, but I was so afraid. If you really want to change, you have to stop being afraid. You have to take whatever fear you're experiencing and just let it go. As you can probably guess, this is not easy -- but it is the only way to really prepare yourself to change. 

  2. Drop your old ways. Sounds so obvious, right? If you don't like how your life is, just stop doing what you're doing, right? If you've ever tried to stop your habits or break your routines, you know just how difficult this can be. In theory it sounds so great, but it can be really, really hard to change things and to make choices that are different from those you'd made in the past. It was nearly impossible for me to alter some of my habits when I decided that I needed to change and it certainly didn't happen over night. It took a long time -- probably years if you count all of those failed attempts from the past -- to get where I am right now, but I know with absolute certainty that I would not be here if I hadn't changed my old ways. 

  3. Roll with the punches. As I mentioned in #1, change can be really scary. Most people don't like it all that much, especially when it's hard. For this reason, you have to to learn to let go of your preconceived notions of what "should" be and live in the moment. Rolling with the punches isn't always easy (and was especially difficult for a Type A girl like myself), but it's the only way to really accept change in your life. If you're having trouble with this, I'd suggest reading The Power of Now or Loving What It Is. Both of those books really helped me out when I was trying to adjust to living in the moment and accepting my new life for what it was, changes and all. That whole go-with-the-flow thing didn't come easily to me (still doesn't sometimes!), but it's definitely an essential attitude to have when it comes to changing. 



As we all know, change can be so brutal sometimes. It's hard to face it when it's forced upon us, but it can be even more difficult when we're trying to implement it ourselves. At that point, change becomes a choice and, for that reason, it's something we can so easily avoid or give up on. Changing yourself is really hard work and these three steps are only the beginning. They are only small bits of advice to help you ready yourself for change. Around this time of year, people are thinking a lot about change, about making resolutions and changes. Recognize that change is hard, but you really do have the ability to change anything in your life. What it really comes down to, or at least what it came down to for me about a year ago, was being ready. If you're not ready for it, you won't change. But if you are ready...well, you have the amazing ability to turn your whole life upside down... 



How do you ready yourself for change? 
What advice do you have for those who want to make changes? 

Comments

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Hey Dani!

You're right that the #1 obstacle in people's transformations is themselves; they often aren't ready for the transformation, and thus don't bother changing their habits.

Often, it takes a near-death experience or something of a similar magnitude in order to get people to be ready and open to change. However, if we just stop drop and roll, like you said - and make a firm decision to change our ways - then change is possible. I'd say that if you're reading this article, you're probably open to change in the first place.

So true! I think a LOT of people experienced big changes this year. Many were not 'chosen' but occurred anyway!
Choosing change requires a strong desire, and a commitment to being fearless. Fear is the single thing that usually stops us 'from the get-go'.
The old adage "it's all in your head" is really true. It all starts there. Our beliefs about what we can and can't do, should and shouldn't do, etc. determine everything from whether we believe we need to change in the first place, to whether we can.
I ditched my career last year in order to live my passion. To teach the world that they can be 'the CEO of their own life!'
(you should've seen how many people jumped up and down and said 'you can't do that!':)

thanks for sharing! great post!

Hi Dani,
It's so true. That old saying from AA is "when you're sick and tired of being sick and tired" you'll change. I was sick and tired at age 27 and that's when I first went to therapy with my hubby. Our children were 9, 6 and twins were 4. Our life was so insane. I was totally out of control;) Then I changed. Our 38th wedding anniversary is January 14th.
All because we were ready to let go of old behavior and begin new.

Hmmm, I wonder what change I'm ready for now?!?

I always love your blog, but this is my favorite post you've written in a really long time!

I especially agree with #3 - Roll with the punches. That's the most important thing I've learned this year and it has been so rewarding to finally stop grasping at the way I think things should be and just work with life rather than against it.

