♫ She’s fresh, exciting. She’s so exciting to me. ♫ -Kool & The Gang, “She’s Fresh”
Why can’t we look at changes in our lives like that?
The topic for this month is fresh starts. Really… life changes, but I think the word change has gotten a bad rap. Perhaps you prefer fresh start, new beginning, or innovation. Just keep that in your mind when you hear the word change so you aren’t immediately biased.
This topic was motivated by the new look and feel of my site. You can read the details in the final section. I was also inspired by two people close to me who are both going through fresh starts in their lives, career and location-wise.
We all go through constant changes, so why are we all so afraid of them? Or at the very least, ambivalent. Why can’t we see changes as fresh and exciting, like the girl that Kool & The Gang sing about?
I thought that would be a relevant topic to everyone so let’s take a look at changes.
So, we all go through a lot of changes in the course of our lives.
At times they are purposefully chosen as a new course. Other times, it is chosen for us. From big obvious changes such as altering our career path or relationship status to more subtle and personal changes such as altering our emotional disposition or even looks.
Who doesn’t love a good makeover? It can really change how you feel. In fact, people often change their look to align more closely with their new life or attitude.
Whether it is our choice or not, we go through many changes. You would think we have this whole concept mastered. We should all be shouting, “Change!? Bring it on!” Unfortunately, it isn’t that way for many of us. It can send our minds reeling with excuses and reasons to avoid the change.
So what is it really about? Fear. I am going to help you overcome your fear by telling you why you should embrace change, and not fear it.
1. You have to nothing to lose
Repeat after me… failing doesn’t make you a failure.
We all want to be successful, it feels good. Failing can be scary and humiliating, I get it.
But what is failing really? Trying and not being successful. You haven’t failed until you have truly stopped trying. This isn’t to say that you should grind away endlessly at a losing battle. There is wisdom in knowing when to stop. It just means don’t be too quick to judge something as a failure.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. – Thomas A. Edison
Think about the times that you have failed. If you can’t remember a time when you have failed, then you aren’t challenging yourself enough. My advice to you is to see the next 2 sections and then get out there and live life.
Okay, getting back to our failures. Ah, such sweet memories. Just kidding. What is the worst thing that happened to you because of failing? Hurt, disappointment, or embarrassment? But did it kill you, no. Was it a major bummer, yes. Did you learn, likely. See? Failing helped shape you. Hopefully, into a better person.
The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people. -Randy Pausch
If you are doing life right, you will fail at times. It is how we learn. But those brief instances of defeat don’t make you a failure.
As for the humiliating part, worry not! First of all, people are not as interested in you as you might believe. They are more concerned with themselves and all the other problems in the world to think twice about what you were unable to do. Second, what have your thoughts been about witnessing people be unsuccessful when honestly trying? Empathy and camaraderie, am I right? Everyone respects genuine effort.
Being a failure is a heavy mindset that you, and only you, put on yourself. If you decide that you will fail before you try or your mindset prevents you from trying, then you are a failure. Don’t be a failure. It’s a choice.
Life is a journey. If you stumble, pick yourself up by your bootstraps, dust yourself off, and move on. That is anything but failure, that is perseverance and courage.
If you try to expand your horizons and fail, you didn’t lose anything. You may not have reached your goal, but you have new experience and knowledge. Maybe you’ll be successful next time. Regardless, you are no worse off than when you originally started or someone who didn’t even try.
2. You will grow
So, uncertainty scares you. I get it. But think about the alternative to change, no changes at all. A life of repetition.
How would you know what you are capable of if you don’t try? How can you make the most of yourself without seeing what your limits are? The answer is, you can’t.
Do you want to be known for your potential or your achievements and adventures? Ultimately, you need to decide if you will be satisfied with a life of being scared to try. Moments of fear versus disappointment in a life of missed opportunities. A few slips versus the tragedy of life not lived, life of what-ifs. I think that is a no-brainer, don’t you?
(See Related: Why lifelong learning is lifelong living)
Ready to live? Then it is time to challenge yourself with change. In fact, happiness has been defined as a condition associated with the balance of skills and challenge, known as flow.
(See Related: How to be more happy with life using flow)
That balance is important. Too much challenge and you end up with anxiety. Too little of a challenge results in apathy. Do either of these words describe your life? Time for a change.
The world is changing with or without you. To be engaged with it you need to change along with it. It is all up to you if you embrace it.
Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer. -Randy Pausch
3. You design your own life
I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become. -Carl Jung
Being an adult is not always what it is cracked up to be. Freedom can be scary. It isn’t the lack of control that we fear, it is the fact that we have complete control.
It is easy to follow a paved road with laws and posted rules governing safe use. But what if there is no road? Or no map, with uncharted dangers no less? That is a lot harder. That is what we face in life and it can be humbling.
That much control is mind-boggling. Exercising your free will are the defining moments of your life. This is especially so for actions that diverge greatly from what you or others around you are accustomed to. I am not one for hyperbole, but it is true.
With change, we create (a.k.a. define) who we are. Through our actions we express what we believe in, what we want, and who we want to be. That is a defining moment if I have ever heard of one. By the way, inaction also defines you in the same manner.
(See Related: How to find out what you should do when you grow up)
Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life’s about creating yourself. -George Bernard Shaw
Move forward and embrace change
This article is not only to inspire you, but as a reminder to myself. Anxiety can occasionally get the best of me and I find I need a little encouragement for changes in my life. I doubt I am alone in that.
What was the last change in your life? Was it a conscious decision or one imposed upon you? Looking back on past failures, would you go back and do it differently?
I am not one of those people who wouldn’t change a thing in their lives because it made them who they are today. If I could go back and make changes, I definitely would. However, I would also keep a number of my failures just for the experience and to be able to say I tried. You?
My last change was an overhaul of this site. I took a little time to step back, gather my thoughts, and implement changes, um, I mean innovations. We all have to do that from time to time. I loved the time to reflect so much, I may make it an annual event for my site.
Specifically, I reorganized my content into clearer and more user-friendly categories. I also added a new category for my nerdy friends, Puzzle play. If you feel like exercising your gray matter you can explore that. I will also be instituting monthly themes so each month’s content will be related to a common subject. This will allow me to cover topics from different perspectives.
I hope this article gives you a little courage to face the challenges of your life. Go make a positive change today!
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Thomas A. Edison quotes from Brainyquote.com
Finding the motivation to change your entire life from Zen Habits
Positive Thinking quotes from Creative Affirmations
The difference between failing and being a failure from Create the Map
The only way to make positive change in your life from Psychology Today
You will fail. And it’s okay. from Medium