Sunday, November 28, 2010

Change: The Groundwork for Opportunity

As a part of my effort to re-build momentum, there are a few blogs that I read regularly. Typically they are written by people that share my perspective on a meaningful, fulfilled life and in sharing their point-of-view they inspire and encourage me to continue pursuing the kind of life I want to live.

Katy, of The Single Supplement wrote a post about being "an agent for change" and the term really resinated with me. Katy and her sister Rachel, of The Minimalist Mom, are advocates in the world of minimalism and recently she wrote a post about presenting minimalism to the masses by "living a better life through small change". She wrote about how extreme changes can be overwhelming or to intimidating for most and instead called for action of small changes to the everyday. She called the effort "..change people can get behind".

I'm not quite on board with the whole minimalist movement, but the approach did get me thinking about my perspective on "change that people can get behind". I am a huge fan of change. We've become great friends over the years and I strongly believe that, while change can be the unapproachable, confrontational and awkward one in a room full of comfortable habits, routine and predictability, you really ought to give change a chance.

First of all, I understand that change is not easy. It makes us step outside our comfort zone and makes us uncomfortable for a while. It calls for an adaptation of our routine and a reshuffling of the things we're used to. When we change, it sometimes also creates the need for the people around us to change and, well, no one wants to create confusion or inconvenience for anyone else.

But like it or not, change is necessary. Earlier this week while driving around running errands a thought about change and it's relationship with opportunity came to me. This happens a lot while I drive, and I end up having to take voice notes so I don't lose my train of thought. Anyhow, here is the transcript of the message I left for myself:

"We must embrace change. We know that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the very definition of insanity. Our environment, our social circles, what we do for entertainment, our habits and routine. Doing the same thing day in and day out and expecting that something extraordinary will happen to us is insane.  We have to accept change in our life and get used to adapting to it. I'm talking about little changes. Start with where you get your morning coffee, the route or the method you take to get to work, once a week change up your working environment. Take your night out with friends to a place/restaurant/bar you've never been to. Make an effort to meet new friends or maybe re-connect with some old ones you haven't seen or spoke to in a while. I am not implying that these small changes will change your life or cause extraordinary things to happen to you, but it starts to break the mould of ordinary. Here's the thing, when opportunity comes knocking, it will ask you to change. It will ask you to make a decision that will likely create some kind of change in your life. If we are hesitant or resistant to change, opportunity will move on."

Back to minimalism for a moment. My favourite theme in the sphere of minimalism is the movement behind de-cluttering. This is a hot topic for me right now as I am still unpacking boxes from my move in August as me and my redhead attempt to merge our lives together. This has me constantly asking myself "where did I get all this stuff?!" and even more puzzling, "why do I still have it?!" It's incredible the things I've kept over the years and even more amazing that I've moved it from apartment to apartment (not to mention across the country). So it's time to de-clutter. I'm keeping only what I need and what I use, otherwise, EVERYTHING GOES. Well, this is the rule 90% of the time. I still make exceptions, but I'm trying hard to stick with the rule "if I haven't used it, worn it or needed it in the last year - gone-zo".

This is a great exercise to go through because de-cluttering is not about just getting rid of your things. It's about taking control of what you have in your life. It's living with less and making room for the things in your life that matter. Starting with the old t-shirts and college hoodies in your closet and moving to the CD's you haven't listened to since high school and the books that you never read (and likely never will). Eventually it'll be your budget you re-organize and attack your consumer debt. Then it's the wasted energy on other things that just take up space in your life, but really don't matter.

There are endless reasons why de-cluttering is a healthy exercise and just as many resources to guide you, but I won't get into it now. However, if you're like me and want to profit from lessening your life's load, sell your crap on ebay, list it on craigslist or send it to a consignment shop. You'd be surprised at the cash your crap will bring in. Seriously.

Anyhow, the point of all this was that welcoming change into our lives, even the small changes, helps us to become agile in a world where we can get used to the ordinary. We can get so stuck in our routines that change becomes so unattractive and uncomfortable that we avoid it at any cost. Author and poet Francis Bacon once said "a wise man will make more opportunities than he finds." I say, start by creating some change, see what kinds of opportunities come next.

I realize that I just wrote a post about routine and my need to involve that in my life as well, but there is room for both. You can welcome change in your life without completing disrupting your routine. Again, this is about small change. Change that everyone can get behind. Change even you can find room for.

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