I'm glad to hear you had a good 2009 and here's to a happy 2010!

Brett - People definitely tend to stand in the way of their own success, but I understand how hard it can be to make changes. You're right about how it is often an extreme experience that causes people to want to change, but, at the same time, it's likely that if you're reading blogs like this one, you're at least open to the idea of change.

Heather - You're right about a lot of people experiencing big changes in 2009. It's been kind of a crazy year! So right about what you've said about "it's all in your head" -- it really is! Good for you for helping others to realize that they really can be in control of their own lives!

Tess - Great point about that quote from AA. That's what happened to me. I got to a point where I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired and that's when I decided to make some changes. It sounds like things have really worked out well for you and that makes me really happy!

Crash - Thank you! :) You put a big smile on my face with your comment. #3 can be really hard to do sometimes (it certainly is for me!), but it can make a really big difference in our lives if we're able to let go and just accept things as they are. Happy 2010 to you as well! :)

i love that picture! LOVE it.
and 2009 was a huge change-year for me too! seriously, can't believe it, everyhting is so different now - I am so different now! and 2010 looks set to be similar. but change is good, if you aren't growing and changing yu aren't really living, right?
it's just important to keep breathing i guess... ;) xx

Not that I don't LOVE your article but I think you probably could have just posted that picture.

It. Is. Awesome.

And so perfect, wow! Perfectly encapsulated the idea of change.

Rachel - Isn't that picture great! When I saw it I just KNEW I had to use it. I feel the same way you do about 2009. EVERYTHING is so different now than it was before. It's amazing and inspiring! Change is great and it really is such an important aspect of living. Hope your 2010 is filled with lots of wonderful, positive change!

Hayden - Haha, I know, right? I could have just posted the picture and been done with it. It really does say it all! I feel like I need to get a huge blow up of it and put it in my room... and office... and car... and just wave it around to random strangers... Haha. Glad you liked the article and the pic!

I always find such encouragement in your posts and that extra bit of hope that I tend to need at the end of the day.

In September, I became sick and tired of being "here" and that's when I knew that I was ready to change. It's desire, willingness, a bit of ambition and a dash of creativeness...that's how you change. You have to have a desire to change...which a lot of people do...but it's the follow up that most lack. That's when the willingness kicks in and it overpowers the fear. Then it concludes with a bit of ambition and creativeness. Ambition is that drive that keeps you going when it gets hard...creativeness helps you to have fun while doing it and color outside of the lines when necessary. Then you Repeat.

And while you're at it, watch The Biggest Loser...now there are some amazing changes!

Dropping my old ways has always held me back. 2010 seems like another great year to be better at it. :)

Wow...I think you are following my life!! LOL...ah change. It's hard, but worth it.

When I made my decision to divorce my husband, I was forced to admit, I was more afraid that things would NEVER change, than I was of starting life on my own. That's huge...Like you, I had thought about how unhappy I was...I made little changes, but nothing ever seemed to make any big impact. Now, I've made the biggest one of all...and I'm scared. Scared, but energized and excited too.

My process has come over several years...but 2009 will be the year I realized that I CAN do things for myself!!

I love this post...Thank you.

I agree, great picture and great post. Loved the reminder to stop being afraid:)

Change is so hard, but you framed it so well! My friend and I call "stop, drop and roll" SDRs ... we use the term when we know it's time to take a step back from things that are going awry. It's our secret signal to take a breath and get some perspective. Thanks Dani!

Hi Dani,

I love how you put it "Stop, Drop and Roll" simple and easy to remember.
Sometime I say,"Changes are opportunities undercover"

Thanks for sharing.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Actiojn

Jonique - Thank you for your comment! I'm glad you find my posts encouraging. I really agree with what you wrote about ambition. It really is what we need when want to turn our lives around. I haven't seen The Biggest Loser, but from the commercials it really does look inspiring!

All Women Stalker - Yay for 2010! A new decade, a new you!

