I wrote those three words as my blog post entry on May 17, 2011. I never published it because I am sure there was more to say. I have no idea what changes I was focusing on but, in hindsight, it has been a year filled with changes and I expect that I was beginning to feel the impact. I wrote several blog posts over the last year about change, most notably my post on January 2 talking about resisting the temptation to make new year’s resolutions and be open to change when you are ready for the them – on your own calendar. I went back this week and reread many of my posts from the past two years to try to create my own mental timeline and to put myself back into the mindset I had as I wrote many of them. It was an interesting journey that allowed me to truly embrace the changes that have occurred over this time. And, it allowed me to really appreciate the differences in my life today. I marveled as I read between the lines (which the author can certainly do far better than any of the readers) and understood many of the stories I was referencing only to realize how enormous they were at the time and how small they had become.
So, let’s revisit this topic of change. According to Webster’s change means:
1. to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of something different from what it is or what it would be if left alone: to change one’s name; to change one’s opinion; to change the course of history
2. to transform or convert: the witch changed the prince into a toad
Personally, I love the second definition describing change as transforming. Transformation is a pretty powerful concept. It presumes that we are going from one thing to another. Of course, change is not always that dramatic but sometimes, over time, change does lead to a transformation.
Several years ago I attended a fantastic leadership training program – the only one I have ever had the good fortune to attend as a participant. The focus of the 2-day program was transformational leadership. I went into the program very skeptical and assuming that as an evolved, mature professional woman there was not much for me to learn in a leadership program. Well, not surprisingly, my arrogant and foolish attitude was smacked in the face when, in the first 30 minutes of the program I was already frustrated and realizing I was ill-prepared for the hard work that I needed to partake in. The matter that had me immediately stumbling was identifying two words to describe my personal brand. How could I not be able to pull that one off? That is amateur hour! Of course, I was so clueless. The important message of this story is that I went in sort of knowing I wanted to change or improve (but, if I am being completely honest, I probably did not even have the insight to know that I might have even wanted to kind of, sort of change). So, I went in having no idea whatsoever about what was about to happen to me and, as I described in the class, a piano fell on my head. After 2 days, I had changed.
Had I transformed from one state to another in a dramatic fashion? Probably not. But, something was different. As I often say, you cannot unknow what you know. And that is precisely where I was. I had learned something so powerful, so meaningful about myself that I could not operate with the same ideology so something in me had truly transformed. My lens shifted and suddenly the world looked just a little bit different.
That is a pretty magical kind of change. When we can shift our perspectives and look at ourselves and the world from a different – and hopefully, more dynamic and impactful – lens, we have truly moved our center of gravity. Of course, there is the first definition of change as well which is a bit more subtle but equally important. We can change course or change shape. For me, that is the change that we can usually monitor and focus on. The transformation is typically BIG and it takes a piano to fall on your head to recognize it. Everyday changes come to us much more easily.
So, back to May 17th. What was changing for me? Well, after resolving in January not to make any new year’s resolutions, especially the one that is always top of my list (exercise and lose weight – who’s with me here?), I had fallen into a really fun and healthy exercise and weight loss routine and was beginning to see results. I did follow my own advice to not jump right on that bandwagon on January 1 but, only accidentally, did I find my way to a healthier life. Sometimes it just happens that way and the transformation quite quietly begins.
In May, I was just beginning to see the results and I was also beginning to see myself change in how I presented myself to the world. Not particularly because I was feeling better about myself but because I had made other commitments to myself to expand my horizons, meet more people, be open to new relationships and try new things on for a change. It was scary but exciting and I was sort of like reborn in some ways. I was trying on the world with a different perspective and it looked pretty good! But as change is known to do, IT will change on you. The funny thing about going through any type of transformation, you are going to have setbacks. So, while in May I was riding the wave of feeling all the positive effects of the change, months later I got a little whiplash when it was time to do a little course correction and settle into my new state of being.
About a month ago I was talking to my husband about my weight loss and was feeling very frustrated. I had quite successfully lost about 30 lbs since February. I wasn’t following any particular weight loss regimen – I was simply exercising regularly and being very conscious about what I put in my mouth. However, I was beginning to stall out. It was extremely upsetting to me because I was unwilling to accept that the work I had put in for the past 6 or 7 months was vulnerable and could be reversed (which, of course, is foolish because it could be) and I could not bear to think that this high I had been riding for so many months would go away and I would have to return to my old life of feeling fat, out of shape and completely miserable about how I looked. My husband, very brilliantly said to me that I had plateaued. “I don’t want to plateau!” I responded to him. And, then, in one simple statement, he quelled my fears and changed my thinking completely. “Plateauing is simply setting a new normal for yourself. This, you can maintain.” I felt so calmed by those words because it was if the old me no longer existed and would never HAVE to return. I had a new normal – one that I could maintain or continue to evolve from.
Right now, I am continuing on this particular journey of weight loss and healthier living but with a new sense of confidence that I have never had. It is because I have changed. I have not yet transformed physically because I still have a long way to go but I certainly have transformed mentally. If you read my blog about my relationship with ice cream, you will understand a little bit about my troubled relationship with food. I can say, without any reservation, that has changed. That is huge and transformational for me and I promise to share more about this in an upcoming blog. It’s a big deal to me and I must remind myself EVERY.SINGLE.DAY that I have changed.
I encourage you all to refrain from any New Year’s resolutions once again this year. Instead, do a personal inventory. Look at what you might have already changed or look at the changes that are in progress and take stock. Praise yourself and commit to stay on that journey. Or, if like many of us, you have not yet been able to identify the things that need to be changed, commit yourself to taking the journey to understand yourself and be ready to begin the process of change and transformation when your mind and body tells you it is time.