Until a few months ago, my home office looked like a scene from a horror film — the kind where the walls move in, to crush the heroine. Stacks of books and papers made it hard to feel creative, but after years of being squished, I’d simply grown used to it. I’m a fairly simple and minimalist person, but somehow papers, books and newspaper cuttings are my weakness. I can save them and feel like I never need to let them go, even long after their use and life has passed.
Then I visited my friend Evita’s site and followed her to Work Happy Now by Karl Staib, where she was giving a video tour of her home office space. I was stunned by her gorgeous workspace. She’d taken over one of the spare bedrooms!
Our third bedroom – the largest space in the house – was just a guest room. I immediately traded spaces, and now it’s my dream office. The question that the belated ‘Great Office Shuffle’ posed to me was this:
Why is it so hard to make a change when your life would obviously be much better if you did?
The reasons are usually pretty simple. You’re comfortable enough – and coping with change is scary. I know a woman who was fired from her long-term job as an assistant to a mortgage broker. At first she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to make a living. She missed her predictable life. But within a year, she opened her own brokerage firm and now she’s the boss. We’ve all heard of similar instances where life changes for the better after someone is evicted from his or her comfort zone. If you want to overcome fear and inertia, and embrace change more willingly, here are a few suggestions.
Do something, Don’t just sit there!
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
There’s something about making a commitment and putting yourself out there that invites success, even though it may not come instantly or through the obvious channels. For example, a few years ago one of my friends was longing to find a mate. Eager and determined, she decided to make meeting ‘Mr. Right’ her first priority. So she scraped together her resources and visited an expensive matchmaker, to no avail.
Considerably poorer but still undaunted, she searched the Internet and snagged dozens of dates. Still no keepers. But apparently her bold intention had tilled the ground, and success came through an unexpected pathway… She was walking her dog one morning and literally bumped into a recently widowed man who lived in an apartment building just few blocks away. And yes, they are still living happily ever after.
Don’t just do something, Sit there!
Maybe you know that something has to give, but you’re not sure what or how. Or perhaps other people are pushing you to do something, but you need to search your heart and determine if it’s their dream or yours.
I believe we all know in our hearts what to do to cope with change - we just have to listen. Setting aside an evening for journaling and reflection can help you tune in to your deepest wisdom. Turn off the phone and arrange to be undisturbed. Take 10 or 15 minutes to quiet your body and mind through meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.
Then ask your inner advisor, What is needed for my best life to emerge? or any other question that feels appropriate to your situation. Sit quietly for a few more minutes and then jot down whatever comes to you. You might do this once, or daily for a period of weeks or even months. Be prepared for the light to dawn in unexpected ways – say, through a dream or conversation. You can’t force insight, but it certainly favors the prepared soul.
Keep your goal in mind and Be brave
If you wait until everything in your life feels safe and predictable, you may lose your opportunity. Courageous people aren’t fearless. They just take action in spite of their fears. Last January, my husband, and I decided to simplify our lives-physically, materially and emotionally.
For a person like me, who loves her stuff and who loved collecting every card she ever ever got, giving up and letting go of all that stuff was a difficult shift. What if the project was a disaster? What if it ruined our fledgling marriage? But we kept the goal in mind, and the risk was more than worth the effort. Completing the project brought both of us, and our marriage, to a new level of trust and intimacy. Change expands the territory in which you live and lets your fullest potential shine.
Rope in an ally
Once you’ve announced your plans to another person, you’re more likely to follow up – because if you don’t, someone is there to hold your feet to the fire. Earlier this year, due to months of shifting base, I’d stopped exercising. Then a friend of mine and I had a heart-to-heart about the lack of balance in our lives.
Though we both wanted to start exercising again, neither one of us had managed to make the change alone. We agreed to meet for several brisk walks each week to inspire ourselves to get back on track. The effect was immediate. We started walking more, both for each other and for ourselves. Personally I love Yoga, but walking just pumps up the energy levels, both physically and mentally.
How to get support to change – Practical Tips
Stir up your routine - That way, no one can ignore your new plans. Move the treadmill into the living room or start driving your friends and family past the house you want to buy. When loved ones see you’ve made an effort, they’re more likely to offer encouragement.
Announce your plans - Use the present tense: “I am starting my own business” instead of “I will” Friends will soon want updates on your goals, and you’ll be more likely to honor your word.
Don’t keep a stiff upper lip - If you’re unhappy with your life now, seek counsel from friends about what’s wrong – and how you can change it.
Plan your reward – Tell others you’ll throw a party when you’ve accomplished an important goal. Pick a target that’s reasonable to accomplish in 6 months and set the date. That gives your friends incentive to keep you focused.
The best motivation for change is a heartfelt desire to live your best life, not only for yourself but also to make the world a better place.
That’s important for friends and loved ones to understand, because when you start your transformation, they might fear that you’ll leave them behind. But good change isn’t a selfish thing. It’s a validation of the fact that all people continue to grow throughout life, and that our potential for both work and love is much vaster than we might ever have dared to imagine.