I write about change a lot. Probably because I feel myself changing all the time. Evolving, as I said in my last post. I don't believe in staying in one place - and I know because I did that for many years.
I think it's a misconception we have when we finally become "adults" in our own eyes. (And that happens at different times for different people!) For some, adulthood begins at 18 and for others college graduation. Maybe it's having your first child, or getting your first real job in your chosen career. For others, it happens when they lose a parent ... Whenever it occurs, the misconception that we have formally arrived at adulthood and can stop working on "becoming" arrives, too.
For me, I think it was when I became a parent. Nothing makes you feel like an adult more than changing that first poop explosion. But I was wrong. Perhaps, I was an adult, but I realized that I still had a lot to learn. A lot to do to feel like I was contributing to the world. So, another milestone "adult" moment was when I got my first permanent teaching job. I felt like all the work I had put in was finally paying off. I had an undergraduate degree in theatre, but that wasn't going to get me work, so I had gone back to school when my twins started kindergarten and started teaching when I was 38. I found myself stuck in that stage of adulthood for nearly 20 years.
Oh, I never felt stuck, but looking back, I could see that there was no time for me. No time for self-improvement - or even self-maintenance. That job, my kids, my home life - devoured me during those years. I think it was the nature of the job. There are just some high stress jobs that become all-consuming, and teaching is just one of them. I worked so hard to be the best teacher, mom, and wife I could be during those years and didn't leave any time for me. In fact, those were the years that I began gaining weight - more and more each year. It was too easy to grab a meal at McDonald's or a coke from the vending machine - and it felt like a treat - like something good I was doing for myself. But of course, it wasn't good for me at all.
In the last few years before retirement, I was introduced to essential oils. That was probably the catalyst for change for me. I became more and more aware of the chemicals - no toxins - in many household products, along with GMOs, pesticides, and the true nature of most medications. It started implementing changes where I could. I did the easy stuff - swapping out oils for OTC meds, replacing household chemicals with natural cleaners, and trying to eat healthier. But the hard stuff was pushed off to the side. There was no time to redesign our diet or, God forbid, exercise! And it was easy to make excuses. I just didn't have time to do that other stuff.
Since I have been retired, I have had more and more time for exploring "self." I have listened to countless webinars, podcasts, and YouTube videos talking about every aspect of health. I'm grateful for this time, because it has allowed me to be more reflective in my own life, but it has also given me the opportunity to reach out to others. I've made better choices in what I eat, how I prepare it, and reduced alcohol. But until recently, exercise was still neglected.
We all know change is hard, right? They tell us that, and anyone who has tried to change a bad habit is familiar with the ups and downs. It's so tempting to go back to our old ways - to give in and eat the cake or skip a day of movement. But change must be a conscious choice, and one that we thoroughly think through. What will you do when X occurs? You need to plan out your action steps, and your consequential steps. If you fail to do the desired behavior, what will happen? How will you move forward? It takes much preparation to keep moving forward, but it can be summed up nicely with just one word - choose.
We choose every action of every day. As adults, we are in control of what we do. Yes, at times others may seem to make decisions for us, but ultimately, we agree to go along - or not. So, when you make a decision to change something in your life, you have to keep choosing to step forward, and not behind. You choose to keep going rather than stay where you're at. When we fail to choose "forward," then we begin to accept life as it is, rather than what it could be. And that is accompanied by a feeling of failure and a negative mindset. "Well, I guess I'm not meeting that goal, so I might as well go back to doing what I used to do."
Yup. Change is hard, but change is merely once decision after another that keeps you taking baby steps forward into the life you've imagined. Don't let go of the life you've visualized for yourself, and don't settle. You have dreams for a reason. Don't let them waste away because you couldn't keep focused. Keep moving forward and continue to choose progress.
This was hanging in my classroom the last few years I was teaching!
End note: Since I seriously began working on my physical health, I have exercised three times a week (minimally) and switched to a a Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle, losing 24 pounds ... and counting!