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Inspired to Make a Few Changes

Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past. ~ Lily Tomlin

In the last two weeks, six women have said the same words to me, “Now that I am no longer working, what will I do with my time?”

The second thing that they all say is, “I know I will figure it out.”

I can reassure them that yes they will figure it out and for most of them they will become far too busy and preoccupied with the ’same old, same old’ patterns until a bigger disruption comes into their lives.

Change and particularly major life changes can be very dramatic, bold, upsetting, damaging, and even blissful. It all depends on your style and attitude about a transition. Usually planning for a change can reduce the worry factor, but not always.

Who could have planned for this recession to happen right in the middle of a huge life change? One knows they are opening up a job for someone else often – but maybe not – and you still thought you could travel and have health insurance. So many variables come into play and they can prove to be opportunities or road blocks; the choice is really up to the individual.

At age 40, I realized that my life plan was not on the course I had put together. I decided right then and there I needed to figure out how to live the life that was coming to me and put my values and actions into making it full and suitable.

I was fortunate in having the opportunity to experience a video of Jack Canfield’s, you know – the Chicken Soup for the Soul guy – Self Esteem and Peak Performance. I took copious notes, which after 20 years have been gleaned down to a 5 step action plan to begin accessing and making the changes I need to make my life more fulfilling and satisfying.

I thought I would share my beginning action plan for making change, it might give you some ideas about how to make change in your life?

  1. Get Real.
    I take stock of exactly where I am and what I have. I clean out the attic and the garage and I get rid of all the distractions and all the things that I do not need any more. I clean out file drawers and boxes of papers and label those that I am not ready to release so I can take a look again in a year or so.

    I defrost and inventory the freezer and look carefully at how I have been fueling myself.

    I look at the budget – oh yes, I have a budget and I look very closely at all the things I have on my payroll and whether they are consistent with my values and needs. I look at what is happening in my community and my country and add that information to my considerations.

    This is a reality check of where I am at right now. I am just writing down my evaluations and ideas – I am not in action mode yet.

  2. Emotional fact checking.
    This is a vital step in the process and I find one that is skipped by most of the folks I know and encounter. I believe people would rather roll their emotions through their thinking minds and try to not show them off in anything but an orderly fashion – if at all.I see this kind of response as a “bomb threat” or explosive force that can descend upon those you love and care for rather than on the intended target; it just does not help one make change to ignore the emotions.

    Right now I am in the middle of a celebratory dance about my birthday trip and in a fierce angry state with my health insurance premium – now at $1500.00 a month with a huge deductible – and how little health I am getting for this extraordinary amount of money. This is not a moment to cancel my health insurance and take another trip with the money!

    I am not attending the townhall forums about health care, I am sending my questions to my representatives, because I see the folks with guns at the meetings – I can hear the verbal and overwhelmed explosions. People need some emotional support before they can learn or understand. ( I am referring to the USA’s discussions on health care reform in August of 2009)

    Emotions are useful tools but not so helpful in making big decisions too quickly, when attempting to achieve our goals.

  3. Research
    This is an amazing step and so important when making a change. Who is sharing the bigger picture with accuracy and knowledge? As much as I love Google and all its speed, I need a process to discover the truth of the information as it relates to me and my living. I go to talks at the local college given by the faculty, and I study the television schedule. I listen to the negative and the positive, the screamers and the calm and thoughtful speakers, and I love to hear what the foreign journalists are writing about my country’s schemes and actions.I read a great deal and I understand human motivations and behaviors. Having a working knowledge of history is invaluable to me also.

    I trust myself and my reaction and responses to this information. (I have a very successful track record of knowing this is my best resource and most reliable – the good part about living a long life.)

    Research includes talking with people. My partner likes to keep everything in his life at his point of comfort. If I do not talk to him about the changes I am making and why, then he perceives that I am demanding he make changes and I meet with a wall of resistance.

    I personally work at adding humor to my research. I love the Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me show on National Public Radio (NPR) and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart because they help me refresh my thinking by giving me a big laugh out loud moment. It’s like a breath of fresh air – oxygen to the process.

    Learning and understanding are so often the keys.

