Week 49. Make space
With New Year just around the corner, people tend to think about the changes they want to make and see in their lives. They make plans, some practice resolution-making, albeit, studies show that most of those resolutions fail. There are many reasons why but today I want to suggest the idea that changes don’t start at the goal-setting, planning stage, or at the day of. I like to think of changes as a space renovation. In a house of “YOU” there’s a space that you want to renovate. It usually is cramped up with things, dust, and peeled-off wallpaper, which usually represents your habits. By setting an intention or a resolution, what you do is vacuum the most visible dustballs once in a lifetime, at best. The dustballs seem huge and clog your vacuum up within the first month. Since there’s so much stuff, it gets overwhelming and exhausts even the most diligent effort to “stick to the plan”. With the renovation approach, you first remove all the stuff blocking the entrance, then all the furniture, carpets, and wallpaper. When you’re left with a “blank canvas” of a space, you can look at the floor (your deep-rooted thoughts and beliefs about the thing you want to change), do you want to keep the original, or if you want to change it completely. You don’t expect to have a nice new floor without pulling apart the old flooring, cleaning the debris, preparing the new base, and installing the new floorboards, so why do you expect to have a brand new habit on the old tarnished base? That’s why I bring this up way before you get the chance to be disappointed by another failed resolution and before you start to blame yourself for the failure. It’s not you, it’s just no one told you that there’s much more to it than making a list of things that you want to change and jumping on it from the closest Monday or the New Year. It’s fun to see the external changes but remember, just as with the foundation of a house, it doesn’t matter if it’s not visible, it’s the most stable part of the house. Same with habits and things you want to change, sometimes the invisible things like unconscious beliefs (some stemming from your childhood or even “the way things always were” in your family) can be the stable stubborn foundation that keeps you from changing, no matter how many vacuums you’ll break in the process of trying to make a difference in the space on the third floor.
The renovation analogy helps me to see the bigger picture when there’s a need for change in my life, it is helpful to me but I do understand that it might not be helpful to you. You have to find what works for you. My only suggestion is to try to look where the root cause is and tackle the change you want to make from there. Also, please, be gentle with yourself in the process, which is not always linear or evident. Things accumulate over time and sometimes, it’s suddenly July and you find yourself a little happier with the changes you’ve made 8 months ago, with a little more energy for things YOU want to do, a little more true to yourself. Or sometimes, life happens and you find yourself in the debris again, digging up the dirt, and it’s fine, we’re all in a process of life, trying to do our best. Sometimes it’s messy, sometimes beautiful, sometimes a bit of everything. I wish you the courage to peel off the layers, to see what’s there, maybe holding you back, and to find the strength to make a change.
Have a spacious week!