Change before you have to. (Jack Welch)
Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. (Leo Tolstoy)
Try again. Fail again. Fail better. (Samuel Beckett)
The Brain runs on Fun! (Jeroen Kratsborn)
Het is nu december 2011. Twee blogposts geleden heb ik een grote verandering aangekondigd: de thee en koffie webshop komt eraan!
Maar ik ben natuurlijk ook maar een mens. Bij Bart Smit zag ik de nieuwe film van de Smurven in de etalage liggen en ik dacht: HUH?! Die hebben we pas nog met ons zoontje in de bioscoop gezien. Maar dat was begin augustus. Het voelt echter als gisteren omdat ik sinds het einde van de zomervakantie in een flow zit met PAM Internet Marketing en PAM Business Trainingen en maar sporadisch vrijgenomen heb. Nu, in december is het tijd voor iets meer ontspanning, kortere werkdagen en een herziene focus om de slaagkansen van de webshop zo groot mogelijk te maken.
Het is ook een mooie tijd om meer te filosoferen en zodoende wil ik je onderstaand interessant artikel (in het Engels) over angst, verandering en salsa smurven presenteren. Enjoy!
Update 16-12-2011. We zitten opnieuw in een recessie. Wanneer gaan we nu eens eindelijk veranderen met z’n allen? En wat moeten we dan gaan veranderen? Zie de interessante discussie hierover in de LinkedIn Groepen ‘Zuid-Limburg Networking’ en/of ‘Lifehacking voor Ondernemers’.
There are two kinds of fear: good fear and bad fear.
Good fear is when the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. The kind of fear that tells you to cross the street for “some strange reason.” The kind of fear that gives you superhuman strength in dealing with sudden danger. The kind of fear that immediately threatens your physical survival and that prepares you for dealing in the short term.
That’s the good kind. It’s rooted in our animal instinct of pure and absolute protection of ourself and our clan. Good fear that we only want to experience a few times in life if possible.
Then there’s bad fear. The fear that creates the same kind of physical sensation you get from good fear: increased heart rate. Blood flow to the extremities. Rapid short breath. Bad fear is rooted in all the “What if blahblahblah happens?” What if? What if? What if? Bad fear keeps us on the treadmill of mediocrity. Bad fear keeps blood out of the brain, where we need it the most in order to make effective decisions.
Why do we get bad fear and how do we deal with it?
We get bad fear because we want it. Fear in the short term can be good. Fear in the big picture and in the long term is not good. It wears us down. It’s chemically addictive. It prevents us from using our brain. And most importantly, we create bad fear because it keeps us right where we are. Hobbling us, bad fear chains us to the world we know. Bad fear saps us of life, slowly. It must be destroyed.
Why and how does it do this? Bad fear keeps us from changing. We don’t want change because change is scary. Yep. Change is scary, and so we’d prefer to keep things stagnant, not change, and staying fearful is a great way to stay put. But here’s the funny part: Everything will change! And it’s the clinging to “the way things are” that actually causes the most pain and suffering, within us and around us.
OK – so what to do? Embrace change and kill bad fear.
We cling to that safe harbor of the “known” because the unknown wide ocean is just so darn unknown, so knee-wobbly scary. But consider this, what if the early explorers always kept to the same known safe harbors. Who would have finally ventured out, way out, into the wild blue ocean to seek and journey? For what? For the unknown. For change. It takes courage to venture to the unknown territories of ourselves and the world around us. To venture to the unknown. Here’s how to do it:
1. Harness Energy
A car with no gas goes nowhere. Without energy we go nowhere. Seems obvious and yet so few really focus on how to create and harness our internal energy. Our energy comes from what we put in our bodies (mostly vegetables, organic, and no processed foods), how much we recharge (sleep 8 hours a night), and how well we take care of our machinery (exercise – something, anything, just use the body). Our energy is our most important asset. No energy no change, just a lot of fear and loathing and stagnancy. Start with the energy or you’ll go nowhere.
Tip van Jeroen: klik eens op het artikel Emotionele energie = 70% van je totale energie.
2. Practice Awareness
With a full tank of energy we can begin. To see. To hear. To become aware of the situation at hand. Just labeling the actual fear disassociates it from us and allows the first step in moving forward, relaxing, and changing to a “towards, positive” state of being. There’s a quote I like, “If you know what you’re doing, then you can do what you want” (Moshe Feldenkrais).It’s true.
