Amid all the seasonal hoopla there is a small, but growing, theme that is emerging. It, like all the other seasonal appeals, happens every year. Turn on a radio and listen for a few minutes and you’ll hear an ad for a gym, new diet, or supplement that will “dramatically change your life in 2014.” Change is in the air – perhaps.
The truth of the matter is that change isn’t easy and most people really do not want it. Evidence for that is the fact that every year we hear the same message and we make similar resolutions. In fact one study showed that 90% of people that went through coronary by-pass did not change their behavior but went back to the same habits that were killing them. W.H. Auden had a point; he said people would rather face ruin than change.
Change of any kind takes sacrifice, commitment, and desire. It also requires people to deal with pain (related to loss of something), fear, conflict, and a willingness to disappoint people (when you no longer go out for a smoke or order a salad instead of a burger). But change is necessary in all of our lives – nothing stays the same. It is a sad thing to say to someone, “You haven’t changed a bit.”
A few days ago a friend of mine related an experience. During a leadership conference he was asked a question that has stayed with him. The question was simply, “What will happen if you do not change?”
Think of that question for a moment. What will happen if you do not change your bad habits? What will happen if you do not start taking better care of yourself? What will happen if you do not start doing a better job at work? What will happen if you do not start moving toward your spouse – loving him/her better? What will happen if you do not forgive?
Just asking the question is a step in the right direction. Honest reflection is important but it isn’t enough to just be self-aware. We need to be “self-active” as well. Put those two things together and real, significant, life long changes can occur – way more than a new diet or gym membership.
One tip that I think may prove helpful in not only answering the question but also making change is found in the word tweak. In a recent NPR: TED Radio Hour,Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, said, “Small tweaks can lead to big change.” If you are so inclined to try and answer the question, “what will happen if I do not change?” then you may want to think about making small tweaks as you wrestle thru the beneficial, but also tough parts, of making significant changes to your life.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!