Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.Martin Luther King Jr.
John is 26 years old. He has never held a job for more than a few months. His dream job is to be a Heavy Truck driver and he has already obtained a class 4 drivers license. Despite the advice of his mother, he insists on maintaining a Rasta hairstyle which is untidily kept. He does not shave and never appears well groomed. Though academically capable he chose not to pursue any academic studies beyond secondary school.
Apart from his mother who raised him as a single parent, John has no extended family or positive friends or role models for support and thus finds himself feeling isolated and alone. Smoking and drinking which was at first experimental in his teenage years has become a way of life and a coping mechanism. Without a steady and consistent income, he finds himself in a continuous and odious battle for survival. Despite his mother’s best efforts he blames her and his absent father for his predicament and tells anyone who would listen that nobody cares about him, nobody helps him or ‘have his back’ and he has had a hard life and have to struggle all the time.
John is tired of the way life is for him and wants things to change. However, for things to change for John, he first has to change. John’s life is not magically going to fall into place. He has to take personal responsibility, begin working on himself and only then would he see the change he desires in his life. Henry David Thoreau, said it best when he said, “Things do not change; we change.” As you read this I am sure that a number of things which John can do to improve his situation, flooded your mind.
What are the things you want to change in your own life? What are the situations that you are faced with for which you are longing for change? What situations in your life do you find yourself complaining about or blaming others for?
The change we seek in our lives is not inevitable, it comes only through consistent and persistent work. It is my firm conviction that any situation in our lives can be changed if we want is badly enough and we are willing to do the work. I don’t dare suggest it will be easy, because it will not be! But because it is not easy does not mean that it is impossible.
Having graduated secondary school with just 2 O’level subjects and then pregnant at age 18, I had many years of struggle. I did go through a phase in my twenties where I blamed my parents for all the things I felt they had done wrong in my life and I felt that they were responsible for my struggles. I soon decided that in spite of whatever poor decisions they made that I felt may have negatively impacted me, I now had to take personal responsibility. I was now responsible for the path my life would take. No one else was responsible but me, and if I wanted to see progress in my life I had to continue to do the necessary work.
That meant for me, years of working in the day and going to school at nights, endless sleepless nights, nights when tears would come to my eyes because I am tired after a long day of work and school and I could not get a taxi to go home because it is late and most taxi drivers had already gone home for the night, but just in time a random taxi would show up. Years of having to sacrifice and watch every dollar, not being able to spend anything extra. Years of sometimes not being able to make ends meet.
You Have the Power!
Whatever your situation you are not powerless! You can take action and you can do all things through God who gives you strength. You do not have to succumb to life’s challenges. You do not have to succumb to defeating behaviors. You can change, and by extension change your situation. As you begin to do the work necessary, God will place people on your path to encourage you and help you along your journey. Doors will gradually begin to open up for you. I have experienced this first hand. Ralph Emerson puts it elegantly when he says, “once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
You can change any situation or behavior in your life. Tony Robbins, author of Awaken the Giant Within, suggests that we must link immediate sensations of pain to old behavior and immediate sensations of pleasure to new behavior. He further suggests that you ask yourself, “what is the price of not changing? What will I miss out on in my life…? what is it already costing me mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually?… Make the pain of not changing feel so real that you cannot put off taking action any longer… If I do change, how would that make me feel about myself…what other things could I accomplish if I really made this change?”
Wrapping it Up
Be it a habit, a behavior or a situation, here are some helpful steps for achieving change in your life.
Take personal responsibility, this means you do not blame others for your situation or behavior, nor do you complain. You hold only yourself responsible. You hold yourself responsible for the change you want to see and you examine your behavior or situation objectively and rationally.
Decide on a course of action. Research and write down the steps you need to take to bring about the change you need. Draw up a plan and a timeline by which your wish to accomplish each step. For example, if you need to live a healthier lifestyle, decide on the steps you need to take in order to do so.
Be persistent. The journey will be difficult and long; you will encounter many challenges along the way but you must not give up. Keep pressing forward at all costs, act as if your life depends on it. If you fail and you may, do not dwell on your failure or give up, reevaluate the situation make adjustments if necessary, forgive yourself and begin again.
Be consistent, you will not experience change if you are not consistent. You can’t perform the action occasionally, or just when you feel like it. You must do it frequently; you must develop a rhythm.
If possible, engage friends or family who will encourage you and support you when the going gets tough, and who will also hold you accountable.
Create an alternative behavior to replace the old behavior. For example, you may want to cut back on how much time you spend watching television, replace watching 2 hours of television, with 2 hours of reading.
For lasting change practice reinforcing your desired behavior. The law of reinforcement states that behavior that is followed by reinforcement is likely to be repeated, while behavior that is followed by punishment is likely to not be repeated. Your reinforcement may be to give yourself a pat on the back, congratulate yourself, enjoy your favorite treat, anything you like. The possibilities are endless based on your personality, likes and dislikes and the change you are trying to make.
It’s a wrap! Thank you for taking time to read this article, I trust you found it helpful.
You got this! You can do it! You have the power and you can, be the change you want to see!😊