Learn to practice being aware and things get clearer and easier to deal with. Learn to practice awareness. Rituals (like tea!) certainly help by serving as awareness training grounds. Just noticing things, feelings, sensations, surroundings, helps prevent getting overwhelmed by them. Feeling fearful? Notice the feeling, and label it “fear.” Notice what happens. Does it get more or less consuming?
Tip van Jeroen: Om meer bewustzijn te creëren kun je aan meditatie doen; lees boeken als ‘the power of now’ van Eckart Tolle en ‘whereever you go, there you are’ van John Kabat-Zinn.
While awareness let’s us “see” and identify what’s happening, focus let’s us harness our energy to do something about it. The key with focus is that it requires banishing distraction. First becoming aware of it, then banishing it. But distraction feels good. It’s addictive. It releases dopamine, a chemical in our body that is released when we see something new (it’s meant to protect us by drawing our attention to a new threat). Similar to cocaine actually in the feel good effects. And yet getting distracted hurts awareness. And if we’re not aware then we stay stuck, in that sticky safety of the known. Focus is connected to awareness because we need to be aware of that pull of distraction. But, we need the energy and strength to say “no” to it, to remain on task, to stay focused. Good ample energy, gives us willpower, to stay focused.
Tip van Jeroen: Sociale Media zijn een fenomeen wat positief gebruikt kan worden. Ik geef advies aan bedrijven hoe ze Sociale Media zakelijk kunnen inzetten. Echter, nu, in de wintertijd waarin de meeste mensen (dus ik ook) een lager energie niveau hebben en toevallig de tijd dat ik met iets nieuws begin, is het verstandiger om er minder tijd in te investeren als gebruiker. Dus, sorry als in niet reageer op LinkedIn Messages en Discussies. Je kunt me wel altijd bereiken via de email: info at parkstad-aachen.com.
And then things change. We see what’s going on. And then attack it with our focus. Raw clay goes from a blob of earth to a functional teacup. It changes. An idea goes from an electrical impulse in the brain to a business plan. A bad habit goes from compulsion to freedom. We venture into the wide open ocean with no land in sight. And we’re ok with it.
En nog een interessant artikel over verandering, geschreven door Leo Babauta:
‘Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transience, we suffer.’ ~Shunryu Suzuki
Change can be a difficult thing. Most people want to change their lives, in some way, but find it difficult to either get started or to sustain the change for very long.
I’m happy to report that after years of studying it, I’ve become fairly good at it (though happily failing all the time). I actually relish change, not because I feel I need to improve my life, but because in change, I learn new things. Constantly.
What have I learned from my changes? I could write a book on this (and probably will someday), but the essence can be found in the space between the inevitable fact of change, and in the incredible resistance to change inside ourselves and in the people around us. We want to change, and yet we don’t. How do we resolve this tension?
It can be incredibly difficult, or it can be wonderfully joyous. I’m here to show you the elements of the joyous path to change. The difficult path … I think we can each easily find that on our own.
My Recent Changes
I’ve made dozens of changes over the last few years (read My Story for a partial list), but here’s a short list of a few I’ve made just this year:
- Lost over 40 lbs since last year. I’ve not cared as much about losing weight — it’s just a number — but more about losing some fat and getting fit. The weight loss has really been a side effect of that focus. I’ve tried a lot of different methods, but I’ve found that only two things matter, and they’re ridiculously obvious: cut back on calories and increase the calories you burn through activity. Finding ways to do those two things has been the fun part.
- Gave up our car and walk, bike or use public transit everywhere. I’ve slowly been reducing how much I use a car, and increasing biking and walking. Then we drastically made the change just a few weeks ago when we sold our van, moved to San Francisco, and have been car-free ever since.
- Began walking more. Obviously this goes with being car-free, but even when we had our van I would walk for an hour or three on many days, just for the simple pleasure of it.
- Eat foods with no or little packaging. From bulk bins or farmer’s market, with reusable containers, if possible. I strive for fresh fruits and a variety of veggies, plus beans and nuts and whole grains and seeds. None of this needs packaging, all of it is great for you.
- Gave up almost all of my possessions. I was slowly whittling away at my possessions, then took a huge leap when we sold or gave away almost everything and moved to San Francisco. We’ve bought some furniture (mostly used) but haven’t come anywhere near the (modest) amount of possessions we had before.
- Started working less. A task needs to meet a high threshold of importance for me to consider doing it these days. This means I work fewer hours but am more effective during those hours.
- Drastically reduced the time I spend online. I love online reading, and connecting with others, but it can really eat up your life if you let it.
- Focused more on being in the moment.
