You can listen to me read Everything Changes or you can read the blog post below. Finally, something within your control!
Generally speaking, I like change. I think this is because I’ve had the opportunity to decide to make changes. Change is so much easier when it’s within our control. Very often it isn’t.
I was out and about the other day, and I encountered three different people who were in the midst of changes of their own. Changes come in all shapes and sizes, and these folks I met up with gave me three individual examples of change.
Last week, a close friend had a mild stroke. (Related observation: A mild stroke is one suffered by someone else.) A stroke presents a lot of changes. When I popped in at the hospital, he told me about some of these changes, the things he would need to relearn. Change that results from illness is not easy.
Illness can be sudden, as in my friend’s case, or it can sneak up on us slowly. Either way, illness brings change. Most of us who are fortunate to live long enough will experience the changes brought on by illness.
After seeing my friend in the hospital, I ran into a woman that I’d had a professional association with while I was still working as a teacher. I asked her what was new and she told me that her husband was finally happy in his work. To find work that made him happy, though, her husband moved to another province.
Her plan is to join him sooner than later, but right now, she has her own commitments to fulfill. Relocation is a big change that involves a whole truckload of little changes, details stacked upon details.
In this case, a change was made for the benefit of one half of a pair. When you love people and live with them, you sometimes find yourself changing with them.
It really was a great day for running into people I hadn’t seen in a long time. Before my excursion was done, I met another casual acquaintance. I asked about his work and he told me this story:
Awhile back, on a trip larger centre my acquaintance noticed a homeless man sitting in a park. My friend quickly assured me that he didn’t mean to think this thought. His own exhaustion made it automatically pop into his mind, and my friend confessed, “I envied the homeless guy’s free time.”
In that moment my friend knew he had to quit his current job. He’d need to find one that wouldn’t leave him feeling jealous of the freedom of folks who have to sleep outside. Now he has a job that moves at a saner pace and he’s happier.
Change is coming. You can’t escape it so you might as well embrace it.
But how do we greet change? It’s a pretty tall order to look change in the eye and open the door, inviting it right into our lives. When change knocks, our most natural instinct is to bar the door and draw the blinds. Nobody’s home, change. Come back later.
It helps to let go of the idea that we can control every situation. We can’t. (This is an especially challenging fact for me to understand, but I’m working on it.)
Here are three steps that we can take together in learning to accept change and to just deal with it:
- Be flexible. Sure, go ahead and make plans. That way some of the things you want to happen will happen. But don’t cling too tightly to your plans. Be prepared for your plans to change.
- Ease up on your expectations. High expectations lead to disappointment more often than not. To best face change, lower your expectations of how events should unfold. Just let them unfold. (That’s a hard one.)
- Take change less personally. Life happens to everyone. It can feel like we’re going through it alone, but we’re all traveling along that same forward trajectory. Time makes sure of that. The road is sometimes bumpy and sometimes smooth. Change is not targeting any one of us. We’re simply living lives in which change is unavoidable.
I have the three people I met that one day to thank for my renewed perspective on change. We all have a different experience of change, but as long as we walk the earth, change is inescapable.
Sometimes change is good and other times it is very difficult, but it’s guaranteed to happen. The best we can do is to accept change and move forward with it.