When Is The Best Time to Change? (Hint: Sooner Than You Think)
By Alejandra_Alex_Ruani on November 29, 2013
I woke up this morning reflecting about change. Through looking at my life in retrospect, I can think of two ways in which change has come about: either 1) as a result of a crisis, or 2) as a conscious decision.
When you face a crisis, that chaotic state is so painful that it becomes unbearable and you feel it's either change or death. You go into survival mode and a forced change is the only available option.
When I was 9 years old, I would sneak a peek at my mother's self-help books, and once read that the word "crisis" in China means both chaos and opportunity. Although the thought of that calms me down, today, I know better and I don't always see chaos as the best opportunity for change.
Very rarely, big changes take place when you are in a state of joy and optimism. Everyday life is as good as it can get, so why change? you think.
I personally admire people who steer change under normal circumstances and when things are going well. What makes them spectacular is that they can see beyond the status quo and feel that things could be even greater. They're determined to go against the current and do things differently.
They don't wait for an emergency to give them permission to do the uncommon.
Mediocrity vs. greatness
Now, I want you to think back: What moment in your life did you display amazing greatness like that? When did you do things differently and couldn't explain why?
The excitement of a new prospect feels amazing. You're unstoppable and you don't care about any kind of pain or discomfort because you have that one thing in mind. You act differently and people notice. You sense that others think you've lost your mind, but you couldn't care less. "Did she go mental?" "Why is she doing that now?" "This doesn't sound like her." "Why is she dressing all pretty now?" "She's acting strange."
I no longer wait for a crisis to give me the right to do things differently. People thought I was crazy for leaving a top job and top pay at the world's number one investment bank. But I was so busy changing that I didn't have time to explain what was going on with me. I had more important things to do -- I was in the middle of my self-directed revolution!
This is where you don't give a *bleep* about what others think. Because you know the resulting greatness at the end will explain it all.
So, here's four strategies I want you to start thinking about that have personally helped me embrace change (rather than dread it):
1. Never wait to hit rock-bottom to do the uncommon
Change in a state of desperation doesn't always result in good things. In fact, it severely reduces your capacity for control. If you want to look slim and chic, why wait until your trousers explode, for a public humiliation or a health problem? I've found that change is more enjoyable when I'm in a state of excitement -- for the sake of evolution and irresistible growth.
2. Give yourself permission to do something unusual
Do something where others will think, Uh, that's very unlike her, did she lose her mind? Yes, you have. As neuroscientist Dr. Joe Dispenza says: "You need to lose your mind in order to create a new one." For new synaptic connections to form, you first need to break those from your old, habituated self. A proper brain riot! The beauty of this is that you can think of it as your own revolution towards evolution, against what you've always done and what others expect from you. Why wait for a disaster to be exceptional?
3. Surprise yourself - and surprise others
Start with simple things to test your capacity for change. Wear red lipstick in a yoga class even when nobody does. Get a manicure if you've never had one before. Buy a pair of red shoes and let the office corridor be your catwalk. Dress pretty for your loved one so he gets to see the best version of yourself. Change your hair color or look for a better hairdresser. Use your finest china for dinner (don't save it for other, like our grandmothers did). Revolutionize your life with small, daily things. I can tell you one thing: You'll feel a bit mischievous and probably smile more -- both are slimming.
4. Run the Tuesday test
Can you remember anything about last Tuesday? Anything? If your days are unmemorable, you're denying yourself of the best things in life. The best memories come from doing something out of the ordinary. New experiences send a strong signal to your brain and prime it for evolution. Why not surround yourself with more beauty? In your lunch break, get flowers for your desk -- and let colleagues ask you about it. Allow yourself to create new memories now and don't wait until you're a hundred pounds thinner.
You won't need to explain why you're not your "usual self" when people wonder. You'll be too busy changing.
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