Everybody would like to change. Even the people that our regarded as widely successful in our modern times still have room for improvement. Or at least training to do to maintain the effects of change.
Not a lot of people change throughout their life. Of course we all naturally evolve as we get older. Our feelings about different things may change, our opinion might evolve, our taste of music or food also doesn’t stay the same. But those are natural changes.
These changes don’t require any effort or any questioning. It is part of our natural evolution at the individual level. Moreover, this change tends to stabilise and disappear pretty quickly. We end up finding our taste of music, making our opinions on political matters, and then change disappears. We will most likely remain in our own frame of mind for our remaining days.
Why change matters
Unless you are an extremely driven person who just needs to switch his/her mind to work mode to start outputting like insanity, you’re going to have to change if you want to reach your goals in life. An outstanding percentage of people in this world need to change to drive change in their life.If you want to drive change in your life, you need to drive change in yourself. Click To Tweet
In that sense, change matters because it is the only way to get from where you are right now in life to where you want to be.
This principle of change applies to absolutely any part of anybody’s life, at any level.
If you want to show up early at work tomorrow, you have a really narrow timeframe to convince yourself to wake up earlier tomorrow, do it, and not lose the momentum while making breakfast, showering, and dressing up. You don’t want to lose the time you gained when you woke up earlier by spending twice as long in the shower.
Now, say you want to leave your job to start a different life in exactly a year from now. Here you have a much wider timeframe to generate the required change in order to reach your goal.
Longer timeframes are easier to work with because they allow for failures, adjustments, even rebirths. They are easier, but not easy.
Leaving your job to start something different is huge, right? Maybe you want to leave your job in a year because you estimate that by then, you will generate enough money from your hustle. You will be able to maintain a descent lifestyle, even if it will be less than right now. In that case, the long term change you have to do is to start working like crazy on top of your 9 to 5.
Or maybe you’ve already been working like crazy for a couple months, for a year. Then the long term remaining change will be easier to maintain, because you trained your mind for it. But it will still be a lot of commitment.
Change matters because as soon as you want something out of the ordinary in life, you will need drastic change. If you are ok with living your life without worries and not caring too much about where it will take you, it is completely fine.
What matters is your own happiness, and if that makes you happy you should keep doing it.But if have even an ounce of “maybe” in you. “Maybe I want to change my life by doing this and that”, deep inside your heart. then you should pursue that little spark. That’s all that matters, and that is change.
The types of change
Change comes in different varieties, and not all of them are good for you.
Negative change is never a good thing. It can happen following an incident in one’s life, or it can be a natural slow downwards curve. It can be rather easy to deal with, or extremely hard to overcome. It can be the premises of a major meltdown, or it can signal a negative mindset switch that needs to be cancelled. It can also be both.
Negative change does not enter the scope of this article. We are interested in an upward momentum, not a downhill ride. Negative change would require a complete different article dedicated to it.
The main reason I mention it here is because an efficient way to cancel a negative change can be to counteract it with positive change. Most of the time, this is the hardest type of change to generate, depending on how far you already are on the downwards curve.
Neutral change is the one mentioned in the introduction. This change naturally happens to any individual throughout his/her life, and doesn’t require any effort.
The intricacies of the human psychology are extremely hard to understand. Maybe neutral change alone is enough for some people to drastically change their life.
But lot of the examples that our society presents to us are not made of neutral change. That’s because neutral change is at best biased , at worst doesn’t work.
If all you had to do to get the life you wanted was to wait and rely on neutral change, it wouldn’t work, for 2 main reasons:
- Neutral change that brings what you want in life is extremely rare. It is basically like winning the lottery. So why wait for something that will most likely never happen?
- The very reason most people don’t get to where they want to be in life is because they don’t work on their goals and only change the neutral way. Why use a recipe that has been proven to fail so many times?
Positive change is the change we are interested in here. It is the one that creates upwards momentum, from any point in your life.
Positive change is the recipe to the most success in your life. It comes with the best advantages, but they’re often disguised as impediments. Failures, commitment, sacrifices…
Only the ones who are willing to work hard and in the long term will get to enjoy the sweet fruits of positive change.
Depending on where you start in life, it will require more or less work to get where you want to be. But the starting point doesn’t matter, as long as you are willing to commit and go through the ups and downs.
Positive change differs from negative and neutral change in 2 major ways.
- It doesn’t stop. Both negative change and neutral change are subject to being stopped by positive change. Positive change doesn’t have to be counteracted. It is a constant improvement, with always more room for enjoyment.
- It works. Positive change is literally the only recipe that has been proven to work consistently over the lifetime of any individual. And that is throughout the hundreds of thousands of years of humanity. It has become a big trend in the past couple of years, with life gurus and self-made entrepreneurs all screaming the same message: “get to work”. But it worked even before it was over-advertised.
Positive change is both overrated and underrated.
- Overrated, because it is so advertised and exaggerated that a lot of people won’t believe in it. They will stay in their comfort zone somehow rightfully so. Because once something is all over the internet and tells you that you can become a millionaire with a simple mindset switch, it sounds like a scam.
- Underrated, because people find excuses. They will tell you that positive change is not concrete, that it doesn’t come with clear instructions. They don’t have time, they’re not interested, they’re happy with what they have. A lot of these excuses are not and will never be true.
The intensities of change
The longer the timeline, the easier the change
Remember our waking up early example from the intro? If you want to wake up early tomorrow, the timeline to implement that change is really short. You might think it’s easier to wake up early one time than to leave your job in a year from now. And you would be right.
The intensity bias (time vs intensity)
But just because it would be harder to change your life doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. And making it worth it makes it a lot easier.
Why wake up early one time and be grumpy all day while you could change your life and not have to go to your job in the first place? Isn’t it much easier to take your time and not have to think about your job anymore one year down the line?
If this doesn’t make sense to you right now, it’s because you haven’t understood the mechanics of change yet. We are going to cover them in the next part. But first, let’s look at the 2 level of intensity when it comes to change.
If you want to leave your job in a week from now, you’re never going to do it. The timeline is way too short. On a simple practical level, things don’t add up.
- You don’t have enough money saved up yet
- You have a retainer period at your work
- You don’t know what you’re going to do next week other than crying alone at your place
- You have to move out of your place if you want to downsize, and your landlord is not available for the checkup
All those reasons are valid. You can’t change things with the snap of a finger. Change needs time, a lot of time.
One of the first reasons people fail when they try to create change in their life is because they rush into it. They try for 2 or 3 weeks, and they stop.
If you want to leave your job in a year from now, you’re a lot more likely to succeed.
- 12 months is more than enough to save money
- Leaving your apartment and your job in good terms is a lot more realistic
- You won’t be crying alone in your room because you will have had time to plan it all out, mentally as well as practically.
To summarise, you can change a lot of things in your life with 2 things
If you trust those 2 items, you can go a very, very long way. But those 2 items contain so many factors: mental, physical, social, environmental, material…
The mechanics of change
Here is the number one rule:
All the mechanics explained below are only relevant when repeated.
Repetition is what will give results.
- You can commit to building more muscle, the only way to do that is to repeatedly exercise.
- You can commit to eating more healthy, the only way to do that is to repeatedly pay attention what you eat.
- You can commit to quitting your job in a year, the only way to do that is to repeatedly change the way you behave.
Regardless of your project, there are some general truths about change.
- Developing compassion
- Training your mind to be happier in general
- Removing greed and jealousy from your life
No matter what your goal is, these realisations will help you get closer to it. And because these mental changes are an integrant part of the change in general, they will take time.
Developing these abilities goes a lot through meditation. In the beginning, you won’t feel like meditation is bringing anything to the table. You might even dismiss it as a waste of time.
But the more you do it, the more you will notice slight changes. I have been doing mediation for over a year now. I started noticing changes about myself around half a year into it. Last week, after over a year of meditation, somebody told me for the first time in my life that I come across as a rather calm individual. I have been told the exact opposite for my entire life.
Real change starts from only one place and that is the centre of yourself. Meditation also helps you keeping your commitment and staying convinced that you are doing the right thing for yourself. Because you are.
The mental change is the most important of all, because it makes you realise and accept all the other components. You can work on the others at the same time, but as long as you haven’t made the mental switch, the other ones won’t be as efficient.
To get things done and move towards your dreams, you need to change some elements of your everyday environment.
No matter what your project is, what blueprint you come up with, a clean environment always helps organising everything.
You will need to rethink your environment as whole. If you’re the messy kind, it will be challenging to find ways to keep your place clean, organised and fresh. A messy environment will get in the way of your productivity, no matter what you tell yourself. When you don’t waste time looking for things, when you feel good in the place you live in, it is a lot easier to get the motivation to move forward.
Social changeYour relationships are the heaviest component in your life. Choose them wisely. Click To Tweet
Your social environment will also need to evolve.
You need to favour people who push you up over the ones who drag you down. These are not easy to make, but they are necessary. People who inspire you, are smarter than you, have great ideas, will help you move further.
It might sound a bit radical to have such a harsh approach to social relationships. Of course your friends should stay your friends. But think of people you hang out with, and who you could definitely go without. They might be some colleagues you have drinks with after work, some friends of friends you don’t really want to see.The people who don't bring anything to your table shouldn’t be sitting at it Click To Tweet
At the end of the day, it’s about time. People who are focused on their goals and committed to moving forward simply don’t have time for small talk and drinks at the bar. You always have time for a party once in a while, but if you need to work 3 hours everyday after work, you can’t afford to go to the bar. Prioritisation is key.
All those types of changes are connected together and will create a positive synergy. It is challenging at first to deal with all of them at the same time, but they will align and work together. Again, the most important change is mental. That’s the one everything else will flow from.
Change deep within
I can never say this enough. Change at any level with any individual requires a massive mindset switch. So many people in life fail at generating true change in their life because they fail at the first step without even realizing it. They don’t truly change their mindset.
They hide behind fake gratitude, compassion, small talk and quick decisions. They never acknowledge that the start is deep inside of themselves.
The only way to drive consistent change in your life and to reach your goals is to change from the inside. If you don’t truly believe in the change you’re trying to create, it will not happen. At least not in a healthy way. Never.
Compassion, happiness, and the realisation that good things happen if you learn to master your mind. You can try to fake it, but you will crack up at some point if you do.
Here is an example. Say you don’t like your boss. That’s the case with a lot of people. You can decide to change your attitude towards him, with fake smiles and hidden resentment. At the end of the day, you go home and you still hate him. It looks like you’re making an effort at the office, but that effort is taking too much of your energy. It takes too much energy to fake liking someone and containing some repressed anger.
But if instead of trying to generate fake feelings you start putting yourself in your boss’ shoes, it will be a lot easier to develop true compassion. When you get to think about it, you don’t exactly know what your manager has to deal with.
Maybe he is trying his best, even if he comes off as an idiot sometimes. He might be wrong sometimes, but everybody is human. He pressures you sometimes, but maybe he’s getting pressured twice as much by upper management. He also has a life outside the office, with his kids, his friends. He’s probably a much different person then, just like you.
By developing true compassion, it will be a lot easier for you to change your attitude towards your boss. You won’t waste your energy on unnecessary feelings. Anger and resentment never helped anyone achieve great things in life.
The classic example of the boss applies to a lot of cases in life. You can fake it all you want, but you only start making progress when you tackle the problem at its root: your mind. Change your perception of things, then your attitude towards them.The change of perception calls for a change of attitude. The mind comes before the actions. Click To Tweet
The secret to change in your life…
…is to apply it to as many levels as possible, and always with the same technique: by starting with the mind. So many times in my life I have tried to change, only to fall back into old habits I wanted to get rid of. Every time I focused on what caused the issue in my own mind, I was able to overcome the problem, regardless of how hard it was.
Change matters because it is the only way to get from where you are right now in life to where you want to be. Positive change is the one that creates upwards momentum, from any point in your life. It is best to work on a long-term timeline to generate change, as it helps creating a slow but strong upwards momentum.
Finally, change needs to be applied to different areas of your life in order to take effect. The chain reaction starts with the mental change, from which everything else will naturally flow.
With this blueprint in mind, you can achieve great things for yourself and your loved ones.