Change comes in two flavours.
As far as change goes, 2019 has been a big year. My father died in March. This put cobbling together a new care plan for my mother, who has dementia, squarely in the hands of my two sisters and me. Starting in March and ending in September we navigated the Canadian healthcare system to have mom placed in a nursing home where she could get the care she needs. It’s taken a tole on each of us. We’ve changed in ways we didn’t expect. Not because we chose to but because we had no choice. That’s an example of the involuntary path to change. It’s brutal but can be highly effective.
Then there’s the voluntary kind.
Both types of change will test us in untold but different ways. One key difference is the opt-out option available in voluntary change. Since we bring this change upon ourselves, if things become too uncomfortable, we can stop and often do. We’ve all had experience with this type, typified by the New Year’s Resolutions (and their reported 75% fail-factor). Brutal or not, it’s certainly anything but effective!
In November, my wife and I switched to a plant-based diet. For me it was an experiment inside an experiment. Apart from all the promised benefits, I was interested to see how I would react to a significant, voluntary lifestyle change. As a money coach it was similar in scope to the kind of personal change many of my coaching clients experience.
What are the similarities? Well, to open yourself up to new ideas, to look at things differently, to try new behaviours, to test old beliefs, to ignore what you observed others doing, to resist what others invited you to do and perhaps, most importantly, to stick with the new program long enough until things change.
When I mention my diet switch to others (Note: I’m not trying to convert anyone) the typical response I get is a list of all the foods they couldn’t give up. For example, cheese, eggs, milk, steak, etc. Since these people weren’t contemplating change, their reservations aren’t surprising. For 60+ years, I certainly enjoyed my share of these foods too. So, how have I and many others been able to let them go?
Change comes down to Why
It comes back to what I call our Why (something I’ve written about in the past). My wife and I had been eating less animal-based foods lately but we weren’t even contemplating going all the way. Then a coin dropped. A better picture emerged of what going fully plant-based would mean to us and the planet. We experience a defining moment. There was excitement for the adventure that lay ahead! So many new things to learn, new tastes to experience, new food-worlds to explore! With so much ahead, we could suspend our thoughts about what we were leaving behind.
If we had focused on how to survive giving up all the foods we enjoyed, our change would have turned into a daily battle and likely failed. Instead, we experienced a deeper Why i.e. an insight into how our lives would be better through making the change. Our guidance system was driven from within and it was directed ahead, not back.
Going back to the two types of change, many well known money gurus claim their financial turnaround came when they hit rock bottom i.e. the involuntary approach. They reported it as brutal but effective. They have a common message – it doesn’t have to be this way.
We have a new decade before us. Surely there is some change you’ve been harbouring deep within. Will you wait another 10 years? Do you have another 10 years? If this resonates with you, don’t dwell on the things you may have to leave behind. Instead, imagine the aspect of yourself you want to free. See it, feel it, breath it – like it’s real. Then begin stepping into it. Expect to feel uncomfortable at first but continue. Look for “green shoots” of new growth.
Don’t worry about those things you thought you couldn’t live without. You’ll find you don’t have to give them up – you will have outgrown them.