  4. Plan of Action
    This is where action comes into the process of change. Now that I know exactly where I am and what values and needs I am working from I can make a plan and begin taking the steps necessary to achieve success. I am always evaluating my actions and double checking to see if I am on track and sticking to what I believe is my best work. I also need to be flexible, and when working from my values center point, this becomes easier and easier with practice.I thought it would take 3 years to change our family’s holiday practices and celebrations. It has taken 5 years and a National Economic Crisis. The value of the winter holiday that we will be celebrating is the bonds of connection which bring about the knowing that one is loved. We will be gifting each other with our stories and our time.
  5. Gratitude
    Saying heartfelt thanks comes in many different forms:
    I thank my walking shoes by putting on the leather conditioning lotion at least once a week.I thank my body by feeding it healthy food and clean water.

    I thank my partner every time I know that I have been heard on even the smallest of items in our conversation portfolio.

    I am working more and more at listening to my children and thanking them for sharing their lives with me – though after my big trip celebration it has been hard to slow down – blogging helps a great deal.

    I write in my journal daily, in order to thank myself for the actions I have undertaken. I remind myself that I prepared that meal or vacuumed that floor because of my values and my action upon them. I thank myself for making changes and being flexible and researching – and I thank myself for making my day the best that I could muster – even if I took the day off and daydreamed or napped!

How do you make changes? Do you wait until it is forced upon you or do you like to figure it out and make it work for you? Do you feel best working at caring or controlling others or when you work on yourself and your actions? What works best for you when you want to clean up your thinking and find new beginnings?
Looking forward to your comments and ideas – I so appreciate how they add to the conversation.

Other posts you might enjoy:

To be of Use
Transitions
How we Make Decisions and Changes

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13 Responses to “Inspired to Make a Few Changes”

  1. J.D. Meier Says:

    Beautiful job boiling down into a 5 step action plan
    (Get real, Emotional fact checking, Research, Plan of Action, and Gratitude.). I like how you illustrated each step with a brief story.

    My overall approach is to lead a life of action and drive by my *why.* It helps me stay in the game. I live my values to keep my energy strong and for sustainable results.

  2. Vered - Blogger for Hire Says:

    This is great. I am going to print it. Right now, being grateful is the most important thing for me. I like the idea of a journal.

  3. Walter Says:

    What you have written above are inspiring. Few years back I had an encounter with myself because my mind does not accept change. I realized that to grow you must embrace uncertainties. It was not easy but I managed to did it.

    Wisdom comes from awareness. :-)

  4. Talon Says:

    Lovely and inspiring post, Patricia. And full of common sense and wisdom.

    Change is scary – especially when the change comes out of left field. But when the fear dies down, and you make concious and clear decisions to deal with the change, it’s one of the most uplifting and exciting things you can do.

    I loved the Lily Tomlin quote. So true.

  5. Brian C. Says:

    Those are great quotes from a beautiful person on the inside and out…. Thank You Patricia. You truly are both n your words and wisdom.

    I cannot comment on your health care AT ALL! Being a Canadian I Can’t.. I pay ALOT of taxes but.. I dont have to worry about the extra stuff unless its Massage.. which I know you loved at one of our stays… (Here with a prescription its about $1500 covered… Holistic is also 0!)….

    My advice for the laid off is… (My father was laid off for many years and I have seen it personally many years ago)

    Change is scary.. But go with the flow. Being laid off costs more than working. My father was laid off for many years and stuck to his “I have to do this and ONLY this, I was trained for this and thats all Ill do” NOT the answer… get a P/T job pumping gas, get connections, be happy, It’ll all work out in the end…

    Its sometimes (Sadly) not what you know but who… I used to make $20 an hour and now its $5 attitude… Im abbove that… No!!!, wrong… if you dont work your mind will go numb… so, look for the helpwantd ign, suck it up… Trust me.. if you have a famil they’ll appreciate it in the long run…

  6. Dot Says:

    Great quote! I hope your plans bring you good things. And how timely is this post, given my current post? I printed it out.

    I’ve never been a person who planned, and then when I got sick, all plans had to go out the window, because my health varies so widely from one day to the next. (I suppose yours does, too, though.) Let’s see what I can do with these steps you’ve offered.

