Like many people, I claim I like change. At various times during my life, I’ve even described myself as a change agent. However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that my appreciation for a transition in my own life depends on who is in charge of the change.
Like most people, I am more likely to embrace change when I am the one who chooses it. For instance, I just completed a 21-day clean eating plan. I am in a much happier place being the one who decided to change what I consumed for three weeks instead of having it forced on me. (Still, I must admit that I’ve missed you, cheese and wine.) I selected this option because I believe this three-week jumpstart would allow me to get back in touch with what’s going on with my body (which will be the topic of a later blog.) I committed to this short-term change because I believe it ultimately will lead to long-term health improvements through raising my awareness of my relationship with food.
I’ve also made bigger changes during my life – taking another job, enrolling in graduate school after 20 years out of the classroom, moving to another city. Being in control when making these larger transitions helped me build a launch pad to deal with both the expected and the surprises. The sense of anticipation and the thrill of discovery outweighed (for the most part) the potential terror of being a novice again.
Who’s in Charge Here?
I’ve also experienced changes that weren’t in my control – flooding in my home after a torrential rain, unexpectedly being thrown into a caregiving role, getting laid off. Those changes weren’t ones that I would have chosen but they offered a silver lining through providing important life lessons — a new perspective about what’s an inconvenience vs. a crisis due to the flooding, a recommitment to compassion from caregiving and resilience thanks to unemployment.
In hindsight, there were hints that several of these changes were coming; however, like most people, I ignored them, thinking that my day-to-day life would remain the same. I’ve learned that going through life wearing blinders can lead to turbulence that smashes you into hidden boulders in the river of life. The bruises that are gained from these life lessons are painful but extremely valuable – and also can lead to increased awareness when the warning signals of an impending change start to emerge again.
But what about quantum change when you purposefully throw what’s working in your life to the wind and knowingly step into the void? That notion came to me after watching author Elizabeth Gilbert and her husband, Jose, discuss their decision to close their flourishing business in a YouTube announcement. Surely they’ve talked some about what’s next in their lives, but the video suggests that they are (again) purposefully leaving what is working to make room in their life for all-encompassing change and all the adventure (and learning) that comes with it. (And to a certain extent, this isn’t a surprise based on Liz’s globe-trotting adventure that led to her breakaway best-seller, Eat,Pray, Love.)
Still, that’s a level of change that I’ve not quite reached (and I daresay, most people haven’t either). Yet perhaps we should use Liz Gilbert’s video as a clarion call to seek out new opportunities and say yes to more change (and adventure) in our life. Let’s toast to that idea and to embracing change in all its forms!