If you’ve read one of my pieces before, you probably know that I’m a big fan of using quotes. Specifically from philosophers – there’s just something about the timeless wisdom paired with their unmatched clarity. Being able to convey such powerful information and wisdom in such few words is inspiring. One of my favorite quotes about change is from Socrates.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates
Change is an interesting concept. When things are going well for us, we want everything to stay the same. But the reality of it is, life is nothing but change. The earth continues to orbit, rivers flow, seasons change, everything we know, including us, will one day die. Our bodies and energy will be recycled – taking new shapes and forms and repeating the process all over again.
The world moves on.
“The world is nothing but change. Our life is only perception.” -Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Understanding that life is nothing but change, we can learn how to work around this.
The secret to change is to focus ALL of your energy on building the new. If you do this, you don’t need to focus on fighting the old; you won’t have the time anyway.
Many of us are chained to our past. Stuck with our bad decisions and regrets – dragging them along with us everywhere we go. But what if it’s less about us being chained and more that we’re carrying them with us as baggage. Things happen, but maybe we have a bigger role in their continued impact than we realize. Maybe we can limit the energy they siphon from us by choosing not engage. We have the key to unlock the chains, we just have to do it.
Life is set up in such a way that if you really focus on something and make that your number one priority – higher than everything else – you will achieve it. This is more difficult than it sounds though.
The Comfort Trap
Why do we get so stuck in our lives and our routines? Because it’s easy, comfortable, and feels safe. But these feelings are the antithesis of change and growth. Being too comfortable is what gets us stuck in the first place. We get too comfortable, we lose our drive, and we settle. Nobody can blame us. The temptation is very real.
So how do we start changing?
The reality is that you’re fighting against some very powerful human instincts. When we’re comfortable, we feel safe, and we can be relaxed. Besides being enjoyable states of existing, there are clear benefits of feeling relaxed and being fully rested.
That being said, the first step is to: define what you want. Pick a clearly defined change or goal.
Examples of bad goals: I want to feel better or I want to eat better. These are no good. They’re much too ambiguous.
Instead, ask yourself these questions: What does it really mean to feel better or to eat better? How can I know if I’m succeeding? How can I hold myself accountable?
Some examples of better goals: I want to get stronger and progress at weight lifting by increasing weight or repetitions each week. Or instead of saying, “I want to drink less soda.” Say, “Instead of drinking 2 cans a day, I’ll only drink 1.”
These goals are better because we can track them and tell how we’re progressing. It gives us important feedback that we can use to adjust our efforts to become more efficient.
Next I would write down what your motivations are. I’ll use exercise as an example. If I asked 100 people ‘is exercise good for you?’ I would expect everyone to agree that yes, exercise is good for you. Everyone knows this. But simply knowing something isn’t going to give you the necessary motivation to get out there and bust your ass day after day to get it done.
No, that requires a reason.
Knowing your why
Our reasons are personal and can be any number of things. I started exercising regularly because I was unhappy with my diet, my body, and the shape that I was in. For a couple years, I struggled with chronic stomach issues for which I saw numerous doctors and tried various diets, but nothing seems to help. I was underweight and I chalked that up to genes or something being wrong with me. I would think to myself, “I can’t exercise, I barely take in enough calories to maintain my body weight.” I had a defeatist mentality. All of this contributed to me thinking that I couldn’t gain weight. I felt hopeless and I didn’t think change was possible.
However, with time and patience, I got my diet sorted out. My “chronic stomach issues” was a result of stress, poor diet, under-eating, and lack of exercise. Shocker.
So one by one I began sorting out my various issues. I started by eliminating the source of stress which got the ball rolling. Next I started making sure I wasn’t starving myself, that also helped a lot. And for the record, at the time I didn’t realize that I was under-eating – obviously I would have done something much sooner. I had stomach issues that I was trying to understand so I was avoiding certain foods. This limited my options which resulted in having fewer things to eat and I just wasn’t sure how to handle it. But eventually I learned what foods I needed to avoid and learned taking a fiber supplement helps a lot. So really, my why has some history behind it – I’ve wanted to change for quite some time now.
One final reason was the social aspect. It’s something I was missing in my life and I knew exercising would be a great way to spend more time with family and friends. So that became another motivating factor.
Here we are
After having done it for about 9 months, I’m in better shape, my diets much better, I’m happier, and more social. Over the past year, I’ve fallen in love with exercise. I look forward to going climbing, going on a jog, or doing pushups. I enjoy spending time with good people who push me to become a better version of myself. Although my motivations have shifted a bit, I find myself more motivated now than ever to continue pushing forward.
I’ve wanted to change for a long time, and I’m finally doing it.
Along with all the other beneficial habits I’ve adopted, I finally started a blog and publishing pieces. I should probably be ashamed to admit it, but it was something I had been afraid to do my entire life. I was afraid of being judged and feeling like a fool. Thankfully I’m past that and I’m moving forward with my life.
I wish I had started sooner.
Next time I will.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
I wrote another piece relating to change and the process of self evaluation If you’re interested, check that out here: https://becomingbetter730266670.wordpress.com/self-evaluate/