Dawn - Hahaha. Change is definitely hard but, as it happened with you, sometimes the fear of things not changing is the catalyst to drive us to change. That's how it was with me. I got to a point that I was so scared of my own life that I had to change. I'm so glad 2009 was a great year for you too!

Lana - I'm so glad you liked it. The post was a really important one for me to write and it was great to find such a fitting picture.

Laura - So funny that you and your friend have the SDRs! It just sort of came to me as I was writing this post and I really wasn't sure where it came from. Taking a step back is really an essential part of change so the way you and your friend use SDR works with this post too!

Giovanna - Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I love the quote you mentioned because it really is so true. Changes ARE opportunities!

ooh i gotta check out Loving What It Is ! I definitely agree with the fact that the best changes are the ones we work towards. great post, Dani !

Rocky - Oh, yes, you should read it. So many people mentioned it to me on this blog and I kept putting it off, but it was a really big life-changer when I finally got my hands on a copy. Check it out!

It took me a long time to realize that I am in control of my life and my emotions. I spent most of my teen years in misery (who doesn't? :D), but it was a good experience because it just propelled me to learn more about the other side of things. Awesome post!

Great Blog :)

Great post, Dani --- I had to reflect on my attitude toward change, and I'm surprised to realize that all my life I've been chasing change, loving it and wanting it, kind of like a new adventure! I've always been a "go-and-do-the-new" kind of person.

Now I'm 'way more mellow, have finally "settled" for a spell and am able to appreciate what is. I think my chasing change is no longer relentless or restless, and more directed at exploring the "inside" self instead of the "outside" world, so I'm still having adventures and still enjoying new horizons.

I ditto Rachel's "change is good, if you aren't growing and changing you aren't really living" --

Henri - Me too. I was always waiting for someone or something else to take control, but once I finally figured out that it was up to me, everything changed for me. Glad you liked the post!

AparnA - Thanks so much! I really appreciate the comment! )

Jeanne - Thank you! That's awesome that you love and accept change in your life. There is a way to explore change that is restless and there is a way that is more content and settled. It's always great to have change but it really sounds like you're experiencing change in a positive way!

LOVE that picture!

While I consider myself someone who welcomes change, I've realised that I can be a bit inflexible when change brings about things I don't like or wasn't expecting. While I think that's human, I am trying harder these days to welcome change into my life, whether I've wanted it or not, because it's always an opportunity to grow.

But if I want to bring about change myself, nothing can stop me! I too have learned the value of working towards something and being motivated to change your life for the better.

Great post, love your work as always :) Happy New Year!! xx

Green Ink - Isn't that the perfect pic for this post? I love it! Like you, sometimes I can be inflexible when change isn't something I was expecting, but when it comes to changing myself, I realize that I'm a lot more resourceful than I ever would have thought. Happy New Year to you too! :)

I think it was more than you were ready. I think you've done a lot of reflection and inspection and it set you up for success.

J.D. - I agree. I was definitely ready and, as you said, all of that reflection put me in that right spot that made me ready for change.

I really enjoyed to read this post and also the comments. Yes, there are times in life you have to make a major change inside and outside (your home, your thinking and then so much else changes).
My life obviously changed when I moved from the Alpine Region of Southern Austria to Vienna to study at the Vienna School of Economics. It changed when I began to work, it changed profoundly when I moved to California and then again when I moved back to Austria.
But now I am at a point in life that I want to make a very special change and differently than you, I researched and thought about a system that would not only lead me to this specific life change I want to make but also others. When you make a change in one aspect of your life, everything else changes and you can determine how everything should change.

Christa - Thank you so much for commenting! I really enjoyed reading your experiences and insights. It sounds like you've had a lot of change to deal with and you've also chosen a some change carefully. Change can be very difficult, but with the right attitude and the right amount of thoughtfulness, one can certainly make the most of any change that comes his or her way.

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