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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Change: Slowly but Surely


As we enter Springtime, dramatic shifts in the earth can help us wake up the dreams that have been percolating in our hearts since winter. It's a chance to rededicate ourselves to the things that have purpose in our lives and the dreams of change that we are hoping for.

Most of us strive to change patterns that have held up back from feeling good about our efforts and the outcomes. But how does change come about? Do we just say "I will change" and voila we are a different person without the old habits? Rarely. Changing that which does not work for us is usually like dying a small death. Procrastination, impatience, overeating, undersleeping- whatever it is that you want to change and improve for the year ahead usually takes some very conscious effort. I know this personally, and want to share a short story of a small change that I thought would never come about.

I have a shed where I store some of my most valuable and of course oversized items-my sporting gear. I have enough bikes to outfit a team and a quiver of surfboards that will work in every size wave from small to tall. This treasure trove is guarded by a deadbolt that a few months ago had an internal tumbler that got out of place and caused the lock to be impossible to open. I managed to get the deadbolt unlocked one last time and then it was time for CHANGE! Instead of using the same lock that I had for ten years, I now had to use the lock on the doorknob itself.

This seems like a very simple change right? WRONG. Here is how it went. Every single time I went to unlock my shed I put the key into the deadbolt (old pattern that had not begun to change even though I knew I needed to change it). It was not until I tried to turn the lock that I would immediately realize that, woops, I put the key in the frozen deadbolt rather than the doorknob.

Week Two: things got a little better. I still put the key in the old lock but remembered this was not the right place BEFORE I turn it to no avail.

Week Three: I found myself splitting things between actually putting the key in the correct lock first and then, yes, still putting it into the wrong one. Tough to teach old dogs new tricks I suppose.

Week Four: it was about 75/25 with 75 being the percent of times that I got it right. Close but still no cigar.

Week Five: I only saw the key go into the old lock once, even though I will admit I started to reached for it a couple of times before I caught myself.

Week Six: Finally success! No false starts. I got the right lock first time every time.

It's now a couple of weeks since then and I have on occasion still reached for the wrong lock, but caught myself before the key came in contact with it. So I pose the question to each of you. If a simple thing like using a different lock on the same door was so tough, how will the big and certainly more important patterns ever get changed?

Well, maybe we need to be more aggressive in helping ourselves avoid the old lock (the old patterns). In my case, I could have put a piece of duct tape across the old lock and the old pattern as a stern reminder. "Don't go there". How will you place a piece of "duct tape " across the pattern that you are trying to change this year? If you don't, what will remind you that you have once again reached for the old lock rather than opening the door to your future with the new one? My lock didn't turn, so it was a very quick reminder. "You are in the wrong place, buddy." What will your reminder be that you have once again used the old pattern rather than changed and used a new one? What can you do to stop your old pattern in its tracks every time you do to insert the key in the wrong place?

I needed to get into that shed just about every day, and with the old lock I had no choice but to change the pattern. I couldn't give up. It took me six weeks, but I finally succeeded. What will force you to keep working on change until it indeed comes about, until you also reach for the right lock to open your shed of good fortune and joy?

We have a new president whose mantra was Change. Our economy needs change, the world needs change. As Brant has told me thousands of times, "Change starts with you". May the change you want and need come about, and that it is a joyous year filled with lots of good moments and of course, much health and happiness!

5 comments:

  1. hi mark-good story-very helpfull
    love from crete
    gabriella

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for sharing what we all experience while trying to establish a healthier life. As a nutritionist/herbalist, I see this exact pattern of behavior with almost all clients I see who are trying to change ingrained habits. We need to be gentle with ourselves and have patience, knowing we WILL arrive at a better place emotionally, physically and spiritually one small step at a time.

    Linda Vaughan

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for sharing a common experience to all of us trying to make changes toward a healthier life. As a nutritionist/herbalist, I see this pattern show up so often with those who are trying to change very ingrained habits. We need to be gentle with ourselves and know we WILL enjoy a emotionally, physically and spiritually balanced life one small step at a time as this story demonstrates.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just got your book and have read most of it already. It's a real inspiration and is already helping me in my (very) slow but (hopefully) sure transformation of my life.

    What started out as a crazy sporting goal (irondistance triathlon) is turning into so much more.

    Thank you both!

    FBT

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great article and perfect timing for me personally. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete

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