Friday, October 24, 2008
7 Ways to Change Your Life
They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. Psalm 145:6
Okay, so you want to lose weight but it just never seems to happen. Or you try to get out of debt, but your checkbook just isn't cooperating. Maybe you REALLY want to get rid of that bad habit that's been plaguing you for years, but like an unwelcome guest, it never quite leaves. Why is change so hard?
Whether you feel stuck in a job that no longer suits you, you're getting over a relationship that’s ended, adjusting to a new baby (or empty nest) or something else, change is not always easy. In fact, it can seem downright impossible.
I believe that real change is possible. Difficult, but not impossible.
Change is in the air here in Colorado as summer's green leaves show off their new fall fashions in crimson red, burnt orange and vivid yellow. This week it was warm and sunny one day, and another day it snowed. In mid-October! Abrupt changes are common here at the foothills of the Rockies. In fact, some say, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute."
Weather changes we may tolerate. Other changes not so much. We want things to be different, we really do. But whether you use the word change, alter, modify, vary, transform, or revolutionize, we often resist the very things that could help us, heal us or make our life better.
We resist change for myriad reasons: because we like things the way they are, because it takes effort, because we have no motivation or incentive, because we don’t think it’s in our best interest—or even if we do, we feel selfish, lazy, or we lack willpower. Sometimes we simply don’t want to attempt to change because we think we may fail, or we don’t have the energy, time, money, resources, (fill in the blank with your excuse of choice).
Say you really want to lose weight, for example, but you don’t want to give up your treats. Salty or sweet, you just don’t want to. So the number on the scale never budges--or it gets higher and higher. Argh!
Nothing changes if nothings changes. Yep, we've all heard that before. Here are some things I’ve learned about altering my life:
1) Do something, even if it's a small thing. Change often comes in baby steps. Just do ONE THING differently today, and then build on that momentum. Like eat a green vegetable with your French fries. Add healthy food to your diet, then takeaway the bad stuff. One thing.
2) Get motivated. I’ve heard that the two main motivations in life are FEAR and DESIRE. Going back to the losing weight example, we can choose to make changes in our eating and exercise level out of fear (I may get a major disease and die early, or worse), or desire (I want to be healthy, I want to look good and feel good about myself, or whatever the reason). What motivates you to make changes? Who can you ask—a trusted friend or family member—to help you stay accountable to making the step-by-step changes in your life?
3) Get inspired. Chuck Swindoll once said that self discipline is “doing what you don’t want to do, so you can have what you’ve always wanted.” Hmm. I may not want to walk, go to the gym, or eat a lot of green stuff, but I really want to be healthy, fit into clothes I haven’t worn in years, avoid disease, and have more energy. It’s like the old saying “short term pain for long term gain.”
4) Choose wisely. Actions have consequences. If you don’t send out resumes or make phone calls, you’ll never get another job. If you don’t move your body and get some exercise, the shape stays the same. Someone I know once told me, “Everything is a choice, so choose wisely.”
5) Pray! Give your struggles to God and ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to help you. He is the only one who can make real and lasting changes in your life. When we are weak, He is strong in us. Prayer is the most important thing you can ever do to change your life.
6) Take a risk. Behold the turtle who only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.
7) Perspective. Take a long view. The growing pains of change may seem hard, but they won’t last forever. It’s like being “under construction” in your life. When a road is being repaired, workers put up signs and orange safety cones. It looks like a total mess for a few weeks or months. But eventually, the work is done; and when it’s over, things run a lot more smoothly.
Change can be good. Moment by moment, and choice by choice it happens.
And then you start seeing positive results, and you feel really good. Success! Victory! Overcoming! Things really can be different. Even for you. I can almost see it now…just stay connected to the One who never changes and see what He can do.
You are the God who performs miracles;you display your power among the peoples. Psalm 77:14
Jackie M. Johnson is an author and freelance writer in Colorado. Her hope-filled and encouraging books include "Power Prayers for Women," "When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty" and "Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times." Jackie also writes the Living Single blog on Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk website.