  7. Jannie Funster Says:

    Personally, I think I could live solely on Number Five. Gratitude does tend to beget more wonderful things! And I would add in parts of number 1, organized drawers and culling clutter make me smile very much.

    As to number 3, with my guy I just go ahead and change anything I wish and he has no choice but put up with me. But that would not work so well for you, I am picking up?

  8. patricia Says:

    Took me awhile to get here to respond to comments, because I changed my plans yesterday and just read an inspiring book from cover to cover – while the rain poured down. Sunshine today

    JD,
    Yes you do live a life of action! I can read that on your blog. I find I must sort out the values anchor for myself – even hour by hour on a big day or I can get so far off base I am overwhelmed.

    Vered,
    Thank you, I am glad you liked this post, it truly took me 11 days to write and edit it and see it clearly again for myself.

    Walter,
    Yes Wisdom does come from awareness. Thank you for your comments they add to the discussion and conversation.

    Talon,
    I have the Lily Tomlin quote stuck to my CPU right beside my monitor along with this Tom Volkar quote: “You can’t choose the wrong advice, if your’ve gone to your own well.” I have a whole basket of quotes on the other side of the monitor to keep me from basking in fear or getting stuck. Thank you for your kind words.

    Dot,
    I am heading over to read everyone’s good stuff in just a few minutes – intrigued by your comment to read your post. Physically I am having a good day. What a compliment to have you and Vered print this off.

    Jannie,
    Gratitude is vital…my partner does not like change, he likes all his ducks in a row – and when it comes to building design and function – this is vital…in human relations and communications skills it is very difficult to stay afloat. I am becoming convinced that one member in a partnership must have excellent communication skills or there are huge margins for misunderstanding. I will say, I am waiting for my partner to leave on his bike tour to throw away his 20 year old shoes he gardens in – they are damaging his feet and he has plenty of other shoe to wear….Yes! sometimes you just have to force a change…

  9. patricia Says:

    Brian,
    Nice to see your here and find your wonderful comments. All my relatives are on the Canadian/Australian Health care systems and they are having no problems with their systems. I think I like it because those systems are based on human needs rather than Corporate Profits and money making.

    Change is both remarkably fun and very scary – extremely scary for some. It is good to have some one to talk to about change and sometimes even a “coach” to help find the right steps.

    Yes! I loved having a massage at Airth Castle, which was 1/2 the price of massage here! and helped to give me mobility for the rest of the trip…I was grateful for the TLC I received on the trip and now today, finally, my right knee is almost pain free…and back to a normal size.

    I was determined not to miss out on anything on that trip…including meeting lovely friends like you and L.

    Thank you for your comments, they truly give light to the discussion.

  10. Barbara Swafford Says:

    Hi Patricia,

    You’re one busy gal.

    With change, I try to be aware, and in some instances can see the writing on the wall so I’ll take action. For the unexpected, I’ve learned to roll with the punches.

    I also believe in gratitude, and recording it. On days when I feel overwhelmed, if I stop to write down what I’m grateful for, that which seemed to “BIG”, loses it power. I love how that works,

  11. Patricia Says:

    Hi Barbara,
    Looking at gratitude is just so powerful and if I can succeed at doing in the moment something “big” arrives or sooner rather than later what a difference is made on my thinking.

    Getting down to the real helps me get to gratitude so much faster – less distractions

  12. Robin Says:

    Hi Patricia – people with guns at the meetings? Seriously?

    Love the way you start with a look at where you are right now – it’s so empowering. Smiled at your “conversation portfolio”. I don’t think I’ve actually had any major changes for some time – I must be in a consolidation phase. – R

  13. Patricia Says:

    Robin,
    I feel like changes are coming at me from all directions right now and I need to ease my partner out of his comfort rut if we are going to be able to ever retire and have some funds to live on in the future.
    His transportation is biking but at this point in our lives we have to set aside funds for new bikes so I need to re-orient our conversation toward the future needs and change the plans
    I am not a stay in the rut person to find my comfort.
    Thank you for coming on by :) I appreciate your comments