In this season of traditions it can be hard to think about change. In a focused way, I mean, a way that’s internal and wholehearted as opposed to, er, decorative. But it’s as good a time as any to process those deeper questions about change.
Brian Andreas of the Story People has some good advice for successful celebration of the holidays: “1. Get together with the family. 2. Relive old times. 3. Get out before it blows.” I LOVE this, not least because something usually does blow, and indeed we are wise to escape in advance. Or, of course, we can work on change. Prolonged work toward complex, deep, systemic change. Easier, often, to eat and run. (And yes, this is where I brag about the fabulous eight days my family just spent with my brother’s family…an unprecedented and unprecedentedly good time together. I chalk it up to change of the scariest, hardest, and most rewarding kind. We rock.)
In related news, I was just asked to view Jason Clarke’s TEDxPerth talk “Embracing Change,” and it’s well worth it. Not only is he nail-on-the-head right about reasons why we don’t change and obstacles we throw up, but his models for approaching change are eminently useful. He’s got a four-part chart, for instance, that you use in a fictional home renovation to map what you’d keep, what you’d chuck, what you’d change, what you’d add. Nice, right? Imagine applying this to ourselves, our souls, our lives. In fact, this may be the new New Year’s tradition in our household, maybe in crayon on the fridge. Keep the love! Chuck the clutter! Change the post-nap entertainment from tv to reading! Add more music!
Change is hard. It FEELS hard. It makes us lonely and uncomfortable, both of which suggest that we’ve done something wrong. But sometimes that itchy feeling gives way to something better; sometimes that fear of screwing it all up needs to take a back seat to the hope that even if it’s not perfect, what comes next will be better than what is. Those of us who overthink things need extra help in remembering that, and extra cups of cocoa, perhaps, to soothe the anxiety that is a totally reasonable part of moving on.