They say it takes 21 days to break a bad habit. (And yes, I'm still working on #15)
But how many days does it take to change a human being??
I just got back from a two day work conference in Atlanta. The Day One topic was change management, a term which has always amused me because essentially, it's how to manage people's insecurities about change. "Change management" seems to be the new catch phrase. Back when I was in college, working on my Certificate in Leadership and Social Change, the catch phrase was "Change Agent." I wonder what it'll be next..."changeology?" "Change catalyst?" "Change-a-saurus Rex?"
Enough with the kitschy catch phrases.
Truthfully, change has been on my mind. We are, after all, getting into the heart of fall---a season that is defined by change. We can SEE and FEEL the change. The leaves are changing and the air is crisper. For kids in school this is the season when Kindergartners change into first graders. Middle schoolers change into junior high students, and eleventh graders become high school seniors. Flip flops and t-shirts get packed up to make room for sweaters and boots.
And the biggest one for me....my darling baby girl turns a year older! I mean, seriously, can we take a moment to acknowledge that CHANGE that's occurred just in the past couple of years????
To this: (Obviously she's always been serious about Ravens' football....)
Talk about a change!
Over the past two days I heard one of the presenters define change as, "the process by which something or someone is different than it was." I loved the simplicity in that definition so much I had to jot it down...and as I wrote those words, I thought about change. Probably not in the context our presenter was hoping I'd think about it, but in the context of ME.
I've learned that I sorta love change.
Which is why when I hear all of these strategies about "how to make people comfortable with change," it takes me a moment to get it. Because my initial reaction is, "but what's the big deal with change, anyway? What's there to be afraid of?" Change is exciting! It means something new is coming around the corner! It means something or someone has evolved to become different than they were before! Change keeps me interested. Change keeps me invested. Change keeps me from getting bored.
The crazy thing is, if we all take a moment to think about it, I'm sure we can all pinpoint moments in our lives when we changed. Things that happened to us--whether positive or negative---that made us different than we were before. The more I thought about this over the past couple of days, the more I realized that it's most likely these experiences that help determine how we feel about change.
I've been lucky that for the most part, my life experiences with change have been positive.
A few concrete examples...
When I started high school at IND I only knew one girl in my freshman class, my friend Mary with whom I had gone to grade school. And while this was slightly intimidating, it was also exhilarating. I remember thinking that at IND I could completely reinvent myself...my social slate was wiped clean, and it was completely up to me how I wanted to be known. I started grade school shy and quiet...and even though somewhere in junior high I was no longer shy nor quiet, I couldn't seem to shake the stigma because for nine years I was within my little bubble of friends. I remember starting high school and within a week there was a new found confidence...I introduced myself to strangers with no problem. Something within me changed.
When I was my early twenties I made the difficult and necessary decision to end a relationship with my high school sweetheart whom I had been with for almost 6 years. Before the decision was final, I remember feeling stagnant and depressed...something no one should feel at only 22 years old. But I was also scared that I was giving up the future we had so carefully planned for ourselves. I almost didn't know how to function without being one half of the duo we had created. But surprisingly, after it happened, I felt relieved and calm. Although my carefully laid out future quickly became one giant question mark, I was excited. Finally, I was the captain of my own ship, and creator of my own destiny. Instead of thinking, "I am alone" I thought, "I can do whatever I want in this life, without having to worry about how it affects someone else." Something within me changed.
Rewind to just a few years ago. It was early March 2007, and a friend of mine was in town with a few of his Coast Guard buddies. We all went out for a fun night of bar hopping. There was partying, there were tequila shots, and I specifically a remember a Fergalicious dance-off. Truth be told, this night was not unlike many of the other weekend nights that made up my "fun early twenties." So why do I remember it such vivid detail? Because 5 days later I took a pregnancy test that showed up positive. And from that point, EVERYTHING changed. I think of that night as the last of my truly carefree days. Sure, I've gone out since then, and yes, I absolutely have had fun--but not in the way I could pre-Sadira. Now there is a little person who is always in the back of my mind. Now I'm someone's mother, and I look at the world through a new filter. Something major within me changed.
Now I find myself in the present...on the brink of yet another change. When I first started this project 114 days ago I thought of all of the things I'd like do---goals I'd like to accomplish and things I've always wanted to do. I always thought that somewhere along the way this project would take on a life of its own--which is probably why I chose to blog about it, so I would have that moment well documented. So here I find myself, 8 months away from a new decade, and the purpose of this project has revealed itself to me. It's not about crossing items off a list...it's about experiencing life NOW. Without fear of failure. About stepping outside of secure confines of my comfort zone and trying something new. It's about doing something I've always wanted to do, but never had the time or "an excuse" to do it.
Life does not require excuses. Life is something worth making time for.
A few years back my Mom gave me a paper weight with the following phrase etched into it: "What would you do, if you knew you could not fail?" She gave it to me with the message that she hoped I'd always live my life without fear of failure. I'll admit that for many, including myself, this is really hard to do. With the benefit of a few life experiences, and just a tiny shred of wisdom under my belt, I feel like I'm finally getting to point where I'm starting to live life fearlessly.
This project gave me a reason to do some of the things that I've always wanted to do, or accomplish--but the truth is, I never really even needed the reason to begin with. I've noticed the latest change in myself--that when opportunities come up to seize the day and experience something new I quickly raise my hand and say, "yes, please!" instead of, "gosh, I'd love to, but I just don't have the time for that, unfortunately."
Carpe effin' diem.
Sailing lessons? Yes! Sounds fun, let's do it! Try a Bikram Yoga class? I might not make it through, but I'm willing to give it a shot! Sign up for a 5k? I've survived a few before, it's time to try one again!
Take out the fear of failure and life is full of possibilities. I'm learning to be fearless to opportunity. And THAT experience has most certainly changed me.
And I ask YOU.....What would you do, if you knew you could not fail?