Don’t we all want to change the world? At least in some form or fashion.
Everybody I know wants to change at least something about this world we live in, if not a lot of somethings.
I often joke that if I ran the world it would be a far better place. I am laughing, but part of me believes it.
And most folks I know believe that too.
Lord knows, the world needs fixing!
In the idealism of youth, we actually believe we can do this. As in achieve it. But it doesn’t take too many steps on this path of life before we see that, well, the world is a lot bigger than we are.
And while you truly can fight city hall, most of the change we can effect isn’t outside us.
All change for the better begins within.
So if I want to change my life, how do I begin?
- Figure out what you want to change. I know, this seems like a no-brainer, right? But so often when I talk with young women, they tell me they want their lives to be better. Which is great! But the specifics then come quite vaguely.
- Make a list. Brainstorm. Write down every single thing that comes into your head.
- Prioritize that list. Yep, not very sexy. I mean, you’re wanting to save the whatever! Not sit here making lists. But focusing on the top 5 things you want to improve is crucial to how to change your life.
- Take the first one and make a plan. From beginning to end. Whether it’s “getting in shape,” (you can start out in the vagaries, but getting to specifics is where the key lives) or learning Spanish, delineate the action steps to get you there.
- Break these down into manageable steps. The surest way to give up on a goal is to make the steps involved too large or broad and not reach them. Reaching the first wrung on your ladder causes you to feel empowered, which then spurs you on to tackle the second one.
- See where the holes in your knowledge, skill set, guidance are. And there are always lots of holes. Because you obviously don’t know what you don’t know, or you’d already have mastered the change.
- Get help. Whether it’s an online course, finding a mentor, talking to someone who has already achieved what you’re shooting for, help is out there.
- Commit to the goal. I know, another no-brainer, right? And wouldn’t you think this one would’ve come earlier in the process?
The difference in commitment and desire, however, is huge. You wouldn’t commit to a marriage with a person you didn’t know, would you? The point being you need to know what you’re up against before going all-in. And there is no shame whatsoever in wanting to achieve something, dissecting what it takes to get there, weighing the pros and cons, and then deciding to pursue a different goal. That’s called maturity.
- Once you do commit, once this is truly yours to do, inspiration surges. Make sure you feel that. If not, reexamine step 8. Make sure you’re not a wee bit shy of your truth. Inspiration is a great litmus test for if this thing is truly yours to do. As Patanjali, the compiler of the Yoga Sutras, famously said:
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
- Pat yourself on the back. Yeah, you. You’re on a noble quest! Acknowledge yourself for being on your path. That will cause energy to surge some more. Energy that you can surely use!
- Don’t hesitate to change directions. This isn’t about forsaking your goal at all, but rather, being flexible enough to turn a different way. Unforeseen circumstances will surely arrive, and by being able to change the plan when called for, you’ll find a better way to the goal.
Because those dormant forces will be showing you another way. Listen. Watch. Revise. The only shot in life is the next one.
As Zig Ziglar said, “When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal, you do not change your decision to get there.”
- Realize that “failure” is just another way to not succeed. It’s easy to get derailed or demoralized when you fall. But it isn’t the failure itself that stops most people, but the emotional valance we give it. Are you really not good enough? Or do you just need to practice more? Did you fail because you’ll never get there? Or because you didn’t know how to do the thing that felled you?
Because no one masters anything without doing some falling on the butt. So expect and accept that that’s going to happen. Then get up off the mat, see what you need to work on, and proceed again.
- Know that a lot of the road will just be filled with slog. We expect highs and lows, but most folks forget that so much of the battle is just waged in the trenches. And those get muddy and boggy and long and slow, without much excitement. It’s easy to question here. “Nothing’s happening!”
Or is it? Mastering difficult steps can often just be a process of doing them—over and over and over.
- Plan out rewards along the way. We need them. They inspire us, and we know all the fabulous things that come with inspiration 🙂 Stopping to celebrate how far you’ve come pays huge dividends. And besides, you’re worth it.
- Complain. We hear so often, “Winners don’t complain!” And while as a way of living that’s pretty true, everyone has down times. And if you stuff it, you’re not being honest with yourself. Horrors! Because we know what self-deception brings.
So, get it out. Vent. But set a time limit for this. Take an hour (or a few) and wallow in the misery of it all (doesn’t even the thought of that bring a chuckle? But the harder you wallow, the ludicrousness of giving your power to perceived problems becomes quite apparent!). Then get back on your path to success.
- Reevaluate where you are. Often. What usually surprises people here is not how much they’ve failed, but how far they have come. Wow—I learned that! I accomplished this. I’ve come a pretty good ways toward my goal.
Maybe here you need another celebration
- Walk your spiritual path in conjunction with the one toward your goal. This one is pervasive, and covers your entire road to success.
Whatever path you walk spiritually upon, be sure to stay with it. This feeds your soul, which is of course the source of strength you’re drawing from. Nothing un-grounds me quicker than being “too busy” to follow my spiritual path. And nothing puts everything back into perspective like the peace that comes with doing so.
As Author Alice Walker says, “Teach yourself peace. Pass it on.”
Which comes to the crux of all of this. If I could change the world, I know I have to change myself first. We are the change that we become.
So change yourself. And then go make the world a better place.