Things do not change; we change. – Henry David Thoreau
Happy New Year! How exciting to once again be on the crest of a new year.
It’s a chance to put an old chapter to rest and write a new one.
“Resolutions” seems to be the key word in January. If you’ve ventured to a bookstore or looked at the magazines in the supermarket check-out lately you’ve seen that word splashed on every cover. We’re bombarded with reminders that this is the time to shake things up. In January, revenues from gym memberships, smoke-ending programs and weight loss companies soar. We vow (with much gusto) to direct our energies toward change, only to find most of that energy has dissipated by months end.
Perhaps the reason that so many of us fail at making the changes we set out to is because we approach change with the mindset of self-chastisement or depravation. We have to “kick a habit”, “fight an urge” or “battle our demons” – no wonder we’re exhausted and eventually quit. Even the word “resolution” implies a kind of internal agreement to deprive us of something – even if it is not in our best interest. To deprive is to focus on what doesn’t work, instead of directing our energy toward what does work.
What if we replaced the word “resolution” with the word “transformation”, as in “I am looking forward to great transformation this year”. Suddenly the energy shifts from a negative, combative set-up (ripe for failure) to one filled with positivity and possibility. “Transformation” implies that changing to something better is already happening, and that seems like a better prospect for success than deprivation does.
That shift in semantics would allow us to see that it takes more energy to labor over change than it actually takes to change.
Transformation is powerful, but it doesn’t happen with pixie dust and magical wishes whispered as the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. It’s hard work, but it will feel easier because if we keep our sights on seeing our new visions realized.
When I see a home for the first time I am looking at ways to make it better – to transform it. I have a wonderful client that I’ve been working with since last spring. Marriage had launched her to a new city, a new job and away from a life she knew well. To top it all off, the new home she was living in had been tailored to the previous owners’ taste and offered nothing familiar to greet her after a long day at work. She knew she needed to start rooting into her physical space so she could begin growing roots in other areas of her new life. I’m sure she’d agree that her mindset was more hesitation than excitement when the process began.
The months of construction were daunting, as we knocked out walls and re-arranged spaces in a way she and her husband had never considered. With every new day she had physical proof that transformation was in progress, giving her renewed energy to see this vision to the end.
I got proof of her transformation the day after the furnishings, draperies and artwork were installed. I received a lovely email telling me she felt as if she stepped into someone else’s life. A week later another email followed saying, “I took today off to just sit at home.” This is something she could have never imagined herself saying just one year ago.
Transformation doesn’t happen at the start of a new year. It can happen any month, any day or at any moment we choose. We have 365 days each year that are filled with opportunities to change our environments, our bodies and our minds and we don’t need a party hat or noisemaker to get us there.