This weekend I was running errands with my *almost* twelve-year-old daughter. We needed to return two chairs that didn’t work in our new house. As I was placing one in the shopping cart, I turned to find her trying her best to lift the other chair out of the back of my truck.
“Hey!” I said. “That’s heavy! Let me help you with that.”
“No, I got it,” she said firmly.
Her thin arms shook as she lifted it out. I let her try to put it into the shopping cart, but when it started rolling away, I had to jump in. She was pissed. But as we walked into the store, I watched her carefully, my only daughter and the youngest of my two kids. She tries so hard to be tough and has never cared for big shows of affection. When she was two, she would say “good-bye” when I tucked her in and roll over and go to sleep! It was disconcerting, to say the least, especially after raising her brother, who couldn’t get enough hugging and snuggling at bedtime. As she got older, she stopped hugging me back and would simply stand there with her arms limp by her side. I always accepted it as ‘how she was wired’ and let it go. Her father is the same way. I chalked it up to genetics and didn’t want to try to change her or make her uncomfortable.
I read once that all it takes is one person – one person to believe in you and it can make the difference between becoming a heroin addict on the street vs. becoming a happy, successful person. I agree, but seriously? It takes way more to make real, lasting change in your life. I have always embraced change because I know that while it is tough, good things happen on the other side. It’s the only way to move forward! That’s why change management is one of the best parts of my work. I get to listen to people share their concerns and help them get to the other side. It’s very satisfying to see people get there and know that I played a small part in that journey.
There are a few things I’ve learned along the way that you might find useful. Now, bear in mind, I am not a counselor. I am not a psychologist. I am just a person like you who’s had to navigate my share of change. Here’s what helped me and I hope it helps you too:
1. Hold the intention. Whether your goal is to lose weight, advance in your career, get back to your creative work, or anything else, you must hold the intention to focus on that goal. Block time out on your calendar each week that is dedicated to achieving your goal and plan for that time. Set out your workout clothes the night before your workout. Cook your healthy food for the week every Sunday. Get your creative space ready with all the materials you need the day before. Think about your dedicated time and plan for it. Hold the intention to do the thing that you want to do. The thing that you think you cannot do, to paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt. You not only can do it. You will. Your stuff is already out and ready, after all. 🙂 I used this technique to lose 40 pounds and keep it off for 2.5 years. I’m nothing special – if I can do it, you can too!
In my last post, I talked about seeing the possibilities one step at a time. Today I want to talk about clarity – once you see a situation clearly, what do you do with it? Where do you go from there? I will start this off by saying I’m not a counselor or licensed in anything at all, I am just a person trying to do my best in life with what I have, so – grain of salt with all of this, okay? And remember that I am a writer, so I think best in metaphors. So here goes…
So I saw this quote early today at the gym and I had to share it with you: “Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see farther” by John Pierpont Morgan. (Note to self: love that the source says, “This quote is about possibilities.” – Thanks for clarifying!!) You know how people and quotes and things come into your life at seemingly just the right time? This quote did that for me. And I hope it does the same for you.
I think we are all looking for possibilities. I’ve been talking to a lot of folks lately who are dealing with some tough situations – my creative cohert in crime and one of my all-time favorite people Susan is convinced that there is something in the air polluting things for everyone. (Thinking about all the toxins in the air, water and food, I violently believe she is correct – I will specifically mention my personal aversion to Sweet ‘n Low for those I have been trying to talk out of using – you know who you are. 🙂 ) But there are always tough situations that need to be managed. People lose their jobs and their homes, die, divorce, move on, get pissed, you name it. The questions should be not – why me? Or, why did this happen? The questions must be: where do I go from here? And most importantly, what do I want? (Another wise friend gave me that last one – lucky for me I know all these wise people.)
One of the cool parts of my job is that I get to learn about some really cool, complex stuff that is completely outside of my realm of expertise or reality. The second coolest part is that I get to work with a lot of really smart people who take the time to explain it to me. 🙂 (They are *mostly* very patient of my questions and ignorance.) The reason I am invited to this party is because I have a knack for translating complicated stuff and making it easy for people to understand. One concept that I am learning about right now is the open platform. Here is a more ‘formal’ explanation from Wikipedia:
In computing, an open platform describes a software system which is based on open standards, such as published and fully documented external application programming interfaces (API) that allow using the software to function in other ways than the original programmer intended, without requiring modification of the source code. Using these interfaces, a third party could integrate with the platform to add functionality. The opposite is a closed platform.
Now, being a thinker (much to my detriment at times, especially when I OVERthink), I started thinking about this concept of open in terms of real life. Some people are too open; translated, we call this over sharing, TMI (too much information), PIA (pain in the ass), etc. (Not sure what this looks like? Find a hypochondriac on Facebook.) Some people are too closed; translated, we call this shut down; small-minded; or someone in need of a stiff drink.
But what if we applied the concept of an open platform to our own lives and way of thinking? We’re all born with a certain temperament, aptitude and skill set. Putting the nature vs. nurture debate aside, what if we could open our minds to different ways of thinking, problem solving, and basically our whole approach to life? We’re already halfway there with our standards and systems: structured education programs, religion, hell, even books like All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (we start young, don’t we?).