How Change Happens (and Why)
There’s always something we want to change. But do we? What happens between that gap: the moment when we desire to change and the moment when we begin the change? And sustain it. That’s the magic gap. There’s so many reasons why we hesitate to start. It’s exhausting. It could be uncertain. Or we could be too busy. Whatever the case, we must closely look at this magic gap. How does change happen? What is that driving force that creates decisive action to change?
In the world of beer and wine, brewers understand the importance of time. The fermenting process cannot be rushed. For instance, once the sugary wort is turned into beer by the yeast, many brewers let the beer age in barrels. This process called barrel-aging transforms the beer or wine in very unique ways. Change is like barrel-aging. It takes time. The first step in understanding how change happens is to recognize and accept that change doesn’t happen overnight. While we may recognize this, it’s likely that we haven’t accepted it. Would you say that you’re truly patient in the process of change? Or do you rush for results? Only slow and constant change is lasting.
To understand how change happens, let’s explore the following:
First, we know we need to change something. But most often than not, we haven’t changed because definite change is hard. It requires a lot of effort. It can be scary, or uncertain, or we don’t have what we need. But the fact that we haven’t embarked on the journey to changing what we need is due to a lack of commitment. And how do we commit? We begin the process of commitment when we both evaluate and trust that we will persist no matter the challenges. We switch our thinking from worry to action.
Another reason why we don’t commit is because simply you might not feel like it. Of course we won’t. Understanding commitment is realizing that committing is about doing the work in spite of how you feel. Commitment closes the gap between desire and action. Commitment makes lessons useful instead of scary. This virtuous cycle ensures you stay committed instead of quitting. You commit when you begin to ask better questions, and you look harder for solutions. You don’t see a setback as proof that you can’t, but as proof that you’re invested and on your way forward. To stay committed reach out and connect with others, and find out how they’re doing it too. Change begins at commitment.
Like a fine wine fermenting and aging, change happens slowly but decisively. Change is seldom linear and feedback isn’t instant. Your actions will only make sense in time. Patience is surrendering to your expectations. You know where you’re headed but you can’t control how you’ll get there. As soon as you understand this realization you’ll be able to also be more resourceful. Patience is about embracing the present as is to get to a desired future. Just like you can’t rush fermentation, you can’t rush change.
c) Having fun
Engaging in practice to change and learning to love this process seems to me like one of the most important yet underrated skills in modern times. The usual business of working under extreme pressure, being results-oriented, and multitasking is, in my opinion, the main reason why change becomes grueling.
In his book The Practicing Mind, Thomas M. Sterner offers a refreshing alternative: “When, instead, your goal is to focus on the process and stay in the present, then there are no mistakes and no judging. You are just learning and doing. You are executing the activity, observing the outcome, and adjusting yourself and your practice energy to produce the desired result.” Being a first-mover, aiming high, and expecting perfection is not the best approach to begin personal change. Keep it simple. Set reasonable goals. And celebrate small milestones. Do have fun in the process. But how can something hard be fun? Find the fun.
Why change happens is due to your commitment. And commitment springs out of clarity and good personal coaching. How change happens (getting to commit) is about telling yourself a different story: a more positive and compelling story of you succeeding, enjoying it, and taking it slowly. Forget about unrealistic and unfair goals. Ignore judgemental people. You don’t have to go big or fast. Remember, rushing the fermentation is a sure way to spoiling the wine. No world-class beer or fine wine is made overnight. So take the barrel-aged approach to change: it’s way more likely that you will actually begin, and make the change happen!
Juan F. Diaz
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