Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Change You Want In Your Life?

As a blogger you are at times more open with your thoughts and feelings online than you might be in person, even with your closest friends and family. Despite knowing that thousands of people read this blog every day, I find it easier and I’m much more succinct, when I share my thoughts and ideas here, at least when it comes to certain subjects.

One of the wonderful, if surprising at first, experiences as a result of being open with people through a blog is that eventually you gain some kind of notoriety for being good at something.

Eventually my perception online became that of an “authority” in my niche, at least to a small sub-segment of the population. I became a “someone” rather than an audience, in one little corner of the universe, in this case as a blogger who talks about entrepreneurship, marketing, and personal development.

This is a great event for all kinds of reasons, but the most important reason, and be sure to underline this, is that with authority, more people actually read what I write. With the attention that authority gives me, I enjoy the privilege and honor of being able to influence people. This is power and it’s something you have to be very careful with as power is trust, and you don’t want to abuse people’s trust.

What’s a little strange for me is that I’ve not really done anything to earn my position other than tell you what I think and do. I haven’t been officially trained to do this in any way, I didn’t go to school to learn to blog (I started one instead), nor was I instructed along the way about the right way to do things. In reality I’m pretty much exactly the same as you are right now, except I’ve spent the last five years sharing aspects of my life through this blog over and over again, week after week.
The Challenge That Is Changing Yourself

One of the most interesting subjects, one that I’d like to tackle with you now, is the concept of whether it is really possible to change, especially in a proactive, self-determined manner. This isn’t about fate or destiny, this is going after and getting what you want.

When I say change, I mean real change. I mean the kind of change that takes you from where you are now, to where you really want to be, although using a phrase that relates transition to a destination or a time isn’t quite complete. What I’m really talking about when I say “be” is the state you are in. It’s the change of state, the way you think and consequently act and thus experience, that I refer to when I mean change.

This is the kind of change where you feel like you’re not the same person you were before, and everything around you has changed as a result of this. You might be living in a different place, associating with different people, you might have a different lover, or several, you might be financially wealthier, or maybe you’ve lost or gained weight, or you no longer do something you wanted to stop, like drinking, or smoking.

All these things are symptomatic of change, to say they are the change isn’t quite accurate. It was something about you on the inside that changed, that caused a physical change to manifest in reality. It was YOU who changed.

When you experience this kind of change you know it, because when you realize the change you stop yourself and go “wow, I’m actually feeling what my previous self wanted to feel back then“. I’m living what I previously wanted to live. I am what my past self wanted to be in the future, if we include the element of time. I am now where I wanted to be back when I was somewhere else, if we include the element of location.

It’s this idea of change, and it’s change for the better that we want, or at least what we perceive as desirably better today (it may not actually turn out to be so, but we assume it is for now since we don’t know yet), that intrigues me. The idea that you are in charge of your own “personal development” is powerful. Imagine being in charge of claiming what you want in your life?

Yeah, it sounds good doesn’t it, but let’s state a truth – change is hard.

Significant change takes effort, and often so much effort that by the time we get what we wanted or arrive where we wanted to be, our value system has changed too, so you may not even want what you were working so hard to acquire. That I believe is a clever built-in motivation tool nature has given us so that we’re always striving for more. If we got everything we wanted instantly and easily then the value wouldn’t be there and we’d stop striving to make ourselves better.

Consequently, the lessons we eventually take away from any dramatic change in our lives are these, which many people come to understand as universal principles if they live long enough…

* We should live in the moment,
* enjoy the journey,
* understand that what we want isn’t what we really want and,
* that we will always want more until we decide we don’t.

Tricky isn’t it.
Is Change Even Possible?

I remember as a child listening to my mother on the rare occasion she hosted a party at her house. My mother is not the most social person and while she loves sharing ideas with other people, she’s closer to hermit than socialite. That doesn’t stop her from talking her mouth off when she’s had a glass of wine and the people around her are saying things she feels a need to respond to (nowadays she doesn’t need any alcohol to get her started!).

One of her favorite subjects as I recall, is whether change is even possible in the first place. She steadfastly believes people can change on a fundamental level, and we are talking about the tiniest of individual personality details, all the way up to global consciousness. Some people didn’t agree with her, they argued that no one could truly change, which is why as humans we will always have the problems we have, in some shape or form.

I remember listening to her passionately explaining her viewpoint on this subject, although from my recollection as my mother’s son, I felt more uncomfortable that here was my usually soft-spoken mother becoming more animated than usual, resulting in me wanting to be somewhere else (parents are, like, so embarrassing!). I generally preferred to find a way to be in another place when adults where drinking and talking loudly, but no doubt my mother’s viewpoint on change has impacted my own perception of whether change is possible, so credit where credit is due.
I Haven’t Quite Mastered This One…

As I stated at the start of this article, sometimes as a blogger you have to get personal. It’s one of the most powerful tools we have to engage our audience. However, in the case of this subject, I have to admit I don’t feel quite as comfortable as I’d like to when talking about my own perception of how to change.

Normally, as the authority, it’s smart for me to assume a tone in my blog posts that I know what I’m talking about, and to a certain degree with many subjects that relate to marketing, I do, at least comparing my own skill level and knowledge with my audience’s. I know just enough more than my readers so that I can provide value.

Marketing in so many ways is a science. Talking about how to make money, or relating a story of how you did something to get a result is simple enough. The concepts we are dealing with there are straight forward, like pieces of a puzzle you just have to arrange in the right order.

Concepts like change are much more fluid and complex. Most personal development subjects are that way because we’re dealing with some of the fundamentals of life. As a result, I’m best teaching by revealing the aspects of my own journey, even though I may not have figured it all out. Writing an article like this isn’t just for you, it also helps me, as I come to a greater realization of my own place by sharing with you. As they say, the best way to learn is to teach.

Here, discussing how you can go about changing your life for the better, I feel the need to make note of where I’m personally at with the topic because, well, I’m not quite there yet. At least I’m not where I want to be, so there is still more change to make.

I expect this is likely the state I will remain in for most of my life because as far as I can tell, no human ever masters change or remains content with how things are permanently, unless they are enlightened or dead. I don’t exist in a perpetual state of enlightenment (nor am I convinced that’s what life is all about if you consider the practical world, not just the spiritual world, although they can overlap if you become self aware enough), so I can only imagine what it is like.

For the sake of making this applicable to you, I’m going to assume you still have a strong desire to make changes in your life too and you’re not quite enlightened yet either. At least we’re coming from the same place :-) .

This is part of the reason why this subject is so compelling. Being comfortable that life IS change is one thing, and I’m all for going with the flow, but taking a proactive interest in determining what changes in your life is a different story. You want to be the driver in your life, even if you can never be sure where the road is taking you or what you will pass through on the way.

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