How did you know it was time to change?
I’ve had different women ask me how and when I knew enough was enough. How did I make the decision, the big scary changes, in my life? They were specific about my choice to leave my marriage, but this applies to any big, drastic decision.
You decide to make a change when
- the pain of the status quo outweighs the fear of the unknown.
- the terror of staying is bigger than the agony of leaving.
- the frustration of life as it is now is more intolerable than the irritations and uncertainties of starting over.
You decide to change when changing is easier than staying the same.
In terms of my marriage, I realized that it would be easier to be a single mom of 5, in terms of physical, mental and emotional health, in terms of productivity and parenting, in terms of financial and spiritual peace — it was going to be easier to do it all myself than try to do anything with my then-spouse. Parenting would be easier. Making meals would be easier. Doing housework would be easier. Even financially, I would be better off. (I was right, by the way. It has been easier.)
In terms of life, I’ve made several changes over the last few years or so.
I’ve changed how I view relationships and dating. (He has to be incredible to be worth my time.)
I’ve changed how I view money and budgeting. (God always provides what I need, and I will have enough.)
I’ve figured out a direction for my life .. well sort of. I’m still working on that one.
I’ve made smaller changes too. I’ve changed habits, things like remembering to take my vitamins, and putting on lotion, drinking water and planning meals. I’ve created routines for my family, that I tweak and adjust, but the core routine is pretty solid. All these changes have made my life easier.
You change when it makes life easier.
That’s probably the key to making a change. You see this in nature too, right? Water always takes the easiest path downhill. We human beings are naturally lazy, procrastinating people. We all can claim to be type A personalities, but be honest here: would you really rather clean up your kitchen than watch the latest episode of whatever on TV? (If you do, can we talk? Please?)
Habits, they say, take 21 days to form, and 90 days to make automatic. For me, habits start with a realization of how my life could be easier. Those 21 days are a continual reminder of how to make my life easier. Then 90 days of simply practicing and relaxing into the easier life I’ve decided on firm up the new habit.
Change isn’t actually painful.
Contrary to popular belief, the pain associated with change isn’t coming from the change itself. It’s coming from the impulse and need to change.
One of the biggest life decisions, outside of deciding to keep my baby at 19, and deciding to end my marriage, was deciding to start a business. Every day, I’m faced with decisions that are definitive and scary and the whole process has been nerve-wracking. But every day, I think — I’m willing to deal with this because the alternative .. not having this business, not succeeding, not working from home .. and the consequences, such as giving up homeschooling in order to work a job, or the scary future without income options … is intolerable and unthinkable. I can’t not do this.
A metaphor for any major life decision is childbirth.
There are stages of childbirth — early labor, active labor, transition and delivery. The most painful point, physically and emotionally, is transition. Up to that point, you’ve done all the work — researched the options, thought about do I, don’t I, weighed the pros and cons, figured out what you should do, but you haven’t actually made the decision — just like a woman’s body has done all the work of dilation and getting baby into position.
But transition is when everything is ready, and it’s time to do the real hard work of pushing through. The pain in intense, there’s fear and panic, but there’s no going back either. Change, like the baby coming, is the natural result of all the work. The pain of pushing through the delivery isn’t as intense as transition.
Feeling overwhelmed is a natural part of change.
Feeling scared and panicky and unsure — it’s all normal and natural. A former mentor of mind often said, “When you want to make a change, you actually have to make a change.” You’ll change when you can’t stand the way things are one minute longer.