Heart to Heart: Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes
As I looked in the mirror at the new me, I could see that I looked a lot better. But for some reason what I felt was nervous. I looked better, but did I look good enough yet? Was this the best I could look? Could I reproduce the effects at home on a daily basis or was I doomed to continue looking pretty ordinary most of the time?
My New Year’s Resolution for 2013 was “embrace change.” I thought this was going to be a pretty easy goal. I was leaving a job I was burned out on to return to journalism, which is my passion. I would be working with my good friend. Surely, this would all be sunshine and lollipops.
Since January, I’ve been struggling to adjust to my new life, where I don’t go to an office from 9-5. I love the freedom, but the self-imposed discipline has been a real struggle. I’ve been forced to realize that I’m inherently pretty lazy and without the structure of 9-5, it’s hard to maintain my work ethic.
All my life I’ve struggled with my lack of attention to detail. I tend to have creative bursts when I get a lot done and I’ve been able to skate by on the fact that writing and thinking up things to write about comes fairly easily to me. Not so spelling things correctly and seeing stray blank spaces between words. I’ve had this problem my whole life. Can I overcome it now in order to succeed at my new gig? I don’t know. I’m trying really hard.
After beating myself up over my faults for a bit and not getting far, I decided to take another approach. I did what I always do in this situation. I read a book. In this case I read two. The first was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In spite of being relatively content to begin with, Rubin thought there should be more happiness in her life. Instead of making resolutions that were always broken and created yet more reasons to beat herself up, she set out to get it by choosing a goal a month to promote her own happiness. My first goal, for May 2013 is “stop procrastinating.”
In service of this goal I read yet another book. (Do you sense a trend here?) This one is The Now Habit by Neil Fiore. This book has a lot of great tips, but my favorite is this one. Don’t worry about finishing, worry about starting. Getting started might be as much as three-fourths of the battle, Guess what? This works. I’m actually making progress on my backlog of stories and I’m sitting here writing this column, even though it isn’t absolutely required for tomorrow’s Los Alamos Daily Post.
I’m not doing full make-up every morning, but I’m doing it sometimes. I’m thinking about my appearance more without obsessing about how I look. There might be hope.
Change is frightening for a lot of reasons. It doesn’t have a familiar outcome and that’s scary, even if your former outcomes have been bad. What if we can’t make these changes we keep talking about? What then? When I get scared, I remind myself that doing nothing also has a cost. If something doesn’t work or doesn’t make me happy, the world is full of new strategies and options to try.
The rabbi and philosopher Hillel, who I think might be the smartest guy ever, had this to say,
“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”
I’m going to ask myself these questions every morning and see what happens.