It’s hard to believe that 4 years ago, my husband and I were relishing in our moment of being done with diapers and baby bottles. Our two children were ages 6 and 7, and traveling with them was relatively easy as they were a little more independent. Then, our world changed when our tiny preemie was born at 26 weeks. Balancing her needs and our other two children’s well-being became the priority. In 2015, we were in survival mode, and it meant that letting the mail, magazines, and dust accumulate in the house was not the end of the world. As I look back at those times, we were living one day at a time.
Fast forward to 2019. Our journey has taught us the importance of gratitude and believing in the impossible. Our lives are drastically different now. All three of my children are healthy, and with the exception of the usual parenting frustrations, life is simple and good! Our minds are much calmer and we’ve learned to find personal growth, especially in the toughest of times. Essentially, we’ve learned how to thrive, and yet, our home environment still reflected our survival mode of living. It only seemed fitting that our home environment coincided with our current state of mind.
So, since my last post, my husband and I have continued to deep clean and purge items that we have not used in ages. We’ve rearranged furniture and revived things to make better use of them. We’ve been tackling areas of our home in bite size chunks to make our intention very manageable. It feels like a fresh start, and we’re enjoying the things we’ve always had, but more so now in its repurposed state. Our transformative energy has also extended to other aspects of our lives too—we’re taking better care of our bodies by eating cleaner and increasing our physical activities.
It’s time to think about a change when:
- Your heart has a longing for something new and specific
- You know that you need to start or stop a behavior for your own good
- Your life shifts through divorce, empty nest, lay-off, health issue, etc.
- You find a renewed determination towards a purpose
Give yourself a fresh start by letting go of what isn’t working and saying hello to every option in the universe that fits your current needs. No matter the reason that sparks your renewal, the key is to embrace that urge and get started towards the changes you want.
It’s important to recognize that some people struggle with change. They fight it, they avoid it, and sometimes they feel guilty about it. Here are five obstacles to change:
- Fear. It has a real purpose in life and, in itself, is not a bad thing. It is an important part in keeping you safe as it serves as a basic survival mechanism that signals your body to respond to a danger with a flight response. The problem is when there is no immediate threat, followed by an end to the threat and relaxation. You can become frozen from fear, and unable to move forward with change.
- Low Self-Esteem. When you devalue yourself, you set limits that do not need to exist. When you tear yourself down, you damage your ability to make change. Most of this baggage causes you to react to the world in an unproductive way that can sabotage your efforts to achieve positive life change.
- Perfectionism. The inability to be happy with something until it is perfect, without any flaws whatsoever can prevent one from wanting to make changes in their lives.
- Need for control. The crux of the problem is the demand for certainty in a world that is always tentative and uncertain. It is precisely this unrealistic demand that creates the tension that makes change less likely.
- Environment. Your environment may, at a minimum, not support change and, at worst, discourage change.
In all five cases, when you allow these obstacles to control your life, they have the effect of sabotaging your efforts at changing your life in a positive way. Even worse, you feel stuck, frustrated, and helpless to change your lot in life.
Assuming the glass is half-full and can only hold more – here are my 5 truths about change:
- Change is inevitable- Whether you cling to what you have or long for something more, change is inevitable. Nothing can or will stay the same. You have power when it comes to change. Your actions or reactions to change will determine how amazing the change is. Get comfortable with the notion of change as part of the evolution of life and stop resisting.
- Change helps your brain stay healthy- Our brains need new and varied problems to work on or they get flaccid. A brain that isn’t working out problems, solving mysteries, or figuring things out gets weak. Change is one of the greatest ways to keep our brains healthy.
- Change creates maturity- Sometimes change comes with a price tag. Sometimes change comes with a penalty. Sometimes change requires risk and sometimes change is forced on us. No matter how change comes, it causes us to grow. From learning we are tougher than we realized to having to do some really hard things – change creates maturity.
- Change teaches you to overcome fear and anxiety- Whether stepping out towards change in fear or being pushed into the unknown without your consent, change can be scary. The devil we know is easier to manage than the one we don’t. Once the fears are faced, they are often scarier in theory than reality. Change teaches you to overcome fear and anxiety as you learn new coping skills or how to talk yourself through the fear.
- Change gives you choices- The cool thing about one change is that it can bring about another. If you choose something and don’t like it, that isn’t the end of the line. Change things again! Once the spirit of change is validated and embraced, change can become part of the normal routine. From changing your coffee order to the brand of cereal your family eats this week, change can be fun. From picking a new wall color to a new genre of book to read, change can be exciting. From changing where you volunteer your time or which organization you donate to, change can matter to more people.
I believe life wants to be lived to its fullest potential. At some point, life opens up opportunities to begin again; to reimagine itself and regenerate. It will nudge you again and again until you are reminded of who you’ve always wanted to be and what you’ve always wanted to do. I heard my message loud and clear over the holidays! What about you?
Call to Action: How will your life be different this year? What small change can you make today, that could have a lasting, positive impact?