Andy Warhol once said “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
He’s right, you know.
Sure, time does change things. It does. Take a look out of your window at the tree across the street. Notice the change in the colour of the leaves that cling to each branch. Bottle green made way for russet brown, and soon, russet brown will make way for naked branches. Time (and nature) does that.
But what about other types of change that aren’t governed by time? A career change? A relationship change? A dream of changing the world? How do you make the change when time bows out of the game – stop all the clocks – and it’s just you standing there, clutching your basket full of want-to-change? Then what?
Feels a bit scary, right? Like you’re about to let yourself loose on a minefield – one wrong step and you could be blown to smithereens.
I say step forward anyway. Do it.
If you want to change something in your life, you’ve got to change something in your life.
Two years ago, I was unhappy with my weight and eating habits. I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to get fit. I wanted to make healthier food choices. But I didn’t.
Because I was too scared to change.
I was scared of what it would take to achieve the change.
I was scared of changing my routine.
I was scared of stepping outside of my comfort zone.
I was scared of failing.
I was scared of what other people might think.
I was scared of what might happen once I’d made the change.
I was scared of the unknown.
Most of all, I was scared of my own apathy; I desperately wanted to change, but felt completely numb to the prospect of it – which is such a terribly frustrating catch 22 – and due to this, I often found myself sandwiched between a brick wall of wanting-to-change and not-actually-changing. Looking back, I see that this was a clear sign of avoidance and self-preservation, which, again, related directly to being scared. Instead of confronting the reasons why I was scared, I plumped for the easier option of apathy. And let me tell you, apathy gets you nowhere. Apathy is better the devil you know. Apathy is lethargic. Apathy is safe. Apathy is victim behaviour and screams of “change-is-too-hard-and-way-too-scary-so-I-just-won’t-bother-and-I’ll-let-the-change-come-to-me-instead”.
The thing is, being scared will always show up whenever change is on the horizon. It’s a normal, human reaction, after all, but it doesn’t mean you have to rise to it.
In her book ‘Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway’, the author, Susan Jeffers, offers the bullshit-free message that being scared is ok – that being scared is manageable – that being scared can be handled.
Reading that book was a bit of an eye-opener for me and although it got a little meta-physical and religious for me in parts, I started to use some sections of the book as my go-to paper therapist. I started to make some changes, even though I was still scared, and read over and over the paragraphs that reminded me that being scared was ok, but to nevertheless just get on with it.
So I did.
I started to change.
I started to run.
To the end of the street and back.
It wasn’t far.
But dammit, I was running.
I started to watch what I ate.
I drank more water.
I ate more salad and green vegetables.
I stopped drinking half a bottle of red wine every night.
I started to do press-ups.
I stopped sitting on the sofa, watching television for hours at a time, only to later complain to people that I didn’t have ANY time to exercise.
Eventually, I got rid of my television altogether.
Throughout all of this, I was still scared.
Mark Twain summed it up, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”
And that right there is what it’s all about. It’s about learning to accept fear, to master it, to stare it down – no matter how terrifying – and flick it the middle finger. Fear will always be there. It’s not going to go away.
It will be there when you’re looking to lose weight, to finally get fit, healthy and happy in your own skin, to finally gain that determination and strength.
Fear will be there when you’re preparing to throw in the towel on your 9-5 and pave the way as your own boss.
It will be there when you’re considering ending your relationship with your partner, or considering starting a new one, after years of singledom.
Fear will be there when you choose to assert yourself to the friend who bullies and berates you.
Fear will prod and poke and tell you it’s not possible. Fear will try and lure you back to the safety of the sofa.
Fear is an asshole.
Go on, make the change.
Master the fear.
It’s a beautiful world, after all.
Just take a look out of your window at the leaves on the tree across the street.
We can learn a lot from the leaves.
And how they embrace change, simply and fearlessly.