Why is change so hard and why do so many of us take on goals and challenges only to walk away from them? On today’s episode I take a deeper dive into the process of change and what you need to know about yourself and the journey so you can continue moving closer to your potential.
Why is change so hard? Primarily, because we get in our own way but often because we don’t have a clear understanding of the process behind change. Luckily, there are countless stories throughout human history outlining the journey of change and these stories convey more than enough wisdom and information. These stories are often referred to as “The Hero’s Journey” and they go a little something like this:
An ordinary person leaves a place of familiarity (essentially the comforts of their everyday life) and ventures out into the unknown having to face danger, confront fear, and fight an enemy. Make note of that part. During their journey they transform… they change. You can see the hero’s journey depicted in stories like Star Wars, the story of Moses in the book of Exodus, or in The Hobbit. These stories appeal to us because they speak to us and about us. The storylines are archetypal which just means they’re a big fat universal truth with a capital T. But if you’re not careful you’ll read or watch something and miss the message. You’ll keep getting in your own way.
In our everyday lives the enemy we need to fight isn’t “out there” but is inside us. Maybe it’s fear or insecurity that fuels counterproductive behavior in your life. It might be an unhealthy relationship pattern, an addiction or unhealthy habit, a job you’re stuck in which you hate but think you can’t leave, a relationship you know isn’t healthy but don’t get out of because you keep lying to yourself by saying the person will change or saying how much you love them as if that’s even relevant. Conversely, the battle for you might not be something you need to remove from your life, but something you need to add or step into and keep putting off. By procrastinating you delay your growth and limit your potential.
Change requires courage, faith, and a well-formed reason of why you’re undertaking it. It can’t be some whimsical desire without first taking a good look and what’s driving you. You see this all the time with the typical new year’s resolutions centered on health goals which inevitably get put aside by week two. It’s important to know why you’re taking on a particular challenge and need to really want what you’re going after and be willing to endure the fear and discomfort while making the journey.
And, that right there is an exercise of faith. A well-formed identity shapes your value system and living out those values in turn gives rise to integrity. A strong identity answers the why question and the courage to live out your values shapes your character and integrity.
So, what dragons do you need to slay within yourself? What is keeping you from being a better version of yourself? What patterns of limiting or harmful behavior do you recognize? It takes a lot of courage and self-love to be really honest about who we are… to answer the question as best we can about what holds us back from growing into who we could be. Self-deception is surprisingly easy and confirmation bias is a sneaky little liar. But once you know what is limiting your potential you have the reason to start your own journey of change. Then you have a goal worth pursuing because the reason you’re setting out to change is because you don’t want to lose out on the opportunity of who you could become.
Change can be big or small but it’s always a transformation. You don’t have to go slay the biggest dragon or fight the strongest enemy. You can start with the smallest dragon or weakest enemy. It doesn’t matter as long as you go on the journey. That’s where the magic in life happens. You get to be the hero in your own story. The hero is always an ordinary person at first and often quite flawed. They make mistakes along the way and trip on their own feet, but they keep fumbling around until they do what they need to do and learn what they need to learn.
Remember, when we leave the comfort of our own patterns, we enter the unknown, and that’s where you’re susceptible to doubt and temptation. You’ll want to turn around. You’ll want to give up. The process of change always requires faith, and you can’t have both faith and certainty at once. One thing is certain, though. You won’t be the same if you set out on your journey. If you’ve let your new year’s resolutions fade away, maybe those weren’t the changes you were supposed to make. Or maybe you didn’t know enough about why you wanted to make them or what would be required of you to be successful. You don’t’ need January 1st to start being the hero in your own story.
Admit your flaws. Find your why. Set your goal. Start small if you have to. Muster up some courage and set the stage for change by leaving the familiar behind. Give it time and don’t turn back. So many people want a quick fix. You’re worth a more respectable amount of time and effort. You got this.