I was thinking about this question of how to change your life when I ran across this quote:
“Resistance to change is a natural part of the human condition. We all want progress, but we don’t like change, especially change imposed from the outside. No matter how crushing our problems, we generally prefer them to uncertainty.” -Mary Pipher
So it would seem that if you want to change your life , the first step is going to be cultivating a willingness to be uncertain, to fumble, to not have the answers. Also, to tolerate that gap between the person you have been and the person you are becoming. It’s something that I talk about in both the Courageous Living Coach Certification and to facilitators in Facilitate With Impact: how do we support the clients or participants that we work with during that tumultuous time when they’re letting go of what is familiar and going on nothing other than trust that there’s something waiting for them if they take that step?
How To Change Your Life : A Handy Metaphor
I often invoke this metaphor with people who want to change their lives: that when you are trying to make a decision to change your life , you cannot have one foot on the boat that’s trying to cast off, and another foot on the dock.
Imagine it, if you will: two legs stretched between these two points, the boat trying to move away. At some point, you either jump on the boat or you stay on the dock and admit that today just isn’t the day for change.
Much is made of (in this metaphor) jumping on the boat and seeing what adventures await, but really, deciding to stay on the dock is okay. There’s plenty of powerful growth material to work with if you make a conscious decision to stay where you are. Why did you stay? Why was it not the right time to leave behind an old way of being? How have old habits influenced that decision? What capital-s “Stories” are you believing that might need to be reframed? If you access the body, what does it tell you? How can you cultivate courageous habits so that the next time you’re considering getting onto the metaphorical boat of change, it feels like a more doable move to make?
How To Change Your Life : Explore Resistance
We spend so much time resisting change, that we get caught in thinking our options are either to change or to fight change. There’s actually a third option: explore your resistance. Get curious and try to understand it and see it from every possible angle. Arnold and Amy Mindell say, “Resistance to a process, is a process.”
And of course, “Explore resistance” is just another way to say “Explore fear.”
We become more comfortable with uncertainty—and less resistant—by intentionally cultivating a life where we are exposed to uncertainty. You try new things, you make new plans, you invite daring people to dinner and ask them your most honest questions. You risk being unliked, because the reward will be finding out the people who love you for taking the risk of being yourself.
What we mostly do as humans is return to our old habits, over and over, because they are familiar. It’s possible to break old habits and create better habits with enough conscious attention on what you do and how you do it. But that curiosity, that willingness to explore your resistance and develop resilience amid uncertainty, is part of that process, too. It’s right when things get uncertain that we usually go back to our old habits and then the process of change is halted.
But there’s this crazy-amazing thing that you can do, right at that gap point between old ways of being and deciding to change your life: practice courage. This won’t involve fearlessness; it’ll involve putting conscious attention on every critical voice inside suggesting that you quit or back down, and deciding to lean in, anyway.
If you want to change your life, it’s less about the goals you establish and more about the way of being that you adopt.
Curious, flexible during times of uncertainty, willingness to take risks in the name of what you most desire? Those are the things that we can consciously choose, every day.