Making a Change for the Better, Don't Wait!
Updated: Jan 12
I did something earlier this week….I changed my kitchen cabinet handles. “So what?”, you say. Well, I despised the ones we had, mostly because I would constantly catch my clothes on the sides of the handles that stick out, pulling me back, pulling open drawers or cabinets with my pockets, and only by pure luck, not tearing my clothes. On a few occasions, my young son has also hit his head on the ends that stick out, or I have smacked my hand/knuckles on them. So, I FINALLY changed them, and let me tell you, immediately I knew that the new ones were soooo much better, eliminating the annoyance caused on a regular basis. So….why oh why did we wait so long to swap them out? It cost a little over $100 and it took an hour or two max, and yet we lived with it, tolerated it, and were unhappy with it for seven years, SEV-EN years!! So, WHY??? We can try to justify it with the realities of life…..life is busy, new baby/kids, lockdowns (maybe delayed it further, but we haven’t been in lockdown for 7 years), time just passes us by, other competing or more important priorities, just trying to get through the day. Or, maybe, just maybe, we have become accustomed to tolerating things in our life which are not working for us, and we accept and settle for things being the way they are, even when we know they can and should be better, less frustrating, less draining, and more functional and enjoyable.
This got me thinking about change and regrets, and why we hold onto things accepting the way they/we are, even when unhappy or dysfunctional, versus making a change for the better? I am not really one who looks back on life with feelings of regret, but if there was something, it would be once making a change, often thinking “why didn’t I do this sooner?” Looking back, my big ones have been the following:
#1: Holding on to unhealthy relationships for way too long,
#2: Staying at a job from which I got very little fulfilment or appreciation, and yet stayed for many, many years
#3: Holding on to a high-paying corporate job (financial security) when I knew I wanted to do something else instead, and create a different lifestyle
#4: Not paying enough attention to my passions and interests earlier in life, and not spending time to make more out of them (whether it be as a hobby or potential career)
#5: Holding onto possessions for too long, or not clearing out things often enough, resulting in clutter and running out of space in our home, or maybe even creating financial strain when the possession is a large one (like a home, or an extra vehicle, boat, recreational vehicle, etc.).
#6: Tolerating those damned kitchen cabinet handles for seven years (seriously!), and probably several other improvements that would make my home more functional and enjoyable.
Little life annoyances vrs bigger life issues
Maybe some would view my kitchen cabinet handles as just one of life’s little annoyances, but they were nagging (or more appropriately “snagging”) me and creating frustration on a regular basis. I was even using the “H” word (Hate), which my 4-year-old reminds me that we are not supposed to say in our house, and sometimes other hostile curse words under my breath so he can’t hear. It was really brining down my mood when doing everyday things in the kitchen. Now, I’m going to be able to move about my kitchen more freely, literally without getting stuck or pulled back, which means being in that room/space is going to be much more enjoyable, and hopefully free from cursing.
So, I come back to “why?”. Why do we wait so long to change things which we know we are unhappy with, or are dysfunctional, or not working for us?
If “little life annoyances” like this are pulling us back and bringing us down, then what about the bigger life issues that we have come to accept and live with? Of course, bigger life issues have a much bigger impact on our happiness, energy and wellbeing, but yet again, we hold on to them for far too long. Do you look back on some positive changes that you have made previously in your life, and like me think, “why didn’t I do that sooner?” And, have you only just asked yourself that question, or have you actually dug deeper to come to the answer? In some cases, it may take a while to come to that answer, maybe a bit later in life once we have more life experiences, maturity, and perspective once the situation has changed. Regardless of whether we know why we previously waited so long to make a positive change, isn’t the realisation that we should have made the change sooner enough to make us behave differently in the future? Okay, I admit, maybe it isn’t that simple and easy, BUT, we only have a limited amount of time on this earth, AND, that time is too short and far too precious to be spending it in a stressful unfulfilling job, doing work we do not enjoy, or staying in an unhealthy or draining relationship, or being drained and dragged down by that clutter (or annoying kitchen handle) in our home and/or lives.
So, you have a choice, and our life is defined by the choices we make. If you’re not doing so already, think about something(s) you are currently holding onto which you are tolerating, is draining you or making you unhappy or unfulfilled (job, relationship, possession). Ask yourself, is this something that I want to accept as it is, and continue to live with? OR, is this something which I want to change? I sincerely hope that it is that later, because we all deserve better. So, if your choice or desire is to make a change, then ask yourself “what is stopping me or holding me back?” Here are some common examples.
If it’s a relatively easy change to make (like my kitchen cabinet handles), then what’s stopping you?
procrastinating or not prioritising it
ignoring or minimising the impact it is having on my happiness / life
need to free up some time in my schedule
need someone to watch my kid(s)
don’t know how to do it – need to investigate further or hire someone to help support me or do it for me
don’t have the money – need to create a plan to save some money to pay for it, or ask for help
Or, is it something bigger or deeper that is holding you back from making a more significant change, such as:
a fear (it may be a specific fear of something, or even fear of the unknown of what’s on the other side)
stepping away from or risking financial security
not trusting myself or my abilities
a negative or limiting belief or thought that I am telling myself (e.g., “I’m not going to find anything/anyone better”, or “I’ll be alone and single forever at my age”, or “I won’t be able to find another job or make a career change at my age, or with my experience”)
concern about what others may think or say (what are you telling yourself that others may think or say?)
Overcoming What’s Holding You Back
If you are able to identify what fear, concern or limiting belief is holding you back, ask yourself, “what if the opposite was true?” “What would that look like for me?” “How much happier, more wonderful, fulfilling would my life be?” Really try to articulate and visualise that difference in as much detail as you can. When you think about and visualise the opportunity for greater happiness and fulfilment that is awaiting you on the other side of the change, this will help motivate you to take action to make the change. Then you can really commit to making the change and take action towards it. You can declare 2022 as the year of change, or even target a specific month by when to make the change. And if you really want to be successful in making the change, write down the steps, or some ideas or options of things you could do to make the change a reality. A series of small, attainable steps added up can make a big change become a reality!
Knowing that you want to make a change is the first step. If you are clear about what you want, but are having difficulty identifying what is holding you back or preventing you from making the change, a focused coaching session on identifying and overcoming fear would be beneficial (Overcoming Fear Session | Elevate Your Life Co (elevateyourlifecoaching.com.au)). And if you know that you want a change for the better, but need further support defining your desired future state or direction, a Personal Vision & Strategy Session | Elevate Your Life Co (elevateyourlifecoaching.com.au) would be beneficial.
You can find out more about these sessions and my other service offerings on my website homepage (www.elevateyourlifecoaching.com.au) You can also follow me on LinkedIn or Facebook at the links below: