Life on the path, choosing to question and think for yourself, should invariably lead to change. However, change is hard. In my experience, the act of changing is actually harder than the vagaries of life on the path itself.
As hard as I tried to keep the changes I want to make, changes I needed to make, top of mind, I inevitably found myself backsliding. While I knew for certain it was my commitment to the process of changing that would ultimately deliver me to my true and best self, consistent execution was hard. But it was consistent execution that would lead to growth and transformation. The process was totally circular, which made it all the more frustrating.
Change comes from within. Change is an inside job. Change the way you look at things. To change, stack your habits. There are many motivational quotes, sayings, and processes that pointed to the issue. Me. I needed to change what I did to change who I was. I get it. But most days, knowing that was of very little help.
So, it was with great interest that I happened upon a quote by James Clear, author of Atomic Habits: Tiny Change, Remarkable Results:
We do not change by snapping our fingers and deciding to be someone entirely new.
We change bit by bit, day by day, habit by habit . . .
No single instance will transform your beliefs.
Clear’s point is that to change, really change, we need to stop setting goals for ourselves and change our identity. Goals are external and identities are internal. His suggestion is that you first decide the type person you want to be, then prove it to yourself with your actions.
It took a while for me to get it. But once I did, it was pure brilliance.
I was failing at change because I had it all backwards. I was using my actions to prove that I could become the kind of person I wanted to be. But each failure just reinforced that I was falling short of my goal, until, whether knowingly or unknowingly, I gave up.
What I needed to do instead was to define the type of person I want to be. So, I made a list:
· I want to be the type of person who acts from their heart.
· I want to be the type of person who acts with compassion for all.
· I want to be the type of person who lives in gratitude.
· I want to be the type of person who lives with equanimity.
· I want to be the type of person who . . .
With the list in mind, I looked for opportunities to prove to myself that I was actually transforming into the type of person I want to be. When faced with a decision or challenge, I paused and asked myself “What would a person who acts from their heart do?” Or “What would a person who acts with compassion for all do?” Then I did just that. I didn’t have to remember or decide. I acted in ways that supported the type of person I want to be.
And bit by bit, day by day, by aligning my actions with the type of person I want to be, I changed my identity. I changed the way I view myself. I changed from the inside out.
If not now, when?
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