Thursday, March 25, 2010

Life Change

I'm really enjoying walking to and from work nowadays. There are many reasons for this including the most significant reason. It provides me with 30 minutes (x2 daily) to just think and not do. That one hour a day split in two segments is among my most creative (maybe I should find a longer route?). On Wednesday afternoon, on the way home, I was thinking about life changes and how difficult they are to achieve. I'm talking about things like going back to school after working for years, changing marital status, starting to have kids, and changing jobs or even careers.

I used to think that life change typically happened for one of two reasons: a significant external event (like getting fired or waking up pregnant) or being somehow unhappy with a situation. The first reason is probably a good case for life change but it is out of your control. The latter case, dissatisfaction, seems like a perfectly reasonable reason to act. But my experience is that dissatisfaction just isn't enough to cause any real change. The brain (at least my brain) plays tricks: Make do. The grass is no greener. You're over-reacting. It really isn't that bad. It'll get better. Lucy couldn't possibly pull the football away again.

These are exactly the thoughts that ran through my head for a long time before I left my last job (it also didn't help that the people I worked with were fabulous). Dissatisfaction was not enough to motivate me to make a life change. In fact, my personality type deals with dissatisfaction by looking for ways to improve the local situation and to remain optimistic that the situation can be improved.

At some point, however, I started to envision what a life change (a job change in this case) might be like. At first it was only an occasional thought. A guilty pleasure. Over time however, the vision of what might be became richer and more detailed. Finally at some point I flipped from imaging a change to yearning for it. At that point, change was no longer an option. It was inevitable.

Not to get all metaphysical here but I am a firm believer in the human ability to create our own reality by envisioning outcomes in advance. I think it pre-wires the brain to be more attuned and receptive to events and subconscious thoughts that lead you to where you want to go. This is why continuously envisioning life changes or goals in richer and richer detail is so important to making real change. And I'm not simply talking about the "Power of Positive Thinking". Obsessively fixating on negative thoughts can also manifest change in your life (but not the good kind). It is also why rejecting negative self-talk is to critical.

So one might argue that envisioning a job change in greater and greater detail motivated me to go find another job. I argue that envisioning that job change in greater and greater detail caused me to change jobs. There's a big difference between the two.


Peter J. said...


Warren said...

Now you know why I have enjoyed walking back and forth to work for .. well forever. Good weather or bad it is an excellent time to just be with myself and my own thoughts. It also provides a nice transition from work life to home life.

The fact that I avoid all the stresses of dealing with the traffic is an added bonus.

Kimota94 aka Matt aka AgileMan said...

Last night I was sitting in an elementary school gymnasium watching people who seemed to have very little going for them in life walking around with their children who gave every appearance of having no choice but to follow in their parents' footsteps.

Tonight I'm reading this blog post about something making a change that improved his life immeasurably.

Ain't life grand?!