- Stopped setting goals and planning so much. I used to be a rigid planner and goal setter, just a couple years ago. You can see it in my old posts here on Zen Habits. I’ve dropped that habit, mostly.
- Instead, embraced going with the flow.
Again, this is a short list — there are others that are less noteworthy, and probably a few I’m forgetting.
The Elements of Change
So what’s the joyous path to making these changes and others? I’ve broken it down into six elements, many of which overlap and have very blurred lines. They’re useful, though, in considering how to make potential changes in your life.
1. Beating inertia. We all have inertia — that resistance to change, especially major change that disrupts our living patterns or way of thinking. Sometimes it’s not difficult to overcome — we can get excited to make a big change and want to overhaul a certain part of our lives. The joyous path, though, is in the middle ground between no change and drastic change. It’s in small changes — as small as possible. Small changes mean it’s not hard to get started, but also that the change is sustainable. If you make a drastic change, there is a great likelihood that it won’t stick very long.
If you’re feeling that inertia, set out to make as tiny a change as you can — just get out and walk for 5 minutes, or start writing or painting or playing your violin for 5 minutes. You can do anything for 5 minutes — it should seem ridiculously easy, but that’s the point.
2. Beating the resistance of others. This resistance can be even tougher to beat than your own inertia — very often people in our lives do not want change. They’ll be negative, or even actively try to stop us from changing. There are various strategies for beating this: ask for their help and get them on your side, or negotiate a way for you to make change without disrupting their lives too much, or if necessary, cut them out of your life for a little bit. Read more.
3. Finding the joy. Here is the key to it all. Forget the rest of these steps if you need to, but never forget this one. Doing something you hate is possible, for a little while, but you’ll never sustain it. If you hate running, you’ll never keep up the habit for long. You need to find the joy in doing the activity, and when you do, you’re golden. So either choose an activity that you love, or find something to love in the activity, and grab on to that.
Tip van Jeroen: Persoonlijk vind ik het erg plezierig om met een Salsa Muziekje te werken, zeker in de middag als ik mijn belangrijkste taken al heb afgerond. Zo kunnen zelfs onplezierige werkjes nog leuk worden! Dan voel ik me net zo blij als de ‘Salsa Smurf’ (zie afbeeldingen bovenaan dit artikel). The Brain runs on FUN!
Als ik echter diep geconcentreerd wil werken, geef ik de voorkeur aan Barok Muziek om in de Alfa Staat te komen.
4. Keeping the joy alive. Joy can be fleeting, and to keep it going, you need to nurture it. This is an art form, and I can’t give you step-by-step instructions here. If I could, I’d be a billionaire, as it would change the world. But some advice: be grateful for your joy, every day. Be in the moment with that activity, instead of having your mind drift elsewhere. Refresh your joy often, by starting over or approaching things from a new angle or doing something a bit differently. Find new people to share this joy with, people who love it as much as you.
5. Celebrating the little victories. We often get discouraged because we’re not as far along as we’d like: we don’t have those six-pack abs yet (after a month of exercise!) or we’re not a full-time blogger yet (after three months of blogging!). But we forget how far we’ve come. Every step along the path is a victory, not because we’ve accomplished a goal but simply because we made the step. Celebrate those steps — jump up and down in joy, scream Halelujah, brag about it on Facebook, post a victorious message in bold marker on your fridge. You rock.
6. Making it a part of your life. Whether a change stays with you forever or not, making a change has value, in the momentary joy you get from doing it, and in what you learn from it. But making a change stick can be a great thing. To integrate change into your life, it must become a part of your daily routine. If you want to meditate, you need to do it at a regular time: right after having your coffee and before showering for work, for example. Having the coffee becomes your trigger for this new habit, and as the coffee is already integrated into your life, it becomes an anchor upon which this new habit will be grounded. The more times you do the new habit after this trigger, and the more regularly you do it, the more firmly it will stick.
One last note, to anyone making changes: you will fail. I don’t say that to discourage you, but to release you from the fear of failure … because if you already know it will happen, then there’s no pressure to avoid it. Failure is an inevitable part of change, and in fact it should be celebrated — without failure, we’d learn nothing. Fail, fail often, and learn. Then you’ll be better equipped for the next attempt. Find joy in every attempt, in every victory, in every failure, and the change will be a reward in itself.
Gebruikte Bronnen: Zenhabits.net en Samovar.com
* Volg me, net als ruim 2100 andere slimme mensen, via TWITTER
* FIT en VITAAL de winter doorkomen? Doe dan aan ‘BodyHacking’ en meld je aan voor onze LinkedIn Groep (al ruim 60 leden).