Thursday, August 21, 2014

To Be and Become

“You, too, can change your life if you are:
  • Dissatisfied with the lack of success you’ve had so far.
  • Willing to make a big change – and not just a minor adjustment.
  • Prepared to start working differently and thinking about yourself as a different kind of person.
  • Willing to start now by preparing yourself to succeed.”

Michael Masterson – The Pledge – Your Master Plan for an Abundant Life

I’m fascinated by the idea of being a different person.    I use the word “being” rather than “becoming,” but I wonder if both can be true.  Can one change gradually and instantly at the same time.   Before exploring this topic further, I have to ask, “What’s wrong with the person I am?” 
To answer that question, I have to assess my current life situation with the guiding principle that everything currently in my life, good and bad, is the result of choices I have made.  Yes, there are things beyond my choice, such as the origins of my birth, my family, many of my childhood experiences, and conditions or illnesses I might have.  (But even with those factors, I have the choice of attitude and how I will view them, and whether I will use them as obstacles or stepping-stones.)
The few X-factors aside, everything else in my life, good and bad, is the result of choices I have made.  The solution is simple then:  what I don’t like I have to change and what I do like I have to reinforce.  When I take an objective look at myself, I think I don’t always use my time as well as I’d like.  I can change that.
Sometimes I get irritable with people.  I can change that.
I struggle with being on time.  And I often delay work until it becomes a source of stress rather than pleasure. I can change these things, too. 
Today people can change their appearance through surgeries, reductions, enlargements, or transplants.  These procedures can be costly and painful.  Changing our character and habits is sill much more difficult.  It’s also more costly.  It will cost time and concentration.  It will not be a one-time fix.  You will have to do it every day.  You will have to stay up late and get up early.  You will spend less time with friends.  Forget most forms of entertainment and distraction. Forget sleeping for eight hours a night.   You will find that time is your both your favorite and least favorite boss.  Unlike people, time wants to be taken advantage of.  The more you take advantage of it, the better it will treat you.  
You may have to become a new person.  The old ways don’t work.  If they did, you wouldn’t consider changing a thing.  But they don’t work; if they did, you’d be wealthy or published or famous or fit or employed or whatever you want to be. But you aren’t.  But you can be if you change the way you do things and change the way you think.  How that looks specifically for each person is different, but change usually falls under one of the following categories for most of us:
·      Use of time
·      Use of money
·      Communication style
·      Work habits
·      Creating structure
·      Planning
·      Consistency

This is why I write almost every day.  I struggle with consistency, time management, creating structure, and work habits.  Writing on a daily basis is the key to changing my less desirable characteristics.
A change of attitude may also be required.  The following is something I’ve never shared with anyone, but I’m going to share it here, because my Muse wants me to be honest.  For much of my life there has been a voice whispering in my ear that says, “Take a break.  You work too hard.  Enjoy life.  You’ll make yourself sick if you overdo it.”
If I listen to that voice too much, (and I often have) then I usually get little or nothing done and, worse, I don’t even feel rested.  Rest comes after work, not before or during.  There are those who are on the opposite end of the spectrum who say to work 16-hour days 7 days a week.  Perhaps that extreme behavior keeps me stuck in the opposite end of the spectrum.  But to be a different person, I have to find the right balance and I have to begin thinking differently.  Thoughts change behavior and behavior changes thoughts. 
With regard to thoughts, I also need to be aware of mine.  If thoughts become angry, repetitive, or obsessive, then unless these help me in some way, they are useless at best, and harmful at worst.  Thoughts should be productive not destructive.  Few of us can afford the time or energy for useless thoughts.
It helps to know that we don’t have to change every area of our lives.   Some things work.  Some things are good.  We only have to change what doesn’t work, without neglecting what does.
We have to Get Started and Keep Going if we’re going to be new people.