Journey

How to Embrace the Change That is Before You

READ IT TO ME: Click play to listen to this post.

Come gather ’round people

Wherever you roam

And admit that the waters

Around you have grown

And accept it that soon

You’ll be drenched to the bone

If your time to you is worth savin’

And you better start swimmin’

Or you’ll sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changin’

—Bob Dylan

Dylan’s reflection visits every day. Times are changing. Wisps of nostalgia and recollection of times past do not slow the Change Train. I just watched my home team lose in the first round to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Phoenix Suns used to beat up on the Timberwolves year after year. But, no more. I used to be able to run twice a day every day of the week without struggle. But, no more. Father Time has influenced my capacity to bounce back and keep going. I enjoyed close to 30 years working with Psychological Counseling Services in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s been three years since it all ended. The times have changed. 

And so it is for you too! What worked yesterday is not what works today. People say that raising children today is a lot different than 20 years ago. They say that the family unit is more under attack now than before. Perhaps, but it just underscores that times change. The world economy, society, and culture simply keep evolving. Nostalgia is nice but it doesn’t prepare for the present moment.  We learn by reflecting on the past but we bring forth what lessons we have gained and let go of the past. This is what it means to embrace the change that is before you. 

Nothing remains the same.

Here are some considerations regarding managing the change that is before you today:

1. With success or failure, adjust your attitude to be hungry and curious about the change that tomorrow’s challenge will bring. In his book, The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck likens the journey through life to traveling through the desert. He said many people, desperate to quench their thirst, rejoice and celebrate when arriving at the first oasis in the desert. In fact, they are so happy that they decide to build an encampment and live there for the rest of their lives. He writes most people never adjust their sites to venture through the entire desert. There is nothing immoral or wrong about choosing to become an oasis-dweller. However, the flow of life brings the need for evaluation and change. What worked yesterday is unlikely to be as effective today. Some people say well I have been doing what I do for quite some time, why make significant change now. Recovery success lulls an addict to sleep. It will do the same to you with whatever pursuits are important to you. Yesterday is a word that reflects on the historical past. In order to thrive you must be willing to adjust to tomorrow’s change. I am not suggesting immediate wholesale change but I am suggesting always tweaking the edges and challenging the center toward becoming the best version of who you are. You don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater but you will need new refreshing bathwater for tomorrow. When you have miserably failed it is not difficult to yearn for something more. When you know much past success, that is when change is difficult to embrace. Evaluate the times around you. It might be business, recovery, or your significant relationship. The passing of time is the shadow of change. If your attitude does not include a desire to embrace new pathways, you will not be hungry or curious to adapt to what is needed in your recovery or your business tomorrow.

2. Come to terms with your limits: I am aware that there is an emphasis on reaching beyond your limits. In many applications to life I agree. Another important consideration is that when you know your limits well you can pivot and focus on doing something very different which you failed at before. Some people think that “no limits” means you just beat your head against the same wall time and again. After you take medication for your headache, consider the term limit as a metaphor. When you know your shortcomings you can access the brilliance that lies deep within you. your limits are only a suggestion to do something different that can be resourced deeper within you. You can go as deep within as you choose. You are less likely to be open to creative change as long as you only focus on the limit that you think you should be able to overcome. Why not work with it and go deep? Active acceptance of what is opens your heart to the creative genius—your brilliance that is limitless within.

3. Lean into the experiences that life brings you to: If you fail in your pursuits and cannot comprehend what the results of your efforts are trying to tell you, don’t be too quick to run to the next application for the possibility of success. Even if you are cornered by great financial pressure to figure out how to get some dough right now,  take time to sit with your failure—all your feelings, your thoughts and process what brought you to this point. Be real! Sift and sort for meaningfulness in the presence of your daily experience (recovery, business, or both). Counterintuitively, leaning into your experience of struggle, emotional pain, loss, and failure will help you move forward. Allowing dust to settle helps to establish a clear pathway. Life’s purpose in time and space is revealed through your willingness to be vulnerable.

4. Trust the process of transformation. If you could just have a blueprint that shows you where you are and reminds you that on the other side of your struggle and trouble, it will all look like this! But, transformation in life does not work this way. You must know that you cannot know what is happening in the moment of your transformation. It doesn’t occur in an instant. Like the rising sun, it happens in its time!  It is impossible to see what is emerging in your life when opportunities, health, and people are taken from your life. It is hard to believe in transformation when the feeling of deprivation is in every corner of your life. Transformation brings you to a place where you cannot go back. You can no more go back and create what you hoped for than you can wear the same pair of blue jeans when you were in junior high! Those experiences have been scoured from your life.

When you do embrace the change that is real in your life, you will be given the invitation and the power to welcome the experience of something new that will transform the limits that you thought were insurmountable in your past endeavors. It is from the place of embracing change that the transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau was inspired to write “I have learned this at least by my experience: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours”.

Embrace the change that is before you and experience the transformation that is to be a part of your destiny.