I recently came across a witty little sign at a Cafe counter that said: “If you don’t like change, we’ll have it”. It is a clever way of asking for tips and I’m sure many of their customers like me appreciated their sense of humour by leaving them some loose change.
What is even more clever, is that they have honed in on something that just about everyone fears at one time or another. The vintage coffee pot they have as a tip jar is always full; a sure sign that lots of people don’t like change!
Change, of the ‘other’ variety, is one of those things, isn’t? We all want it or recognise the need for it at various stages of our life, yet very few of us find the process easy. We might imagine how much better our life would be if things were different and while the end result is appealing and desirable, making the necessary changes to get us there, is often difficult, challenging and even fearful.
The prospect of making changes and ‘new beginnings’ as a brand new year approaches is exciting and promising as many of us make a list of our ‘resolutions’! But what are New Year resolutions about anyway? When you think about it, it is usually all about doing more or less of something or trying something new – work less, spend more time with family; read more books; travel more; eat healthier; stop smoking (or drinking!); worry less; exercise more; be more assertive; be less aggressive, take up pottery, do more gardening, go parachuting, etc. All of which require change – change of habits, change of routine, change in the way we think, behave or feel. No wonder most of these resolutions are ‘broken’ very soon into the new year. Because change is difficult at the best of times; and big changes are even more so if we have been ‘stuck’ in a particular pattern for a long time.
That does not mean that we avoid change; but rather than trying to change the world from one day to the next so to speak, why not take little steps to changing little habits that won’t necessarily make or break you. Why would you want to do that you may ask, if it won’t make any difference to my life? Well, it’s all about getting ‘unstuck’; getting used to the concept of change – re-wiring your mind if you like, to accept things differently, to break your routine and habits in small ways so that the significant changes you want to make won’t be so scary.
So here are five easy steps to introduce change into your life, without fear and without waiting for the new year to start!
• walk on the opposite side of the road than the one you are used to. You will be amazed at how different everything looks, even your own street. It opens up a new perspective of your neighbourhood and suddenly you’re thinking new thoughts!
• buy a new brand of toothpaste (or something else you routinely buy). Instead of reaching for the same old brand without thinking about it, stop, have a look at what else is available and you’re taking a little step to changing a habit
• take a new route to work, school or your local shops. Whether you walk, drive, cycle, or use public transport, there’s bound to be another way of getting there; again shaking up your routine in a small way
• If you ‘always’ have the same thing for lunch (or breakfast), consciously decide to have something else. Again, you will be breaking a habit, re-igniting brain neurons to take a different path and in the process you might discover something much better than what you’ve been used to
• Tune in to a different radio station. Yes, you might like ‘your’ particular presenter, or the music they play or the talk-back or whatever else you might be attached to. But how much harm would it do, if you got to know another radio station and other presenters, or even different music? You might like it better, and you will be sending a little message to your brain, that you’re open for change!!
There are countless other ways you can begin to introduce small changes into your life that are not scary or challenging and doing something outside of your routine often, will set you up in the right frame of mind for the big, important changes. I realise that listening to a different radio station is not the same as getting out of a bad relationship for example, but you’re learning to listen to a different frequency that can carry through to other areas of your life; you’re opening up to new ways of thinking, of expression, opinions and different points of view.
Sometimes life throws us curve balls and change, big change even, is unavoidable if not forced upon us, no matter how much we want things to stay as they are. But if we train ourselves to embrace small changes into our daily life, we can handle the bigger changes with less stress and fear. Lots of small change in that vintage coffee pot eventually builds to a significant amount that has impact.
In John Wyndham’s words :
“The essential quality of life is living; the essential quality of living is change; change is evolution: and we are part of it” (The Chrysalids by John Wyndham)
NOTE: For specific advice on change and anxiety, we strongly recommend you read “Living Calm in a Busy World” by Pauline McKinnon; in particular Chapter 6: “The Steps to Change”
© Lucy Louca, Melbourne, December 2014